A. GOD INTENDED MARRIAGE TO BE A LIFE-LONG UNION BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE, A MAN AND HIS WIFE.
Incompatibility, a frequently alleged ground for divorce has no legitimate status before God. Yet the issue of COMPATIBILITY has become so important that we would do well to ask: What is compatibility in marriage? Is it really important? How can it be determined? Is it frozen and unchangeable? What can Christian couples do about becoming compatible?
B. IS COMPATIBILITY IMPORTANT?
Of course compatibility is important to a marriage. However, compatibility is not something which is natural to two people; Christian couples, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will have to work hard at improving their compatibility.
C. HOW CAN COMPATIBILITY BE DETERMINED?
Christian couples can develop oneness by working hard at their marriage and through the help of the Holy Spirit and the application of the Word of God in their lives.
Philippians 2:1-2 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” (NIV)
Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (KJV)
C.i. While all the studies shows that people of the same economic, social and educational level seems to get along better, such external compatibility is not absolutely essential because it is not basic. Christians should marry only “in the Lord”. Believers cannot disobey God by marrying unbelievers and expect their marriage to go well (2 Cor. 6:14ff). There is no other factor which is really essential for compatibility. Race, age, social status, everything else is secondary, although there may be desirable qualities within the one basic requirement of Scripture. Yet the scripture itself makes no such distinctions.
C.ii The background which two people bring into a marriage may be quite distinct, These backgrounds have contributed to the personalities which each marriage partner has developed through memory, relationships with parents, friends and others and the response patterns each partner has developed. If both the man and the woman have developed biblical habits of response to life’s problems, regardless of what their backgrounds may have been, they have more basic compatibility than two persons who had nearly identical cultural backgrounds but were not Christians. Because they will know how to sit down and work out their differences, they will take time and learn how to use the diversity of their backgrounds to enrich their marriage. That means that Christian counsellors never tell counsellees, “you can’t make it because you are incompatible; you would be better apart than together.” If both parties are Christians, or if they become Christians, they can make a success of their marriage if they are willing to work hard at it according to biblical principles by the means of grace.
2 Cor. 13:11 “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
1 Cor. 16:13-14 “Be on your guard; stand firm in your faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”
C.iii. One woman said, “my husband knows and understands people he works with better than me – his own wife – even though we’ve been married for 14 years!”
Counselling uncovered the fact that the difference was that he worked harder at knowing the people at the office than he had worked at his marriage. Married couples must learn to sit down together at a conference table and make a joint effort at solving the problems in their marriage.
D. PERSONALITY IS CHANGEABLE.
The most important fact to remember when thinking about compatibility is that PERSONALITY is CHANGEABLE. Personality is the sum total of what we are at any given moment. People are a combination of the genetically-determined nature, and what they have done with that nature. By nature the unsaved man will respond sinfully (cf. Ps. 51:5), but the Christian knows that a third factor, the person of the Holy Spirit, enters the picture to enable Christians by His power to respond in accordance with the commands of God.