I looked for a hidden camera when a woman in our circle shared her prayer request. “My daughter’s getting married.” The group shared their delight. Then this concerned mother dropped the bomb. “My daughter’s future in-laws have rented a cottage at the beach for their honeymoon—and they’ve rented the adjoining cottage for themselves!”
The “gift” from the groom’s parents forced this engaged couple to set a biblical boundary before they’d even said, “I do.”
Scripture presents a relationship hierarchy. Our relationship with Christ comes first, the husband-wife relationship comes second, and then the parent-child and adult child-parent relationships (Ephesians 5:15-6:9). Marriage continues to be our most important relationship even after children come. If we fail to keep this order right, everyone, including our children and parents ultimately suffer.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV).
How do couples leave and hold fast to one another?
Marriage partners must:
- Leave physically—
A couple needs time alone to connect emotionally. That means they need time apart from parents, kids, and other distractions that come between them. When children come, couples must carve out time for just the two of them.
Children, work, and aging parents require time and attention, so we must be intentional in protecting our marriage relationship. When our children were school age, Larry and I set aside one night a week for couple time. If we stayed home, they were not allowed downstairs after a certain time. We also found walks to be a great way to be alone and savor each other’s company. It takes time to unwind from distractions before we can connect on a deeper level.
- Leave financially—
A couple needs to stand on their own pocketbooks. They learn to look to God and work as a team as they live within their resources. Depending monetarily on parents puts a couple in an adolescent role financially. It hinders bonding and undercuts the husband and wife’s roles.
- Leave emotionally—
Other relationships must not come between what God has joined together (Mark 10:9). Don’t develop close opposite sex friendships. One woman found me at a conference to say she had shared this teaching with her husband after she heard me say it the previous year. Her husband quit having private lunches with a woman from work. That one change significantly enhanced their relationship.
After marriage, the focus changes from what I or my spouse wants to what’s best for us. That’s part of becoming one.
It is not selfish to guard your relationship with your spouse. #marriage Click To Tweet A strong marriage pleases God, benefits you, your family, the community, and generations that follow. Use safeguards to protect it.
This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one” (Ephes. 5:32 NLT).
You might also enjoy 7 Tips for Greater Intimacy in Marriage.
Question: What tips would you add?
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Lighthouse Ministries offers marital and relationship counseling.