Christian Marriage: Marital Harmony Is No Longer an Issue
By Wang Ran, Singapore
A Beautiful Dream
When she was single, Wang Ran always held on to a beautiful dream—the hope that after getting married, she and her husband would get along harmoniously, show mutual tolerance, be by each other’s sides for life, and grow old together. At that time Wang Ran had a great deal of confidence in herself; she felt that she was a person of good character who got along well with others. But reality did not play out as Wang Ran wished—after getting married, the myriad conflicts that cropped up in her life with her husband slowly ate away at her dream …
One Marital Conflict After Another
Early in their marriage, Wang Ran and her husband were still able to be mutually accommodating and tolerant, but after a period of time, all sorts of problems and conflicts came to the fore. Wang Ran is quite a clean person—she sweeps several times a day, and even if there’s just one hair on the floor she’ll pick it up. She keeps all of her belongings meticulously organized; they are never messy. Wang Ran thinks of this as a good habit, and that people can’t live comfortably unless their living space is clean and tidy. So, she also has her husband tidy up in accordance with her own standards. Every time she left home and returned a few days later, the first thing she looked at was how clean the house was; if it wasn’t up to par, she would angrily berate her husband: “Why haven’t you cleaned up? What are you doing at home all day, anyway? You’re so lazy!” Her husband wouldn’t give in in the face of Wang Ran’s rebukes, but would angrily say: “The house isn’t remotely dirty. What is there to clean up? You have a pathological obsession with cleanliness….” Hearing these words from her husband, Wang Ran would become even more angry and think: “I just want the place to be a little cleaner so that we can live comfortably. How could that be wrong? It’s clear that you’re just lazy and don’t want to tidy up, but you blame it on me!” Wang Ran believed herself to be right and wasn’t willing to show any weakness, so she continued to argue with her husband. This way, neither one of them was willing to give ground, each clinging to their own ideas until it got to the point that they wouldn’t even acknowledge each other—it was the start of a cold war between them. Wang Ran felt particularly wronged, believing that her husband wasn’t being considerate of her and wouldn’t try to share the burden of housework.
There were a number of similar occurrences in their daily lives. At times her husband’s cooking wasn’t to Wang Ran’s taste, and she’d have a few words for him: “Why would you put light soy sauce in this dish? It would have been fine with a bit of seasoned soy sauce—it doesn’t taste good with light soy sauce. And this dish, you should have put a little sugar in it….” The more she talked, the more right she felt, thinking that if it had been done the way she liked, the food would have turned out much better. But hearing Wang Ran’s nagging, her husband responded angrily: “If you want to eat it, eat it. If you don’t, then don’t. How can you find so many things to complain about?” His harsh, unpleasant words really upset Wang Ran. She thought: “The food you make just isn’t any good. What’s wrong with me mentioning it? Besides, I make food all the time, so I know how it should be done. You should listen to me, but not only will you not listen, you have such unpleasant things to say and refuse to understand me at all. How could you treat me this way?” The more she thought about it, the more wronged and upset she felt. She just stood her ground against her husband by refusing to eat in a fit of pique.
The conflicts between them just grew after their child was born. Wang Ran loved dressing their daughter up really beautifully and frequently bought her pretty things to wear, but her husband said it was wasteful, a child could wear anything, and they didn’t need to buy so much. Wang Ran did not agree with him at all; she thought that he was stingy and couldn’t stand to spend a little money on their child. So, she didn’t pay any mind to his opinion and continued to buy whatever pretty clothing she saw for their daughter. Seeing her continuing to frequently buy piles of clothing, her husband became angry with her and refused to even acknowledge her. They couldn’t agree on their daughter’s education, either. Wang Ran thought that they couldn’t show her any kind of fierceness or raise a hand to her, and that when she did something wrong it was enough to just reprimand her, but her husband said that was spoiling her and wouldn’t be good for her. One time when their daughter did something wrong, Wang Ran’s husband harshly scolded her. When Wang Ran heard the child crying she came at her husband angrily, saying, “She’s so little, won’t you scare her half to death by yelling at her that way?” While saying this she stepped forward, pushed her husband aside, and took their daughter out of the house.
Wang Ran and her husband frequently butted heads over little things like that in their daily lives. They were constantly bickering, always in a cold war—their lives together were exhausting. What was most painful for Wang Ran was that after a conflict, neither one of them would acknowledge the other, neither was willing to give in and admit fault. They’d be in a stalemate for days. Her parents-in-law and other relatives would often urge them to reconcile, but that just provided momentary relief and before long their cold war would start up again. Wang Ran felt very aggrieved over this, and she didn’t know who she could talk to about the misery in her heart. She often thought: “A husband and wife should be understanding and tolerant of each other. They should be confidantes who can talk about anything, but my husband and I are always in a cold war. We’re like the most intimate strangers and every day is miserable and stifling. What can I do to get along harmoniously with him? When will there be an end to this life of suffering and repression?”
