Text: Ephesians 4:27-32, 5:1-2
In continuation of the sermon on "overcoming marital challenges" we shall in this Part 2 consider some of the concerns in marital relationship.
1) Personal Commitment. To be committed to your marriage is to give it what it takes to make the relationship successful. It involves devotion from both parties and to be ready to compromise so as to preserve the relationship. Non commitment from either party will lead to disagreement. As a spouse, you should not be committed to your own agenda only. The two must be ready to work together as a team and be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of the union. Be ready to forsake and endure for one another and allow for mutual agreement over all issues. Each must have a right and positive attitude towards the relationship. Attitude such as "this relationship must not break"; "this relationship will last forever"; and "I won't be a stumbling block in this relationship". This kind of attitude will help a great deal. Non commitment from one party will lead to frustration, unhappiness and withdrawal from the other party. Brethren, I admonish you to remind yourself of your marital vows and be committed to them.
2) Living separately after marriage.
The Bible says whatever God has joined together let no man put asunder. Matt 19:6 says, "So they are no longer two, but one flesh, therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." Living separately after marriage is outside the norm. Intimacy will be lacking and this may develop into a new relationship which will not augur well for both parties. Praying together will be less and intimacy may be less readily available. No matter the number of phone calls, connecting through Skype platform, and exchange of photographs, living separately is deleterious to marital relationship. There may be reasons for doing so or for wanting to do so, it is just not ideal. When intimacy is less readily available new relationship is bound to emerge and interest will shift. You are admonished to live together in harmony as one under one roof as husband and wife.
A wife is of many parts as she has so many roles to play. Some of her roles are listed in Prov 31:19-28. A wife must be a godly woman, must be of noble character, diligent and prudent.She provides food for her family, takes care of the environment, beautifies and decorates the home. She speaks with wisdom, she watches over the affairs of her household and she is always ready to build up her home. She reaches out to the poor and the needy. She is supposed to be a very good homemaker, be judicious and plan on whatever her husband provides. She looks after the children and get their meals ready at the appropriate time. She is a good helpmate and dependable partner to her husband. She is expected to be well mannered and be hospitable. Inability to perform and cope with all these may lead to disaffection from the husband and frustration for the woman. She is expected to be a good cook as this will endear her husband to her. It is a common say that cleanliness is next to godliness so the home must be very clean. Pro 12:4 says, "A wife of noble character is her husband's crown but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones”. I admonish you to let things be in order in your home, be judicious with your time and materials. Let your environment be clean and inviting and be of noble character.
4) Influence of external bodies.
The Bible says in Gen 2:24 says, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother,and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Marriage is designed to be an exclusive club and the only two members are the husband and his wife. Any other person related to them or associated with them are external bodies or "third parties."
External bodies in this case can be parents of either spouse, children, in-laws, relations, friends and professional colleagues. Other interest like sports, computer games, television, addiction and work can come in between you and your spouse and thereby diminish your relationship. Matt 19:5 says, "They are no more two but one flesh." Anything or anyone coming in between is an intruder. A couple needs to actively protect their relationship from external bodies. Parents must be honoured as much as possible, but they should not be allowed to dominate your relationship. It is your responsibility to train your children and bring them up in the way of the Lord. In fact God expects godly seeds from your relationship but this should not erode into that relationship. Children need boundaries. Mothers especially should watch out so as not to over identify with children at the expense of their spouse. You should try to watch out other interest that may or likely be contending with the interest of your spouse.
Conflicts and weaknesses in your character will always give room to intruders because it is an opportunity for such to get in between. Resolve conflicts amicably and do not capitalise on each other's weaknesses. Never listen to gossips. Pro 16: 28 says, "A perverse person stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends." Give gossips no chance.There is always fear of intimacy when a spouse has too many friends. Also attachment to parents and siblings must be controlled so as to avoid clash of interest. Do not over commit your time to other things. No two families can be the same.Your relationship is unique so you have to actively guard and protect it from external bodies.
Brethren, it is possible to overcome all these challenges and live a happy married life. Your attitude matters a lot in this case. Make up your mind to be an overcomer. May you overcome in Jesus name.
Prayer: Our Father and our God, who Himself ordained the institution of marriage, grant me and my spouse the grace to be able to keep this unique relationship in obedience to your precepts. Grant us the grace to hold on to our marital vows in whatever circumstances in Jesus's name I pray. Amen.