Archive for the Holy Matrimony Category
Couple of years ago a young lady preparing for marriage informed a pastor in a dialogue that she believed marriage is a contract, where every party must play their role in the relationship. Although this statement is the definition that many people have when it comes to marriage. This is because our society is a contract-oriented one.
Reasons for contract is to make room for future and holding people responsible to oats promised. We believe very strongly on the things written down with a legal backing, as this will be the strength of the relationship. As much as we think this strengthens the relationship, experience has proved us wrong, as divorce even among Christians is as high as none Christians if not even higher. Further we assume that with contract you can be more certain that the person or company will live up to their claims. Many homes are therefore built on this contract mentality; if a party in the relationship keeps his part then the other will keep hers. It is assumed that then all will well. Marriage therefore is according to our society’s definition a case of ‘if and then’.
In my opinion I have the faith that marriage is more than ‘if and then’. The idea of ‘if’ one party fulfills his part ‘then’ the other party will fulfill her part. If this mentality is the foundation of any marriage, such relationship becomes legal. Such relationship is guided by ‘dos and don’ts. It will now be filled with all expectations from every party involved in the relationship. The marriage with such principle will be more of work than grace. God in this kind of relationship is out of the equation as the issue arising from it is always drawn on the table of ‘if and then’.
A good study of the scripture shows that wherever there is true relationship there must be covenant. At the creation of man there was covenant that God made in creating man in His image. The Triune God was in covenant agreement with Himself in the Son and Spirit. The relation of God with man was on covenant. It was a covenant of unbroken relationship, as man exists by His breath. It means God is in man.
The creation of the woman for the man was on covenant as well. Woman was made that man would not be alone. The woman was carved out of the man. She is a product from the man. She contains part of man in her as she was formed from the man’s rib. The completion of man is in the woman and there is no woman without the man. No man can be born without the woman (Adam the only exception). Such relationship is beyond ‘if and then’.
The creation of marriage is God’s idea and making. When God is involved in matter it is with a covenant. God is in a marriage for the purpose of changing man from what is not good to what is good. Such creation is with benefit. God depicted this in His dealing with Noah before and after the flood. God planned to save the world through the building of the ark. The part played by Noah is to follow the instruction of God while God will fulfill His part in saving Noah and his entire posterity.
God’s dealing with man is from covenant perceptive. In every relationship God takes the initiative of making it a covenant. Is God trying to put man in bondage, you may ask? To this I submit that covenant is for the benefit of man.
The Old and the New Testament is full of covenant. The scripture told us about the covenant of God with Abraham, Moses, David and the host of others. The role of the prophets in the scriptures is to tell and remind the children of God of their covenant relationship with God. In the New Testament Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament covenant prophecies. He did not only fulfill the Old covenant but to make the New ones, which is better than the former. All these relationship was not based on “if and then” matter but on covenant.
Apart from relationship between God and man, we can see that friends like David and Jonathan entered into a relationship that none of them can back up from. The dialogue of Ruth with Naomi was more of a covenant than persuasion. This is not a relationship based on ‘if and then’ but on life.
Therefore, we should not be surprised to discover that in the Bible, marriage is also viewed as a covenant between a man and woman. The wise man wrote in Proverbs 2:16-17 warning his son against becoming involved with a wayward wife who “abandons the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God,” he indicates clearly that marriage is a sacred covenant. It is not based on the fact of ‘if and then’.
At other times God refers to His relationship with Israel as that of marriage. Through prophet Ezekiel in Chapter 16:8, He described Israel as an adulterous wife for whom he yearns. “‘I pledged Myself to you, entered into a covenant with you, and you became mine.’ This is the declaration of the Lord God. Marriage is covenant and not contract of ‘if and then’
In my next blog, I will look at the characteristics of covenant as it relates to marriage.