Reading God’s Words and Finding the Root of Suffering
Where man ends, God begins. Just when Wang Ran was in pain and feeling lost, God’sof came upon her and her husband. By reading God’s words, they both determined that God is the Ruler who created the heavens, the earth, and all things. They accepted God’s salvation and came before Him. After that, in her interactions with brothers and sisters, Wang Ran saw that when they had a conflict with someone else in their lives, they would all recognize where their own fault lay, what kind of corrupt satanic disposition they were living within, and would read God’s words to resolve their corrupt disposition, thus defusing any interpersonal conflicts. This was incredible to her, and she felt that there was such a huge difference between believers and nonbelievers! She thought that before, whether she had a conflict with her husband, colleagues, or friends, she would complain about that person and malign them, saying the problem was theirs. She always looked for the cause in the other person, but never recognized her own fault. When that came to mind doubt cropped up in Wang Ran’s heart: “Could it be that my husband and I couldn’t get along because I wasn’t able to reflect on myself and was always focusing on him, looking for his problems?”
In a gathering, Wang Ran spoke up about her inability to get along with her husband, and a sister found a passage of God’s words and a passage of fellowship that dealt with her confusion. Wang Ran read these words from God: “Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, his original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. Thus, he has lost his obedience and love toward God. Man’s sense has become aberrant, his disposition has become the same as that of an animal” (“To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God”). The passage of fellowship said: “People’s dispositions are all fairly arrogant. People don’t listen to anyone, they see faults in others and cannot see their strong points. On top of that, everyone has a certain personality, certain characteristics, and they’re disparaging of anyone they see faults in and don’t want to look at them or deal with them. They judge them, then both people look down on each other. These are serious issues for most people and this causes people’s interpersonal relationships to fall into stalemates, into tension. … And there are some people who always talk down to others, who like to control people and have others listen to them, but never listen to others. That kind of person isn’t easy to get along with either” (“How to Build Church Life and the Meaning of Building Church Life” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (I)).
After Wang Ran finished reading, her sister shared in fellowship: “When God first created mankind, they were not corrupted by Satan. They were people with conscience and reason who were forgiving and tolerant of each other. They could get along harmoniously with others—they had a human likeness. But later on humanity was corrupted by Satan and we became full of arrogance, selfishness, despicableness, crookedness, deceit, greed, and evil, and other satanic dispositions. We also became really self-important, wanting to have dominance in all things and have the final say. In dealing with others we always believe that our own views and notions are correct and always want others to listen to us and do what we want. When someone else raises a different opinion we’re unable to put ourselves aside and humbly accept their suggestions. When we have conflict with someone else, we focus on the other person’s faults, thinking that it’s a problem with them. We often look down on others and even complain against them or reject them. We never take other people’s feelings into account—we’re completely lacking any of the conscience and reason of a proper human being. We live reliant on our arrogant, self-important satanic dispositions, so how could we get along well with others? Maybe we’re able to rein it in for a short period of time, but as time goes on our corrupt dispositions will show themselves and we won’t get along with anyone for long. Just like you and your husband, when you were first married you were tolerant and magnanimous with each other, but after a period of time you saw things you disliked in each other and you would go to war with each other over the slightest little thing. No one was willing to concede and it ended up as a cold war where you wouldn’t even acknowledge each other. This resulted in both of you living in pain, feeling really constrained and unable to be free. That’s why, if we want to get along harmoniously with others, we have to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, focusing on reflecting on and knowing ourselves, seeking to change the satanic, corrupt dispositions within us, and living out proper humanity. Once our satanic dispositions have been changed, we become able to listen to others’ opinions in all things and negotiate with others. Then we are able to get along harmoniously.”
Hearing her sister’s fellowship, Wang Ran realized that the reason she and her husband hadn’t been able to get along well and were always in conflict was that she had been corrupted by Satan and she was full of corrupt, satanic dispositions, such as arrogance and self-importance. She wanted to be dominant in all things and always felt that she was right and the other person was wrong; she found it very difficult to accept others’ viewpoints or suggestions. It occurred to her that it wasn’t just about doing housework or cooking, but it was also about child-rearing—she always thought that her own notions and views were correct and wanted her husband to listen to her, to do things her way. If he didn’t listen to her, she would either scold him or refuse to acknowledge him, but she never took the initiative to humbly admit an error. She wasn’t tolerant or patient with her husband, but instead always complained that he didn’t take her feelings into account, and as a result, they frequently initiated “battles,” and then began a cold war. This threw their lives into pain, and their family members were also very worried for them, and at their wits’ ends. Wang Ran also realized why so many once-happy families had ended up disintegrating. It was because they had been corrupted by Satan and they were living based on their corrupt satanic dispositions, making them incredibly arrogant, self-important, selfish, and despicable. Everyone was living for their own personal benefit, and couldn’t help but have frequent conflict even with those who were most near and dear to them. No one gave in to anyone else and would even become bitter enemies, cutting off contact for the rest of their days. Only then did Wang Ran realize how harmful a satanic disposition is for people, and that she could no longer live her life based on that.
