This week, my husband and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary! Getting this far was not an easy walk in the park, but there were certain things we worked on to make the years much, much better and happier and more in love than when we got married.
First, we sealed our “I Do” with a covenant, not just a contract. We signed the marriage contract for legal purposes, but the marriage covenant with our vows was made before God – “in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till death do us part.” That covenant was tested especially in the early years when adjustments to married life, our differences in background, values, way of communicating (or lack of it) caused conflicts. The problem is, the person you love the most could hurt you the most too when conflict remains unresolved. The temptation to “‘leave” or entertain past relationships come at those difficult times. But having God in the covenant made the difference, as we were not left to our own abilities to solve our problems or remain in our inadequacies. We can ask God for wisdom, guidance, intervention, work in hearts and minds, solution, for each hurdle, conflict, problems we face. And He comes through for us because He is committed to see any marriage that He instituted, work, if we will let Him. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 points this out: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up . . . A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
God makes up the third strand that strengthens our covenant marriage.
Second, we decided to follow God’s blueprint for our roles and responsibilities. Marriage is like a dance where we bring our styles, personalities, and uniqueness but we need to work as a team, ironing out our differences in order to move as one. It takes lots of practice, pain even, and purpose to perfect the moves so that the dance comes out as working together, not against, each contributing to the whole, and thus creating harmony, smoothness and beauty. In marriage, God laid out the command to the husbands to be a servant leader. He is to love his wife as his very own self, treating her with respect and consideration (1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5: 25-33a); Colossians 3:19, not bossing her around or neglecting her as if she is his personal maid that attends to his needs and whims. God puts a premium to his role that his prayers do not get answered when he does not deal well with his wife! He also gets the greater accountability and responsibility for his leadership or lack of it in the home. The wife’s responsibility is equally difficult – to submit to her husband “as unto the Lord” and “is fitting in the Lord” and to respect him (Ephesians 5: 22-24, 33b; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:). It means that our submission and respect are not based on our husband’s character or performance, although those could make submission and respect easier or much harder. Rather, we submit in obedience to God; we submit in all things that do not contradict God’s commands and principles.
To understand and appreciate these commands and the need to align our minds and hearts to them, we need to go back to when God instituted marriage in the garden of Eden. Adam was created and given God’s command to rule the earth as His steward, then Eve was made from him to complement and come alongside him to accomplish God’s command and purposes. God abundantly provided everything for them and communed with them regularly, as they tend to all the good things God has created. But they were deceived that God still withheld someting good from them, so each wilfully did the one thing God commanded they were not supposed to do. Eve, being deceived, gave in to the temptation while Adam, to whom the command was originally given, remained silent and passive. Worse, Adam also capitulated to Eve. As a consequence, Adam will have to work really hard to get something out of the ground, while Eve will have tremendous pain in childbirth and will always want to control or dominate her husband.
What took place is the reason God gave the command for the husbands to be the leader who submits to God and does what is good for his wife and family, while the wife makes it easier for her husband to lead by lovingly submitting and supporting him. That is how we “dance” in marriage to bring out the best in each other, and God’s ways work! (To be Continued)