In the parable of the sower, Jesus discusses how the Word of God hits some people’s hearts. Some people bear fruit for God as a result. But others do not bear fruit because they exhibit “thorny soil”—soil that is choked out by the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things (Mark 4:1-20)
The issue of bearing fruit doesn’t only apply to the individual lives of believers, but also to marriages. Some men and women love God but their marriages are never great because they never bear fruit. Why not? For the exact reasons Jesus gave.
In this Marriage Builder, I want to single out the first main fruit-killer which Jesus mentioned, because it is one that affects almost all of us.
This marriage killer is stress, or as Jesus describes it, “the cares of this world.” We were not created to operate in stress. We were created to operate in peace. Marriages require emotional energy and stress robs us of that energy.
Have you ever had a particularly stressful day or week? Afterward, it’s hard for you to relate to other people, because you are worn out emotionally.
Bonding doesn’t happen because of proximity. You can’t just sit on a couch together watching American Idol. You have to interact. You have to get emotionally involved, and this becomes very difficult when your emotions are already worn ragged due to stress.
But stress doesn’t just hurt relationships emotionally. It damages them physically, too. The number-one sexual problem among women is inhibited sexual desire because of stress and physical exhaustion.
Being stressed-out is a sex-killer for both husbands and wives. That’s why couples tend to have the best sex when husbands help with the kids, or the dishes, or the housework. This is a turn-on for the wife because, among other reasons, it reduces her stress.
Stress can also be a health-killer. The primary reason for doctors’ visits today in America is stress-related illness. Stress even rubs off on our children, who intuitively know when their parents are stressed. Sometimes kids will even develop physical problems because they observe their parents’ stress and internalize it.
God did not create us to live this way. We are not supposed to be like those plate-spinners at the circus, who put so many plates in motion that, eventually, some of them begin to drop and break. When that happens, you have broken children, broken bodies, broken emotions, and broken marriages.
The rule for not letting “the cares of this world” affect your marriage is this: less is more. Are you trying to do too much? Have you taken on too many responsibilities at work, or even church? Are you putting your income or success above your marriage? Those are questions we need to ask and answer.
The best lives, and best marriages, will always be the simple ones.