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Top 5 Obstacles to Having a Great Christian Marriage

By September 30, 2015Encouragement, Family, Marriage

I love marriage. I love the idea of marriage and the process of marriage.

But, marriage isn’t easy. It’s actually hard to have a good marriage.

One of the toughest verses in the Bible to obey is Ephesians 5:31 which says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

One flesh.

The process of blending two very different people is what causes stress to many marriages.

In my work with marriages, I’ve identified 5 of the major obstacles to making a great ONE out of two very different people. Sometimes simply understanding what obstacles exist and knowing they are common to most marriages — you are not alone — can help us learn to see them not as obstacles, but as God-given opportunities to grow a stronger “one flesh”.

The 5 major obstacles I have seen are:

Lack of Biblical knowledge about marriage

There is very little premarital training in churches today or even in most homes that are raising children who will one day marry. When my boys got their driver’s license we sent them to four Saturdays of classes. How much training do most of us get for marriage? The fact is that most of us are somewhat surprised by marriage and we don’t really know how to make it work. We need to do a better job training people for marriage.

Differences in Men and Women

Men and women are designed differently by God — not just physically, but emotionally. We look at the world differently. We process information differently. We expect different things from relationships. We have wrongly tried to equalize everything when it comes to men and women. I strongly agree we need equality when it comes to things like workplace treatment or educational opportunities, but when it comes to matters of the heart, and especially marriage, we better know that God designed a difference in men and women.

Communication styles 

Because of our differences, men and women communicate differently. Men tend to communicate thinking to thinking; while women tend to communicate heart to heart. One of the reasons Cheryl and I might have conflict is because I say things I intend for her mind to hear and it’s received with her heart. We need to remember that we communicate differently.

Outside influences

Every marriage has influences beyond their immediate control, but that have profound and direct impact on the marriage. Some of those influences include:

  • Children
  • In-laws/other relatives
  • Friends
  • Pressures of life/stress
  • Devil

All of these are normal influences in any marriage. Some of them are even welcome influencers in the marriage. The key is not to let ANY of them distract from the plan God has for the marriage to become one flesh.

Differing Goals/Objectives 

Remember every couple is made up of two unique, differently designed individuals. That means each one brings unique qualities, personalities and opinions to the relationship. Again, that’s part of God’s overall design to make two people one.

Some of the major differences include:

  • Outlook on life; usually one is more positive and one is more negative.
  • Differences in family backgrounds
  • Personality differences Introvert/Extrovert; Thinker/Feeler; Organized/Disorganized
  • Parenting Objectives

The overall goal of marriage is not to make both parties in the marriage like one of the parties.  It’s to make ONE new unit out of the two. Discovering how to blend one flesh out of two different people takes years and requires practice, patience and lots of hard work. Remembering that differences are a part of God’s plan and can actually help us build stronger marriages.

Remember also God didn’t promise this would be easy. In fact, the very next line after the difficult verse I shared in the opening of this post says, “This is a profound mystery” (Ephesians 5:32). If you are married, praise God for the mystery He gave you today.

What other obstacles have you seen to having a great marriage?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • Luis says:

    Great Article!!
    I would like to put emphasis on “lack of biblical knowledge” because many time we take recommendations that could be against God’s teachings about marriage. And to that, I would include that God should be put first and above our own marriage.
    I quote a book:”This display of God’s love is critical in any blessed marriage, because when you love God above all things you obey his commands, you love your wife as Christ loved the Church, you submit to your husband as to the Lord, you pray, you preach the Gospel to your spouse and your marriage becomes the image of Christ and the Church” (Jonathan Tristan -How to build a Godly marriage)

    Thank you and be blessed!

  • paulyn says:

    misunderstanding is a major obstacle

  • louis says:

    Well put Jon!!! Thanks I will use this on her!

  • Paul says:

    I have seen money become an obstacle all too often in marriages, both Christian and non-Christian. Money problems can go under any number of the obstacles above.. it can be an outside influence, a differing goal or the lack of Biblical knowledge about how we are to act in regards to money. Thank you for this post Pastor Ron, it is always good to consider obstacles in my own life and marriage – some that have already presented themselves and others that could.

  • Alex says:

    One of the major Obstacles I've seen is that of Carving. In this sense, I am referring to other primarily third world countries where they often carve idols of worship. They carve them according to the image they want to worship. Over the years, I've learned that in a marriage, because of, well,… all the points you listed – couples often carve on each other. They try, by manipulating and controlling a person, to make them according to their image – the spouse they really want. I see many couples doing something for their spouse in order to get something from them in return. This, unfortunately, is the "love" the world has to give. But God called us to serve one another. In that spirit or servitude, we can also gain Biblical knowledge, learn to accept our differences, communicate effectively, understand one another, control the outside influences, and craft a vision and set goals for our marriages. In our 27 years of marriage, we've learned that importance of these Obstacles you listed Ron, and have made it a point to craft our yearly vision for our family. It has been a marriage and family enhancement in our home.
    Thanks again for a great post. Gonna have to print it to use it for my Premarital Counseling sessions. 🙂

  • It is really hard in these times. The percentages are not in your favor but what you stated here are things every couple should look over.

  • Angeline says:

    For me, there is no obstacles in marriage if you put God at the center. loving each other forever is a choice and that you need to keep your promise and be faithful.

    • ronedmondson says:

      If you can do that perfectly every time that's great. I personally am still a sinner many days. Most days.

  • Mark Tucker

    Tim Keller has said that sex is the concrete of the marital bond. Also, Jay Adams has a great little book called “solving marriage problems”. You touched on some of his points. The book mentions seven foundations that, when misunderstood, are at the heart of all marriage problems.

  • Jon says:

    I'll add one that comes out of your first two: The husband giving the wife UNCONDITIONAL love and the wife giving the husband UNCONDITIONAL respect. I think that I posited on one of your other blog posts something like: Imagine what kind of marriages we could have if he put her first (after God) and she put him first (after God) and he loved her unconditionally and she respected him unconditionally.

  • Lack of sex… seriously, I've seen it time & time again. Perhaps a simptom, but deffinately an obstacle to closeness. I recommend Tommy Nelson's Song of Solomon study

    • ronedmondson says:

      I totally agree. Men and women need sex for often different reasons, but I've seen it many times too. My approach though is always that if you fix the other issues, sex becomes a natural outcome in a healthy marriage. I do believe it should be a discipline though….and has to be…especially for busy couples.