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Key to a successful marriage

By Elder Pius Ejiogu

Marriage is a bond, an institution whereby a man and a woman are joined together in Holy Matrimony in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. It is a legal relationship between a husband and a wife.
HOW DID MARRIAGE COME INTO EXISTENCE?
God established the institution of marriage in heaven between Adam and Eve. God created Adam from dust, and Eve with a rib from the side of Adam. Gen. 2:18-25.
Before we go deep into talking about enhancing our relationship with our spouses, it is important we know about the beginning of a good relationship in our context.
After creating Adam, God presented all other things He created and asked Adam to name them. Adam named them; God saw that none was adequate to be a companion for Adam. He caused Adam to go into a deep sleep. God performed the first surgery by removing one of his ribs with which He formed the woman. Adam was excited. He called her woman – the bone of his bones and the flesh of his flesh and they both were naked but they were not ashamed. Therefore, a man should leave his father and mother and clinch to his wife. So what God has joined together, let nobody put asunder.
Therefore, for a man to have a good relationship with his wife he must find the exact rib (wife) that was taken away from his side which will fit or match the space from where God removed it to form the woman (wife). It must not be over sized or undersized. Anything short of the actual size will never make a good match or a good relationship. But when the right rib is found, there will be harmony in the marriage and the relationship will be cordial. So, put a round peg in a round hole and a square peg in a square hole.
However, while men and women can do so many things together, God did not make two identical persons when He created Adam and Eve. The difference between the two, man and woman are very pronounced both physically and emotionally, but can wonderfully complement each
What is God’s charge for the husband and the wife?
a)      Wife:- The wife’s responsibility is to honour her husband and submit to his leadership. Eph. 5:22-24.
b)     Husband:- The husband’s responsibility is to honour his wife and to love her just as Christ loves the Church. Eph 5:25-30.
ENHANCING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE
Now that a relationship has been established, how do you go about making it more attractive or desirable or more valuable?
Honour and Love:-
The husband’s responsibility is to honour his wife (Spouse) and to love her just as Christ loves the church.
Therefore for a husband to enhance his relationship with his spouse, he must love her without boundary. Love is the key for enhancing relationship in our marriage.
The type of love we are talking about is not the superficial type; but the unconditional, sacrificial, selfless, committed and indestructible kind of love. It is the agape love, that which makes the difference, a commitment to keep loving whether it feels good or bad.
Care:-
To enhance your relationship with your spouse, you must care for her. A caring relationship is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, truthfulness, gentleness and self control, (Gal. 5:22). If any is lacking, there is no LOVE or CARE.
In Romans 12:9-10, Apostle Paul said; love one another and have a profound respect for each other. Our Lord Jesus Christ said in John 15:12, “I demand that you love each other as I have loved you?” Love and care are interwoven and can run paripassu or simply put, can be used interchangeably. They are the highlights of our discourse in this paper.
A husband who cares for his wife also bears and shares with her, accepts, respects, supports and welcomes her.
In full measure of sharing, husband and wife should fully embrace the fact of “All I have is yours and all you have is mine”. With this understanding, your relationship with your spouse will be enhanced and strong.
When your spouse is sick and cannot meet up with your demands and needs, what do you do? Are you the type of husband that will abandon his wife to her fate or keep yelling at her, demanding for food or this and that?
This is the time to demonstrate that you truly love and care for her. This is the time that you put into practice the ‘I love you’, that you have been saying to her otherwise your type of love is deceitful. Treat her kindly; let that love be put into action. Your care and love at this time will even make her get well faster. Give her something to eat, give her something to drink, let her know that you really care for her. Do not abandon her to her fate because she is sick. If you keep faith with her in time like this, your relationship will be more enhanced. The bible says that when one of us is in sorrow, we too shall be in sorrow with him, if he is rejoicing, we shall rejoice with him.
If you don’t care for your spouse whom you see every day, with whom you live, and who works and cooks for you, how can you say you care for God whom you have not seen?
