I am inspired by some marriages I have seen since I came to Alaska. My job takes me into homes where I see wives taking care of their husbands and husband taking care of their wives. 30, 40, and fifty plus years after they said “I do”, after facing the challenges of marriage, some overcoming even adultery, alcohol abuse; some facing the challenges of dementia, diverse disabilities and many other challenges. I have been able to see, with my own eyes, examples of people that actually took serious the words, “For better and for worst, in sickness and in health, in riches and in lack.”
The Apostle Paul spoke plenty in First Corinthians 7 concerning marriage; on verse 28 he stated, “But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.” (NKJV) That word trouble is the Greek word Thlípsis, meaning, “To crush, press, compress, squeeze, which is from thláō (n.f.), to break. Tribulation, trouble, affliction.” I heard folks say that love never hurts; nothing can be further from the truth. The Bible tells us in First Corinthians 13:4 that “Love suffers long…” (NKJV)
I take the liberty to say that either suffering is multiplied by second, third marriages and beyond or, the tolerance for suffering decreases in a significant way. What we know for sure is that the statistics for divorce increase dramatically. The divorce statistics for first marriages are already alarming; they are in average at 45% to 50%; second marriages 60% to 67% and third marriages 70% to 73%.
I have noticed that there is a level in marriages that is very rare. It is what I like to call, the Cross Over Level; this is the Agape love level; this is the level where marriages do not talk about divorce and separation with every single argument. As long as divorce and separation still comes up in every argument, your marriage is still in the infant stage, the selfish stage and the foolish stage. Marriages that are mature still argue; it still difficult! As we can clearly see in First Corinthians 7:28, pain is a biblical reality. Marriage is not cookies, milk, flowers and butterflies. However, the cross over level in marriages rise above all that, it is the commitment that establishes, you are my wife and I am your husband no matter what. Even as you get on my last nerves I will always be there for you, in the good times, the bad times and the ugly times. These are marriages that can only be destroyed by continual adultery, domestic violence and death itself.
I pray for a marriage that is filled with the Philadelphia love (Friendship). I pray for a marriage that is fill with the Romantic love. But neither one of these kinds of love is strong enough to survive the tough times. For the tough times, the Agape love is the only force that will help us cross over. Show me a marriage that end up in divorce and many reasons could be given for such failure; but there is really one reason, they never learn to love each other with the Agape love. Show me a long marriage and, without a doubt, they were transformed by the Agape love. The Agape love never fails.
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
 First Corinthians 13:8
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