In secular psychology, there was an emphasis on openness and honesty, where couples were encouraged to share every thought and feeling with the idea that they would have more intimacy. John read this and one day came home after work shared with his wife Suzan his feelings at the restaurant during his lunch break. John just got married about six months ago. He met with his college mate at the restaurant and he felt like going on a date with her. Upon telling Suzan, she was devastated. How could John think that? John tried by all means to assure Suzan that it was just a thought that flashed through the mind, this made the wife to place John on the unfaithfulness watch. This broke the confidence in their marriage. It was not long after this episode the family broke.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to intimacy among spouse. There is need to depend upon the wisdom of God in developing our intimacy. Like I said in the last blog, communication is the principal thing, and to have good communication, there is need for wisdom. This wisdom comes from above. One of the principles we must understand is that meanings cannot be transferred. So in attempt to deepen your intimacy understand different levels of communication.
There is the casual communication of how are you? Many respond to without thinking ‘fine’. Many couples have this level of communication in their relationship. Others less thoughtful communication are have a good day.” “I love you.” “Be careful.” “See you later.” “Goodnight.” “Take care. Although they are good but nobody thinks deeply on this before responding on this statements. This is just public communication that does not tell the other person what the partner is passing through. The wife of a brother asked the husband who has gone to work for two weeks how was the work? He responded fine. Away for two weeks the wife wants to hear more than one word for such long time away from home. Others answer Hmm to all the request of their spouse. This will not bring intimacy. It is good but there is a better way leading to intimacy.
Next to this level is the when the spouse is talking to the partner although pay attention but just keep getting fact without volunteering any contribution. This is not going to promote intimacy. It is like listening to News without any contribution from the listener. It is reporter’s mode of communication. Many couples simply share with each other the facts that are necessary to carry on daily life, but their relationship doesn’t go beyond that. Some couples that communicate regularly on this level think that they really have good communication. In reality, little intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or physical intimacy can be built on this level of communication. This is good but there is a better way
The next one is opinion sharing. This level is better than just reporting fact to one another. It is bringing your opinion to the issue that your partner placed on the table. The statement in this level is like I wish we could go to warmer place than here this year since our children are now grown to take care of themselves without our supervision. I think we should bring grandma from the village to where she can have better care. This will give the partner the chance to read other’s mind and contribute immensely. In this there is conflict of opinion but they can agree to their disagreements through mutual talking and view of each other. Typically when people talk on this level, they watch for the response of the other person. If the other person responds positively to their ideas, they continue talking and asking questions from each other. If the other person, however, has a negative response that is expressed in words or facial expressions (a frown, raised eyebrows, narrowed eyes, a yawn), then the other person may quickly bring the conversation to a close and retreat to a safer subject.
Intimacy building communication must give freedom to other to think differently. It is not necessary that a couple agree on every subject. They can talk on the subject amicably; it does not mean they will agree on all. Such differences need not affect their intimacy. But when one tries to force the other to agree with his opinions, then intimacy evaporates and argument or silence prevails.
The next and the best level is when we talk at emotional level. It’s telling about how you feel. Hurt, disappointed, angry, happy, sad, excited, bored, unloved, romantic, or lonely. Many couples don’t feel like expressing their feeling for it makes them feel weak and not in control. There are some who feels like sleeping with their spouse but will not say it so that the partner will not see them as being loose. For most people, sharing feelings is more difficult than sharing thoughts. Our feelings are more private. Some people are so private that they even keep privacy with their spouse. What we feel about something most vividly communicates our uniqueness as a person
Many couples seldom communicate on this level because they fear that their emotions will not be accepted. A wife says to her husband, “I really have been feeling depressed for the last few days,” to which the husband responds, “Depressed? Woman, how could you feel depressed with all the things you have?” Chances are the conversation is over, and the wife will be reluctant to share her feelings from that point on.
When we repress our feelings, our spouse is left to imagine what is going on inside of us. Couples often misread each other and develop misunderstandings. In order to stimulate communication, we must come to accept the fact that we will feel differently, even about the same thing. This will lead couples to open level that speaks the truth in love and they are honest about each other. It allows each of us the freedom to think differently and feel differently. Rather than condemning one another, we seek to understand our spouse’s thoughts and feelings, looking for ways to grow together in spite of our differences.
Finally my prayer is that God will build our homes.