How to Have a Successful Marriage
Ecclesiastes 4:12: “A threefold cord is not easily broken.”
Marriage should follow the same pattern that God Himself established at the dawn of human history at the marriage of Adam and Eve. We can almost picture Eve coming to Adam on the arm of the Lord Himself. I do not believe that any human heart can ever imagine the depth of love and joy that filled God’s heart as He united the man and woman in this first marriage ceremony. It must have been a scene of such amazing intimacy – Intimacy first, between God and the couple, and second, intimacy between the man and the woman. This is the pattern God has ordained to stand unchanged until the end of human history.
A successful marriage is not a matter of chance. Jesus, in a conversation with the Pharisees in Matthew 19, stated that the form of marriage that had become accepted in Israel under Judaism was below the level of God’s standard. Under Judaism, the marriage relationship was viewed as being merely horizontal – between the man and the woman. However, the marriage relationship established in the beginning had two dimensions – the horizontal and the vertical. Horizontally it related Adam and Eve to each other, and vertically it related the two of them together to God.
In Ecclesiastics Solomon expresses in symbolic terms the difference between these two levels of marriage. Two are better than one, he states, and this agrees with the reason God gave for providing a mate for Adam, “it is not good for the man to be alone”. When two are together and one falls, the other can help him up. If two are together, they keep each other warm and if two are attacked, together they have a better chance of driving off the attacker. Better than two, according to Solomon, is a “cord of three strands”. In this case, the strength of three together is far greater than two together.
Solomon’s first three examples of ‘two together’ illustrates the concept of marriage on the human plane. It relates to a horizontal relationship that is merely a relationship between the man and the woman. However, Solomon’s fourth picture, the “cord of three strands” illustrates marriage as it was conceived at creation. It is a binding together of three persons – the man, the woman, and God.
The relationship between the man and the woman alone is not enough to ensure a successful marriage. This relationship is still on the human plane. Adding God to the relationship introduces a completely new dimension to the relationship. God then becomes an integral part of the marriage relationship.
The picture of ‘a cord of three strands’ does not merely illustrate the pattern of marriage established at creation; it also illustrates just as accurately the pattern of marriage for believers today – those who are united through their faith in Christ. The principle that binds them inseparably together is the marriage covenant, a covenant that you have entered into today.
The Christian marriage as a threefold one can stand any strain. The strain may be so great that two of its strands begin to fray. Nevertheless, the third strand will always remain strong and hold out until the strain is eased and the two frayed strands are bound up. When times of strain come up and both husband and wife begin to weaken and feel unable to hold out, God Himself, the third strand, holds on until the strain is eased and both husband and wife can be healed and restored.
In Isaiah 40:31, it reads, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
The word for “wait” in this verse is the word “qavah”. This word actually means, “To twist as a rope”. The picture is one who is twisted and entwined with the Lord and thereby strengthened in their relationship. A threefold cord type of marriage is one in which both husband and wife begin a wrapping and twisting of their relationship with each other as they both together wrap and twist themselves around God. The more they wrap and twist the three cords, husband, wife, and God, the more strength is added to their marriage. In addition, they mount up with wings of eagles. That is, they achieve their dreams faster and go higher in life than they could without Him. In addition to that, they run and do not get weary; and they walk, and not faint. This means that they do not tire of each other and they do not have times of wanting to quit. Taking God out of the equation makes it almost impossible to achieve any of the above.
In the cord of three strands, the principle that intertwines the strands and holds them together is the covenant. Marriage is a covenant, you have covenanted to live with one another and to involve Christ in everything you do. When you are committed to this covenant, you will have a very successful marriage and enjoy your marriage as God has intended it to be. Be obedient to Christ and His word and you will enjoy your marriage.