One important quality of every husband who honestly cares for his wife is his willingness to change and adjust his response to his wife and to put up with her imperfection, be considerate and thoughtful of her, show regard for her feelings, be aware of her needs and be helpful in meeting them, especially when they are reasonable. Naturally, a caring husband must be considerate, trustworthy, otherwise he is not caring.
If you love your wife, you care enough to find time for her; else you are letting her feel neglected or not included in your priorities.
Being available to your wife is a clear indication of your interest and a wonderful antidote and a food supplement – a key to enhancing relationship with our spouses. We must apply it always and live it.
ENJOY DOING THINGS TOGETHER
To enhance your relationship with your spouse, husband should develop the habit of enjoying doing things together. Husbands and wives should train-up their children together in the fear of the Lord so that when the grow up, they will be grateful to their parents for bringing them up to love God and man. Husbands and wives from time to ‘time can go shopping or to market together to buy things for the family. Those who have farmland for cultivation should do it together. Husbands should help their wives sometimes in house or domestic work, prepare the children for school and for church service. Husbands should not abandon these to their wives alone. Remember our great novelist, Chinua Achebe of the blessed memory, wrote in his foremost novel “Things Fall Apart”, that, “our strength lies in our togetherness”.
THE TWO ARE NAKED AND ARE NOT ASHAMED; THEREFORE:
i) Is there anything wrong with a husband and his wife sharing one common room and sleeping on one bed? Of course, my answer is NO! Instead, it enhances their relationship. It brings them closer to each other, offers opportunity to chat, plan, play, pray and do a lot of things together. –
ii)  Is it forbidden or shameful for a couple to bathe together? My answer is also NO! A couple bathing together love to appreciate themselves, it makes them develop more intimacy with each other. Form a habit of doing things together, prepare and get ready for occasions together, but be time conscious.
iii) Going to functions together, hand in hand is an impressive way of expressing love for each other even in the public.
iv)  In a situation (like a wedding ceremony), you are called to the High Table with your wife, are you the type to jump out, rush to the Table, take your seat, while your wife is still struggling to get up from her seat? This is wrong and improper; it does not make you a gentleman or a caring husband. Please wait for your spouse to come out to meet you, hold her by the hand or let her match in front while you follow from behind. At the High Table, usher her to a seat before you take yours beside her. In fact, this way, your wife will have high regard for you and see you as the best husband in the world. If it were in the early days, she would call you ‘My lord’ (Nnam-ukwu) just like Sarah called Abraham.
Why did husbands in the olden days have pet names for their wives such as: Uche-diya (the mind of her husband), Enyi-diya, (the friend of her husband), Ukwu-diya (the legs of her husband), etc.? What pet names do you call your wife? It can go a long way to enhance relationship.
v)  Going out occasionally in uniformed dress: This is another way to demonstrate love and solidarity for each other. It is highly encouraged. It enhances relationship with our spouses. It makes your wife feel very proud of you, feel loved, appreciated and on the top.
Do you ever care to buy some petty things occasionally for your wife when returning from market or work or journey, especially such things that she loves; like – ice cream, biscuits, fruits etc. If you have not been doing this, please start it now, the difference will be clear. Also, how do you cherish the ones she buys for you, you should receive it with appreciation. Call her those pet names you fondly call her. Even though she bought them for you, share them with her and members of the family. Don’t eat alone. You can even feed her personally as you did on your wedding day. There is joy/love in sharing.
Remember, money is important any way but, not the ultimate or the most desired need of most humble wives in enhancing their relationship with their husbands. The physicist says ‘Action and Reaction are equal and opposite. Therefore what you give to your spouse is what you get in return. Love and care as tonic for enhancement of relationship in marriage is also reciprocal.
TOLERATING REPULSIVE HABITS
If your spouse is the type that snores or eats while sleeping, etc, are you put off? Please don’t, but learn to adjust to her imperfections and habits. It could be you. You might have noticed it when you were courting, why hate her now? You should tolerate her; she is your loving wife. In marriage, one plus one is one, by virtue of marriage you are one and the same person.
