(Note: I wrote this article last week for Come Fill Your Cup, an online magazine and also their Facebook page. I wanted to share it with all of you, as well.)
When we got married, 28 years ago today (June 18), I was only 19. My husband was 25. We moved to southwest Kansas, which to someone who had never been away from my parents more than a week and who had lived a very sheltered life, was like moving to a foreign country (no offense to you all from SW Kansas!). Seriously. It was so strange to me!
That first year and a half of marriage gave new meaning to the scripture, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”, Matthew 19:5.
The concept of “leaving” in this scripture is very, very important. We had both left our fathers and mothers, and that’s very important in the marriage covenant. If the wife or husband doesn’t “leave” their mothers and fathers, there will be trouble in the marriage. If the parents are interfering in the marriage, there will be trouble. It was probably good for us to be four hours away from “home”, though we both missed it terribly. Young married couples don’t have to live four hours away to “leave”, but there certainly needs to be some space and distance between them to really “leave”, don’t you agree?
We quickly got acquainted with our new spiritual family, the church, and enjoyed our time with them. Still, it was just the two of us as a physical family. We were definitely “joined together” in our new life together.
The KJV of Matthew 19:5 uses the word cleave instead of joined. The Greek word for “cleave” in the Matthew passage means “gluing together forming a bond of the firmest kind”. A carpenter joins two pieces of wood together with carpenter’s glue and clamps. Sometimes the pieces are cut into a pattern on the edges, then matched with the other piece in a puzzle sort of fashion, then glued. The idea is that two pieces of wood bound together are even stronger than one by itself. Our marriages should be glued together by our Father’s Carpenter glue. We must be committed, but it must also be the total commitment of two hearts. It won’t work unless both hearts are committed and both are totally committed.
We were committed. And we still are, 28 years later.
Our marriage hasn’t been perfect. It isn’t perfect because my husband and I aren’t perfect. We both mess up. We both say things we shouldn’t say. We both do things we shouldn’t do. But we are both committed to the marriage commitment we made to each other, and most importantly, to God.
Marriage is tough, but sometimes, as adults, we make it tougher than it should be. Many times, just like with children’s fusses and fights, it’s our own selfishness and pride that gets in the way. Those problems result in arguments that are really just childish and silly.
One thing we laugh about now is about something that started a few years after we had been married. My husband would say I was nagging. I really didn’t understand the nagging part, so really tried to figure it out. I read the scriptures about nagging. I looked up the definition of nagging because I honestly didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. The definition was “reminding someone of something that they already know”. This confused me even more!
I remember talking to my husband about the “nagging” and asking him the question, “How do I know you already know it if you haven’t done it?” I wasn’t being sarcastic or rude or meaning to be disrespectful at all. I truly didn’t know. I’m not sure he knew, either. I wanted to understand so I could change if I needed to.
Now fast forward to a few years ago. I had asked about something and my husband made the statement, “Lori, I will never remember that if you don’t write it down.”. It was then that I realized what I never could have known early on in marriage. It was all in what was perceived.
My husband perceived my words early on in marriage as nagging because it looked as if I was assuming he had forgotten. And a few years ago I was assuming he would remember, but he knew he would probably forget. What changed? What had happened in those years in between where now he needed/wanted a reminder, but then he didn’t? About 25 years of marriage had happened!
You see, in 25 years a lot can change. We change. We mellow. We become less proud and more patient. We learn each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Our attitudes change, our bodies change, our minds change. Hopefully and prayerfully we have spiritually changed for the better, growing in the fruits of the Spirit. In marriage we change because learn to depend on each other and help each other more and more.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24
If there’s one thing I want the younger generations to know, it’s that men and women are different. Obviously they know that physically, but nowadays it seems as if some want men to be more like women emotionally. They want them to be able to feel as they feel and to know what they are thinking and want them to cater to their every whim. And you know what? It just can’t happen! Men and women were created differently (not just physically) by God for a reason. They are wired differently than we are, so they aren’t going to see things or feel things in the same way we do.
So, when I would remind my husband of things and it was perceived by him to be nagging, it was good for me to study it and strive to not do those things that made him feel less competent. And now that we’re older and he needs a reminder, I need to do that for him, as well….and be respectful about it.
We went to a marriage seminar a few winters ago. Trish Clarke spoke during the women’s session and said something that made a big impression on me. She said, “If it is in your power, as a wife, to please your husband, why would you not do that?”. Wow! Makes you think, doesn’t it?
If something is within my power, as a wife, that will please my husband, why wouldn’t I do it? If I say something that I know will displeases him, why would I say it?
We will accidentally say things and do things in marriage that will displease one another. That’s just the way it is. The problem comes when we deliberately do things that will displease one another. That’s just wrong.
Being committed in marriage means looking out for the best interests of each other. It means striving to please one another. It means keeping God at the center of our marriage.
There are many ways we can undermine the role of our husbands and distort the biblical model of marriage, but there are also many ways that we can uphold His standard. Sisters, let’s all make sure that we are doing our part to help other women know and understand their part in the marriage covenant as a Christian wife. Let’s make sure that we are being the teachers and examples that God has asked us to be for the younger women, and let’s make sure that we are living out the holy lives which God has called us to live.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5