A Happy and satisfying marriage is a CHOICE. It is an act of the will. You decide that you will do right, act right, speak right, think right and relate right! You decide you want to be happy.


At the bottom of most of our fights and disagreements is a childish desire to have our own way often called selfishness. Think about it for a while. Rewind to the last angry episode you had with your spouse. You insisted you were right. And so did he. Your idea made more sense. He felt his was the best course of action. You thought to yourself,’Why does he always have to be right?’ Meanwhile he is saying to himself, ‘She thinks she is smart; I will not let her get away with this!’ Back and forth you argued trying to get the better of the other. Arguing can be exhausting, so after a while you retreat into some corner in sullen silence while he takes refuge in the TV lounge to stare blankly at the screen. The issue remains unresolved. Dialogue has been replaced by silence. Love has been displaced by resentment. In the place of joy and acceptance there is anger and rejection. The home is quiet. But quiet does not mean peace. There is no winner in this situation apart from the enemy of marriage and the enemy of every other good thing that God ever made. The devil sees another home crumbling already because the greatest casualty in all the fighting and warring is your marriage.

My wife and I have been counselling for quite a number of years now. We have been able to isolate five major areas of difficulty or conflict in marriage. These are:

Husband/wife roles



In-laws, and


None of these issues is a problem in themselves. Problems surface when we bring in our attitudes, perceptions, feelings, biases and prejudices from our own upbringing and socialisation and what we believe about marriage.

Other literature would add Communication and Conflict resolution to the above list. I would tend to disagree in that people do not fight about Communication neither do they maul each other over Conflict resolution. These rather, are the tools we should use to bring about understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, empathy and cooperation. These are the tools that help us to know we are on the same team and not rivals or competitors. These are the tools that should remind us that we are lovers. But as with any tool, these can be subject to abuse and misuse.


Marriage is not playing house. It is the real thing with real people and real emotions. It is not a dress rehearsal either. Marriage is adult stuff. Marriage is for the mature. Only those who are ready for adult decision-making and problem-solving need apply. Those still with some growing up to do should wait. If your relationships are characterised by childish selfishness then you should not get married, or if you are married already, get help and do some growing up.


God never intended marriage to be an institution where we seek to inflict the most misery possible on another human being. Marriage should be a place where the parties to the marriage enjoy each other’s company, much love, acceptance and affirmation and blissful togetherness. Get rid of the selfishness. Think about the other person’s happiness and comfort. And by the way, doing all you can to benefit your spouse can be the greatest act of selfishness ever!!

About the Author

I am a banker by profession. I am married with three adult children - all girls! The two older ones are now married. I became a Christian in my first year of University in the late seventies and have never looked back since. It has been a great adventure, I'd say. I am a senior elder in my local church responsible for the Bible teaching programs. I enjoy that. My wife and I are involved in a Marriage Ministry called HAPPY HOME PROMOTIONS which started way back in 1987. Through this, we have addressed scores of Marriage Seminars and counselled many, many couples - married and premarriage. The ministry seeks to fight divorce in all its forms. I still enjoy the ocassional game of soccer, albeit at a S-L-O-W pace now. I am a keen photographer, a fisherman, a carpenter as well as a beekeeper.


  1. Maxwell says:

    It is absolutely true that the foundation of discord in any relationship is SELFISHNESS and your closing statement, Eldergee, is spot on for marriage is not a contract but a covenant therefore, you always seek to give your spouse the advantage at your ‘expense’. However, a contract on the other hand, seeks to minimise liability and maximise advantages; it is self-preservative. Can you imagine how sweet marriages could be, if only we sought to give each other the advantage? It is the greatest act of selflessness, like God did when He chose to love us before we were even born and gave us the advantage.Selah.

  2. ElderGee says:

    I guess that is what makes marriage difficult: we know what is good for us BUT we do not do it because we have not died to ourselves. The ME stills acts in ways that are contrary to the new entity formed at marriage. It is really a strange feeling of losing something when you selflessly give to your spouse when in fact that giving is gaining!! I imagine a man buying a car and registering it in his wife’s name. The car is hers in every sense. But he has almost unrestricted access to it if she is not using it. Has he lost anything by spending in this way? I think not. He has been unselfish but is also a beneficiary of that act of giving to his wife.

    “… sweet marriages could be, if only we sought to give each other the advantage….” – Great comment.

  3. Thandiwe says:

    Im a newlywed and quickly getting the rude awakening that marriage isnt as easy as i thot it wer. Truly all problems come from selfishness and always wanting to be right. ive had a problem with my inlaws…they hvnt accepted me but now irealise Im not gonna wait for em to accept me. Im moving in and Will do all i can to brb selfless for my marriages sake nomatter how hard.

  4. ElderGee says:

    You have the right attitude. Be the right kind of daughter-in-law and soon they will have no option but to accept you. I am not saying that it is easy. I am saying that you are starting at the right place. With the support of your husband, you will get there. Love them. It will annoy them initially, but Love is very difficult to resist forever!!

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