I felt like I was part of a TV sitcom as I sat in a circle of women listening as one requested prayer, “My daughter’s getting married.” Smiles and “ahs” erupted from the group. “But,” she added, “her future in-laws have rented a cottage at the beach for their honeymoon—and they rented the adjoining cottage for themselves!”
These newlyweds were forced to face a biblical admonition early in their marriage. “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).
There is a relationship hierarchy presented in Scripture. Ephesians 5:15-6:9 says our connection to Christ through the Holy Spirit comes first, second the husband-wife relationship, then parent-child, and last work relationships. After we marry, our relationship with our spouse comes before our relationship with our parents and continues to be our most important bond even after children are added.
God designed the husband and wife to stick together like Velcro. To do this they have to change some of their former ties. Here are some ways to leave.
A couple needs time alone to connect emotionally. That means they need time apart from parents, kids, friends, and other distractions that come between them.
It is difficult to be glued to the TV or your work and to each other at the same time. If the husband spends most of his free time with his buddies or connected to electronic devices, this will affect his closeness with his wife. If the wife spends most evenings out or on the phone, that detracts from the marriage.
When our children were school age, Larry and I protected one night a week for couple time. If we stayed home, they were not allowed downstairs after a certain hour. We also found walks to be a great way to gain some time away from others. It takes a while to unwind and connect on more than a superficial level. Couples should also enjoy events apart or with other friends, but they must guard their personal time together.
A couple needs to stand on their own pocketbooks. Living within their resources teaches them to look to God and work as a team. Some couples wanting to maintain a certain standard of living accommodate Mom and Dad to get financial perks. Depending monetarily on parents puts a couple in an adolescent role financially, can hinder bonding, and undercut the husband and wife’s roles.
Don’t develop close opposite sex friendships. One woman found me at a conference to say she had shared this teaching with her husband the year before. He had listened and quit having private lunches with a woman from work. That one change had made the biggest difference in their relationship.
God wants the husband and wife to enjoy their relationship with each other. It is not being selfish to guard it. It is not an exaggeration to say that your strong marriage will benefit you, your family, the community and generations that follow.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.