HOME RESPONSIBILITIES
Husbands should live up to their responsibilities as the bread winners and heads of their homes in order to maintain their headship roles. There should be food on the table, children brought up in the fear of God. Meeting up with these responsibilities go a long way to enhance ~husband/wife relationship.
Peradventure the husband is no longer able to meet his responsibilities  as head in the home due to some unforeseen circumstances which are not his fault and the wife becomes the bread winner, what will be his position? There is the Igbo adage that says – “Ogo gaeji aku, ya ejide ire-oma”.
However, he is still the head of the family that is why it is important husbands should ensure good relationship exists between them and their spouses, so that when such situation occur, it will be regarded by the spouse as normal and the home will still be run in peace with cordial understanding. Marriage is not a bed of roses. There may be  misunderstanding once in a while. If your relationship is already in good standing, every misunderstanding in the home will be sorted out amicably and without qualms.
RUNNING A JOINT ACCOUNT
You may wish to run a Joint Account if it will work for you. It worked for me. It will help you develop confidence and trust in each other, so that there is nothing to hide about your treasure. In the long run, this will prevent suspicions of each other. “All I have is yours and all you have is mine” will now have a meaning.
COMMUNICATION
Eph. 5:19 says To understand a woman’s needs, hurts, feelings, frailties, strength, goals, hopes, dreams requires meaningful communication. Lack of it can create havoc in a home. You must endeavour to understand your spouse, her dos and don’ts. Make time for normal and free discussion session with your wife. Don’t be the silent type; it may be mistaken for negligence, rejection or lack of love.
YOU MUST BE A GOOD LISTENER
Good listening is part of availability. It means you give your time and attention to her when she is discussing with you, airing her own point of view,
1.  When she is talking, you should stop talking because you cannot listen while you are talking.
2.  Smile and nod appropriately as she makes her points.
3.  Don’t antagonize her.
4.  React to ideas and not her person.
5.  Avoid hasty judgment
6.  Wait until she is done before drawing conclusion
There is an extremely important verse in the book of Prov. 18:13 which says- “what a shame, yes, how stupid to decide before knowing the fact”.
7.      Remember 1 Peter 3:7 which says ‘You husbands must be careful of your wives, being thoughtful of their needs and honouring them as the weaker sex. Remember that you and your wife are partners in receiving God’s blessings, and if you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not get ready answers’.
SMILE
Let smile be on your face as you communicate with your spouse
Smile is a great antidote
A smile cost nothing but creates much.
If you smile to your spouse, both of you stand to gain.
Smile is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, nature’s best antidote for the troubled, yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen.
Irrespective of this, we find it difficult to give it out. Smile is precious to everyone, and it costs nothing, why not give it out lavishly to your spouse. Do not withhold or hoard it.
BEING CLOSE WHEN FAR AWAY
A husband who cares for his spouse is close to her even when she is far away. There is a wonderful closeness, a spirit of unity between them even though they are far away. We thank God for the age of mobile phones, and improved technology on network which have made communication a lot easier. Husbands have no excuse for not communicating with your spouses when they or you are far away from home for obvious reasons.
CONCLUSION
Share joy with your spouse. God gives joy that we may give out.
He gives love that we may share and sometimes heavy loads that we
may learn to bear.
For joy is gladder when we give out.
And love is sweeter when we share with others.
And heavy loads rest lightly too when we learn to bear.
King David sang a song in Ps. 133:11 ‘How good and how pleasant it is for brothers (I say spouses) to dwell together in unity and love.
My wedding TOAST in 1987 says: “Everything is more beautiful when shared in LOVE. Therefore, there is love in sharing.
Lastly, the marriage institution is under serious threat today because people live carnally, not submissive to each other and to the will of God. Marriage is unconditional, should maintain mutual respect, be faithful to each other and play their roles to ensure happy family and above ail acknowledge and fear God. 1 Peter 3:11.
Therefore, for a successful and enhanced marriage relationship, you must ask for wisdom.
Thank you.

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