It's no secret that the institution of marriage is constantly under fire. According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce - and that number is only rising.
To combat this trend, renowned evangelist Billy Graham has identified the primary reason marriages fail and shared some Biblical tips to ensure your marriage doesn't become another unfortunate statistic.
In a recent "My Answers" column published on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, the 98-year-old evangelist acknowledged that no marriages are "completely free" of conflict.
He said: "My wife, Ruth, often said that if a husband and wife always agreed about everything, then one of them wasn't necessary! God gave marriage to us, and He knew we'd need each other's gifts and strengths."
Graham said he's often wondered why so many marriages fail - and while there are a number of reasons, a big issue today is that far too many people are embracing the media's corrupted views on romance, relationships and sexuality.
"I'm convinced a major reason many marriages fail is because we've given our young people a false view of love," he said. "All too often love is seen only as an emotion or physical attraction."
The evangelist explained that true love - the kind of love God has for us-renounces selfishness and seeks, instead, to do what's best for the other person.
"This can happen as we put ourselves into Christ's hands and ask Him to be the center of our lives-and our marriages," Graham concluded, quoting 1 Corinthians 13:4-5: "Love is patient, love is kind. ... It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
Graham and his wife, Ruth, wed in 1943 and remained married until her death in June of 2007. The couple's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, once said of her parents, "They set the tone for our lives by the way they lived theirs. Their depending on God was obvious-Mother's light would be on late at night and early in the morning as she studied her Bible and prayed. And Daddy, even though the world acclaimed him as a great man and so many sought him for advice, would still get on his knees and humbly ask the Lord for His guidance. Through all of this, we learned that seeking God was not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength."
Billy Graham previously shared his thoughts on adultery, marriage and divorce in a "My Answers" column earlier this year. The evangelist suggested that God's highest goal for married couples is that they remain faithful to one another throughout their lives.
"How can you have a strong marriage? First, see it as a solemn vow of commitment-a commitment not only to each other, but also to God. In other words, realize that God has brought you together, and just as He was with you in the past, so He will be with you in the future. If you have never done so, commit your lives to Jesus Christ, and then ask him to be the center of your marriage," he wrote.
"Then ask God to help you love each other and help each other-even when it's not easy. Remember: the opposite of love is selfishness-and selfishness is the enemy of every relationship. In addition, pray and read God's Word together every day, and seek out a church where you'll be strengthened as a couple."