MY DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE
I can’t boast of being an expert on the subject of marriage,but I do have 32 years of experience failing and succeeding. However, becauseof the complexity of the institution and covenant, it is impossible for anyoneto actually admit to being an expert. That is my opinion.
Each person brings to the table their strengths andweaknesses, their baggage and brokenness, and the two must try to navigatethrough all this with love and understanding. That is no easy task. With thatin mind, I will try and help. With grace and understanding, I pray we allsucceed in love and happiness.
What does the bible say about marriage?
When the first “wedding” happened in the Book of Genesis,Chapter 2 verses 18 through 24, it describes the relationship between Adam andEve. God created all things, including marriage. The King James version usesthe word “cleave” to describe the married connection, but later the writers ofthe New King James replaced it with the word “join”. I think cleave better illustratesthe covenant union of marriage. Cleave means glued together. Join could meananything. Join the club, church, sport, join in; but to cleave has a morepermanent outcome. What a person glues together stays together. Cleave meanstwo separate persons becoming one flesh. Then, what one person does to theother, he or she also does to himself or herself.
“Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh,” Adam said ofthe wife God had created for him when He had taken one of Adams ribs and madeEve. God did not take a bone from Adam’s skull in case Eve may thinkherself superior, nor did he take a bone from Adam’s foot so that he may thinkEve beneath him. God took a rib, from under Adams arm and next to his heart.That is where a wife belongs, safe and cradled in her husband’s arms. It’s abeautiful story and describes the true meaning of marriage.
“Ok, but that was a long time ago”, you might say. Whatshould a modern marriage look like then? That’s a complicated question. Maybe alittle different, but not much. And what does a woman want out of marriage? Apartnership instead of servitude. Love instead of control. Safety instead ofthreat. Respect and equality instead of less than. Is this even possible? Ihope so.
Let’s look at these topics for a bit.
Respect, what does that mean in this modern world wheremen and women jockey for positions they can live comfortably with?
Respect in a marriage is described in the book of Ephesians,Chapter 5 verses 21 - 33. It speaks of our roles in the union of marriage. Paulentreats the wife to respect her husband, and the husband to love his wife inverse 33. Submit, husbands to God, and wives to their husbands. Submit is not apopular and modern term, I get that. Let me just say, it is far easier toaccept when both are submitting. When the husband submits to God and theteachings of the bible, when he loves his wife as Christ loves the church thathe gave up his life for it on the cross, it is a pleasure and a gift offeringto her husband when she submits.
When the wife is intreated to respect her husband, this issometimes confusing. What does respect mean in this case? Respect his authorityas if it is the law? Partly, it’s more in the line of honor. This is important.Does that mean the wife doesn’t have a say, keep your mouth shut and smile?Absolutely not! It means that as he submits to God and walks with the HolySpirit guiding his steps it’s easy to respect him, to honor him. And when heisn’t walking with God? Honor and respect him as if he is and it gets the wifeout of the way so that the Holy Spirit can work in the husband’s life.Sometimes we need to get out of God’s way for this to happen.
Marriage isn’t easy, and one particular uneasy time in mymarriage, I cried out to God for help, and He told me, “Get out of my way so Ican work in his life”. That opened my eyes, changed the game so to speak. Istood in God’s way in making my marriage better. I needed to let my husband goand stop trying to fix everything myself. I was making things worse. When I letgo and gave my marriage over to the One who created it, who blessed it, mymarriage got a lot better!
There is a reason why the bible states wives respect yourhusbands and husbands love your wives. It’s hard!
Women have been known to be in touch with “feelings” morethan men. However, feelings can be misguided and not based on fact. Facts areless manipulated by the enemy to cause strife between a husband and wife.
When a wife’s needs and feelings are ignored, however, thenit may take an act of God to train up a couple on what it is to be married.
When a husband has no time set aside for love, and I am nottalking about the sacrifice of 20 minutes between the sheets or a “date night”that consists of going to dinner like you do every Friday evening. That may begreat, but a woman needs to know she is special, cherished, safe, and secure inher husband’s love. She wants to have no doubt that her husband trusts her likethe Proverbs 31 husband does his wife. Sex does not show her this, in fact, ifshe doesn’t know that her husband loves her outside of the occasional words “Ilove you” and a “jump in the sack”, she will feel used and might expect paymentafterword.
A marriage based on mutual Emotional Intelligence is awin-win, however, we are all on various levels so we must respect where eachother are. That is the loving thing to do.
Yes, the loving thing to do, but it’s tricky. There is a lotof “feeling” in the word love.
Jesus spoke of love, a lot! He mirrored God’s lovefor us. He performed it everywhere He went. He placed himself on the cross toshow us what love is.
Love is patient. Patience is so important in amarriage, in showing your spouse love. It is the first description of what loveis in 1 Corinthians 13:4. It is easier to have patience when you understand whysomething is happening. Patience takes perseverance and trust. I find thisdifficult as most may. Developing patience is painful. I entreat everyone toplease do not pray for patience. Instead practice it or God will have youpractice it for Him… for years! I have a long story of the many years Ipracticed patience before God granted my heart’s desire for a daughter.
Love is kind. Speak kind words with a softness inyour heart. God designed women not just with softer bodies but hearts as well.This is our superpower! Step into it, embrace it! Husbands, likewise, speakingkindness will carry your marriage to greater heights than you could ever haveimagined. Test it and you will see. Depending on the health of your marriage whenyou start, though, you may need to practice patience along with kindness for awhile before you see improvement.
