Character, the summation of traits and qualities of an individual, is the bed rock of building a sustainable marriage. A quote by John Wooden, often used in the sports and business arena to stress that ability (talent) alone is not enough to keep you successful, is “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there”. I am sure there are tons and tons of sports figures, business men and women, actors and actress that you have either heard about know or perhaps you are one yourself, whose talent got them to the top but their character couldn’t keep them there. While this is the case for success in business, career and other works of life; it also holds true for marriage. Physical qualities, charisma, wealth, assets, personality, intellectual horse power, emotional stability, spirituality and so on can get you married; however character will help you stay married.
Character is like smoke, which cannot be hidden and will always find its way to the surface. This is why I find it interesting when couples get married and then are surprised at the character of their spouse. For example Mary suddenly realized after 1 year of being married to John that he has not been able to keep a job for more than 3months at a time in the last 5 years. Let’s look at some instances when people’s character came into question
Joseph: “How can I do this thing and sin against God”. Joseph was pressured numerous times by Potiphar’s wife to sleep with her but he declined. It’s good that he declined for obvious reasons, however whats even better is the reason he declined. Not because he felt he would get caught by his master but because he feared God. Character, being consistent with who you are behind closed doors. Couples need to understand that their individual relationship with God affects their overall relationship. Genesis 39:8-9
“Character, being consistent with who you are behind closed doors”
Isaac: “Perspective on marriage covenant”. Isaac and Rebecca got married and for 20 years they did not have any children. Isaac was 40 years old when he got married to Rebecca and they didn’t have their twin children until Isaac was 60. The bible says that Isaac pleaded with the Lord and the Lord answered him. In other words he pleaded with the Lord for 20 years, not stepping out on his wife for children. Character, being able to stand on what you believe, until you experience your desired result. If couples are willing to stand together to pray and address issues, their victory is guaranteed in that area. Genesis 25:19-26
“Character, being able to stand on what you believe, until you experience your desired result”
David: “Had an opportunity to kill Saul but did not”. Saul was king and realized David will be the next king; so decided to kill David to eliminate any threat on his kingdom. He took a number of attempts at David’s life but they all failed. David had an opportunity to kill Saul and reign as king but he declined saying “I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed”. David respected Saul’s office as King. There are times you respect your spouse and do what’s right not because they deserve it but because you see them as God’s blessing. 1 Samuel 24:8-10
“Character, doing what is right because it is right”
Abraham: “Character, being dependable”. While Abraham was still without a child of his own, God expressed these words to him “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord” Genesis 18:19. God made this statement about Abraham based on his character. There are times your spouse is agitated primarily at your inconsistency. Can your spouse depend and rely on you when it matters?
Marriage is a magnifying glass that focuses on the character of the individuals involved. Most problems can be resolved in marriage if couples will work on developing their character and not try to suppress character flaws with statements such as “this is who I am”, “accept and love me for me”. Just because you are hot tempered doesn’t mean you should celebrate that temper as this mindset makes it more difficult for your spouse to relate with you. If our goal is to be Christ like and the bible is our standard for living, then the mindset should be to constantly evaluate our character and ensure that it aligns with the word of God. Develop your character and watch your marriage flourish.
“Words produce Thoughts. Thoughts produce Emotions. Emotions produce Decision. Decisions produce Action. Actions produce Habits. Habits produce character. Character produces destiny” Dr. Creflo Dollar”
As always marriage is a journey and not a destination.