PuttingInto Practice and Interacting Harmoniously
Wang Ran later read the following two passages of fellowship: “In order for people to interact normally with one another, they must possess a few principles of practice. These principles should not only include not taking advantage of others, not harming others, but having some love. They further include having a conscience and rationality, helping one another, showing tolerance to one another, caring for others, letting others benefit in all situations, considering others, not just caring about yourself, showing compassion for others’ weaknesses, and forgiving the transgressions of others. If we have these few principles, we will be able to build a normal relationship with others and we will be able to live in harmony with each other” (The Fellowship From the Above). And: “A husband and wife rely on their consciences to maintain a proper relationship. Without a conscience, they won’t have any feelings for each other, and if you lack reason, there’s no way to manage a marital relationship. If you have a conscience and reason, then your actions will show your spouse that you’re a good person, and they will admire your character and will be better to you. If they don’t admire your actions, if they don’t approve of them, if you lack love, humanity, and conscience, then they’ll find you distasteful. So, interpersonal relationships are sustained by conscience and reason, and without these things, people cannot have proper relationships with others” (“Only With the Truth Can One Shred His Corrupt Human Nature and Live Out Normal Humanity” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (VI)).
These texts shared very clear fellowship on the path of practice to achieve harmonious relationships with others. Wang Ran learned that what was most key in relating to others was having a conscience and reason, forsaking her own satanic disposition of arrogance and self-importance, being tolerant and patient with others’ faults, and being loving, caring, and forgiving of others. She should think of others in all things and look at issues from the other person’s perspective. Mutual love and forgiveness were particularly important between husband and wife—they couldn’t just look at the issues the other person had, but had to learn to put themselves aside and accept their spouse’s views and perspectives. Only that was what should be lived out with proper humanity. Wang Ran quietly resolved: “In future conflicts with my husband, I will first come before God to pray and reflect on myself. I will no longer act or treat my husband based on my arrogant disposition, but I will put God’s words into practice and live out proper humanity so that we can get along harmoniously.”
After that, when her husband didn’t clean or tidy up well enough, Wang Ran considered that everyone has different standards for cleanliness. She couldn’t demand that he go according to her own standards, nor could she brood over how clean things were or reprove her husband. Instead, she prayed to God so she could forsake her own arrogant disposition, and if the house was dirty she would do a bit more. When her husband made food she no longer nitpicked—she’d just eat whatever he made and wouldn’t turn her nose up at it because it wasn’t good enough. Since everyone’s tastes and cooking styles are different, her husband didn’t absolutely have to make food based on her preferences. On the occasions that the two of them got into conflict and her husband blamed her, she rushed to pray to God and reflect on what she had done wrong. After that she was able to put herself aside and take the initiative to apologize to him, and no longer argue with him. As for how to raise their child and buying clothing for her, as long as her husband was correct Wang Ran would accept his opinions and wouldn’t insist on her own way of doing things. Once she put God’s requirements into practice, she discovered that her husband had also undergone a change. Once after he had sounded off, he suddenly apologized to Wang Ran, saying: “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have blown up at you like that. I’m so arrogant and I just cared about blowing off some steam. I didn’t take your feelings into account—I wasn’t remotely tolerant toward you….” Seeing her husband’s transformation, Wang Ran felt both surprised and comforted. She thought of the fact that she was no longer as arrogant or self-important as she had been in the past and that her husband had changed as well, even offering up apologies to her—these things had never occurred between them before. These things had certainly been achieved by God’s words! Just then, Wang Ran’s resolve to put the truth into practice became even greater. In the future, when interacting with her husband she would do things according to God’s requirements and forsake her own arrogant disposition. That way, their conflicts would become less and less, and even though there would still be times they’d crop up in their lives, after that they’d be able to read God’s words together, pray to God, each reflect on what they had done wrong, what corrupt disposition had given rise to that, and share in fellowship with open hearts. Then, they would practice according to God’s requirements. Once Wang Ren and her husband practiced in accordance with God’s words, their interactions became smoother and smoother—this was entirely God’s words changing them, and it was God’s work taking effect in them. Wang Ran couldn’t help but offer up her thanks and praise to God!
Wang Ran read another passage from God’s words: “People have a normal relationship with each other, they do not stand alone, and their lives are neither mediocre nor decadent. So, too, is God exalted among all, His words permeate among man, people live in peace with one another and under the care and protection of God, the earth is filled with harmony, without the interference of Satan, and the glory of God holds the utmost importance among man. Such people are like angels: pure, vibrant, never complaining about God, and devoting all their efforts solely to God’s glory on earth” (“Chapter 16” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe). Wang Ran was very moved by these words; she realized that only if she reflected on and recognized her own corrupt disposition from within God’s words, was able to forsake the flesh in a practical way, practice according to God’s words, and live out proper humanity would she be able to get along harmoniously with others and maintain proper interpersonal relationships. Without coming before God or the watering and guidance of God’s words, no matter what we do to make peace, we’ll never be able to resolve a couple’s inability to get along with each other. God’s words are the only panacea to cure marital conflict! Thanks be to God!