Love is NOT jealous or boastful. These two behaviorsare snares from the enemy. Jealousy causes such strife. I’m not talking aboutanother person coming between a couple, that is part of it. But jealousy of hisfreedom to make decisions, of his authority, or how much more money he makes, orhis jealousy of the woman’s joy in staying home and taking care of her family,having more time off from work, or even the deep friendships she may be able todevelop that may or may not include him, and so on.
Boasting, attention seeking, these are not as bad asjealousy, but a little goes a long way. That doesn’t mean a person isn’tentitled to be proud of something they have accomplished. But when it takesprecedence and takes power over your marriage with “I am always right and youare always wrong, always, never, you, you, you” then that person is in the campof jealousy and boastfulness.
This is not very emotionally intelligent and not based onfact. It is defensive, accusing, and a knee jerk reaction to something outsideof the union of marriage. It is not loving or respectful. It is about pride andit’s rude.
Love is not irritable. Hmm, that is a tough one. Somuch goes on in our lives that can cause us to be irritable. Frustrations atwork, being tired, chronic pain, things sometimes seem so hard, causing us tohave shorter tempers than we want. This is where the enemy can step in.“See what he just did, you deserve better. She shouldn’t treat you that way,make her submit to you. You have the right to…whatever that may be.”
Love does not keep a record of wrongs: “You did itagain! How many times must I tell you to…, that does it, the next time you dothat, I’m gone.” How about “you always talk over me, I don’t have a say, I seta boundary and you blow right through it.” These go back to respect andpartnership. It is not loving to disrespect your mate by not respecting theirvoice and boundaries.
Boundaries are a new thing. It is a way for a person to feelsafe and loved. Boundaries are parameters to protect the autonomy of the personsetting them.
When someone says “I feel safe when…” That is a boundary,a guide for the other person to respect the limits their loved one needs tofeel safe and secure. That is love. That is respect.
When someone takes the other’s right to a voice by talkingover them, by controlling the communication, by shutting down the other’s opportunityto contribute to the conversation, that is not love. That is not respect. Thatis not honoring the other person’s boundaries.
That is ABUSE. That is control and a violation of allthat marriage is about.
Love does not rejoice in the injustice of being “right” butin “truth”. My sister once said, “There is her truth and there is his truth.But the real truth is somewhere in between.” I believe that. Standing on “your”truth does not make it true; it makes it control, manipulation, boastful,prideful, and rude. Everything love is not.
Love never gives up, never loses faith in the other,is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. This is why Godhates divorce, it is not love. Divorce is selfishness and a lack of faith thatGod can deliver love back into a selfish relationship and change it intosomething beautiful.
However, God does not want a spouse to stay where thereis danger or abuse. Nothing but hate and anger can come out of a marriage withthese motives.
Control kills love.
Anger and rage kills love.
Manipulation kills love.
There is no growth in this kind of union. Only death.Death of love, death of spirit, death of oneness that marriage is supposed tobe.
You would think these parameters were organic, but they arenot, otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have been written in the bible. Thisstuff is hard. Submit, respect, love. It is easier for wives to love, easierthan respecting their husbands. It is easier for husbands to focus onfeelingless tasks assigned to them to support their families, but love? That ishard. How does one respect someone who doesn’t reciprocate respect? Love is thesame, if a man is not respected by his wife, how then can he love her? Aroundand around, we go, into the sinkhole of death.
Husbands and wives submit to the authority of God. Testit and see if it does not bless your union tenfold.
Now, let’s revisit the word “cleave”.
When two become one flesh in marriage – cleaving to eachother, it’s like they have been glued together with God’s supernatural superglue.
Divorce brings a cleaver to that one flesh and splits it inhalf. A bloody, tearing, splitting that covers our unions in violence (Malachi2:16 NKJ). Where there was one flesh, now there is two half persons, and themarriage bleeds out. The union dies. Love dies. The spirit of your covenantdisintegrates.
How can we protect ourselves, protect our marriages?
First, Study your marriage together. Cut out anythingthat could breed a negative cancer that will eat away at your joy with eachother. A couple can do this by studying God’s word on the topic, together.
Second, Study your spouse. A man that knows his wife,in more than the biblical term, knows how to love her the way she deserves andneeds to be loved. A woman who knows her husband and respects him gets out ofthe way for God’s blessings.
The world says we are equal and to “fight” for it.
God says we are equal and therefore choose equal, choose love,choose to show each other kindness, choose to work out your differences withlove and respect.
There is no “perfect” partnership, marriage, union,friendship. There is just two imperfect people striving for love, honor,respect and harmony in their home.
This is where grace comes into play. God has shown usgrace when He gave His only begotten Son to take our place on the cross. Hedied in our pace, the perfect lamb sacrifice to take our sins away. He took oursins to himself. He didn’t put those sins on our spouse in accusation,therefore, we should not do it either.
To live in strife, control, contention, anger, manipulation,makes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for you and me a mockery, negating Hissacrifice, dishonoring his life that He gave up for us.
Harsh? Not at all! What I think is much harsher is the worldwhere everyone walks around spewing the consequences of being “half” a person,whether you chose it or not. Half a person has trouble in every aspect in life,especially in raising whole, well-rounded children.
There is hope, though. That half person doesn’t stay halfforever. God will grow the missing half back with His love if we ask him.