I was listening to The Dave Ramsey Show on Radio one evening while driving and he said what I had heard before that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. But here is the good news, that percentage could be raised to 90% with the following seven changes. I am recalling these from memory since I was driving, so they may not be word for word as Dave listed them.
1. Don’t live together before marriage.
2. Wait until you are around 23-24 years old before you marry. Don’t marry at age 17.
3. Make sure your combined household income is about $50,000.
4. Attend church regularly and be on the same page with your religious beliefs.
5. Marry a believer.
6. Attend adequate pre-marital counseling.
7. Agree on the basics of marriage: How to budget money, how to raise your future children, how to solve conflicts, etc.
I don’t know about you but I like the sound of a 90% chance of success verses a 50% chance.
Studying the Song of Solomon together as a married couple can also up the percentages also. Solomon wrote his love song when he was probably around 40 years old. He was in love with the Lord (1 Kings 3:3) and his wife, the Shulamite woman. In Song of Solomon 1:1, Solomon calls his love song, “The Song of songs” or the number one Love Song at the top of the charts out of at least 1005 songs (1 Kings 4:32). Song of Solomon is a romantic ballad or a romantic story put to music.
This love song chronicles Solomon dating, proposing, marrying, going on the honeymoon, and working through his first argument with his new bride.
1. The Dating Process (1:1-2:7)
The bases of dating was
A. The joy of friendship (1:2). They both are believers. We assume this because the rest of Scriptures teaches this. This was not missionary dating where the saved date rationalizes dating an unsaved person by believing they will win him to Christ.
B. Character (1:3). “Name” represent the character of a person. Part of the character that impressed Solomon was her work ethic. She was a hard worker (1:5-6). Solomon met her when she was working in his fields leased to her brothers (8:11). She was embarrassed about her dark tan because it was a sign of a field worker. She was not fair skinned like the ladies of the court. But Solomon saw her bronzed look as an indicator that she was a diligent worker. Solomon in his Proverbs will praise the diligent worker in contrast to the sluggard.
C. Communication (1:9). Song of Solomon is a love ballad with two people talking to each other. Solomon praises her to help her overcome her inferiority complex. You are the one mare out of all the stallions for 1400 war chariots. Or, “You are one in a million.”
D. Integrity (2:7). This verse refers to their pre-marital chastity and is a theme in Song of Solomon (4:12; 8:8-12). They both wore their “Chastity bracelets.” Their dating relationship was based on integrity not lust.
2. The Engagement Period (2:8-3:5)
It is not how you propose the matters. You don’t have to take a knee at half-time at mid-court at a NBA game so your proposal will be on the big screens. It is why you propose that is important. The actual proposal is 2:8-12. Solomon was probably over promising here. But he was excited. You marry me your winters and storms are over. You marry me and your life will be filled with the smell of flowers and the music of birds. Love birds.
The major accomplishment in the engagement is solving potential problems or as Solomon described getting rid of the little foxes that spoil the vines (2:15). Foxes were 15-inch instruments of destruction. If an engaged couple cannot solve problems before marriage nothing magical happens at the wedding that transforms them into great problem solvers. Agreeing on the seven steps Dave Ramsey outlined would be a good place to start. Some couples never solve the issue of where they are going to go to church. So for years, the husband goes to his church and the wife goes to hers.
3. The Wedding Ceremony (3:6-11)
There is a public wedding. No eloping. The average groom would rather have a quickie wedding at the justice of the peace or $50 or a $100 South of the Border wedding in South Carolina. The other extreme is to put out $20,000 for a wedding to impress friends and the couple stays together for three years. Again, it is not how you do it or how much it costs, but why are you having a public wedding. But Solomon goes through the elaborate church wedding in order to tell his wife to be, “You are worth it.” “I am publicly committing myself to you before all of these witnesses.
4. The Honeymoon (4:1-5:1)
God has set His approval on the one-flesh relationship that starts on the honeymoon in 4:1 and also Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.” Solomon praises her three times in this love song. This is the first of the three. Her hair was like a goat’s mane. The dark hair of the Palestinian goat seen from a distance was beautiful. You might not want to say everything just like Solomon said it 1000 B.C. Solomon says her teeth were white, well matched, no huge gaps nor were any missing. In verse 7, Solomon summarizes. She was beautiful.
Dr. Walter Fremont a marriage counselor used to tell husbands: Give your wife 15 minutes a day of undistracted eye-to-eye listening. Not listening from behind a newspaper. And also give your wife three compliments a day. Dr. Fremont told of one husband who was going to follow Fremont’s advice. He got out his stop watch and told his wife, “Now you have 15 minutes, on your mark, get set, go.” Probably not the best way to start improving the communication in a marriage.
5. The First Spat (5:2-6:13)
One husband said he and his wife never had an argument because every time he saw an argument coming, he went outside for a walk. But he added, “You know, I’ve been going for a lot of walks here lately.” Apparently, Solomon also went for a walk and when he came back his new bride had changed the locks and he could not get back in. In 5:2-3, records the interchange between the two. He wants to reconcile but she refuses. Finally, they are reconciled in 6:1-4. But after the first argument, she is home sick according to 6:13. I actually had one wife tell me she intentionally started arguments with her husband just so they could make up and she could get some attention.
6. The Growth of the Marriage
Solomon takes his homesick bride back home for a second honeymoon as a way building their relationship after their first argument (8:5). For a very good reason Solomon is called the wisest of all men. He also does a renewal of vows with his wife in 8:6-7. This is the crescendo of this love song. In their vow renewal they committed themselves to a relationship that was permanent (8:6). The seal or signet ring was worn around the neck next to the heart. Their relationship was final (8:6). Their love was like the “grave” which never lets go of those in it. Their relationship was unquenchable (8:6-7). Many waters or trials will come like floods that could put out the fire, but they vowed that nothing would extinguish their love. One way we can keep our love strong is to forgive one another. They had forgiven each other. They were not holding grudges from the first spat. An unforgiving, bitter spirit is like a bucket of ice water dumped on a relationship.
In other words, we must always be working at improving our marriage. I thank God for my wife. I told her once, “If you ever leave me, I’m going with you.”