God’s Expectations of Husband and Wife
Relationships in our homes have the power to bring either glory to God or grief to God. Most important is the husband-wife relationship. The marriage relationship has three major components: the husband, the wife, AND the relationship.
Roger and Rita sat across from each other in the wing-backed chairs in my office. While they had been married 15 years, it was clear they were emotionally isolated and vastly different in their individual moods. Rita began the explanation of their scenario. “Mrs. Dean, I believe there’s something you can’t quite understand. You see, I love God with my whole heart. There is nothing more important to me than Him.”
I quickly empathized, “Oh, I think I can understand. I too have given my life to Christ, since a child, and He is my Lord.”
Rita continued, “No, you see, He is everything to me. And I don’t care about worldly interests like my husband does. I only care about what God wants of my life.”
Roger’s face was the picture of disappointment, discouragement, and general grief. He bagan to disclose his feelings of hurt over Rita’s criticism of him not being college educated, but being a blue-collar worker. He lamented of the efforts he had made to relate to Rita, such as buying tickets for special events, where in she gave them away to neighbors–too much of a waste of her time when she could be studying the Word. She had returned an anniversary ring Roger bought her, to use the money for something else she wanted. Tears filled his eyes when he described their evenings, with Rita shut up in her bedroom, engrossed in her books, telephone, and music. For years, Rita had not allowed him any affection, while she kept herself very attractive and busy attending the various religious meetings she enjoyed.
Dear Rita had missed a very important concept in her understanding of Christianity. There was another entity in their home besides her and her husband: the relationship. Rita did not conceive of the idea that their relationship was an important third, living, entity in their home, that could bring delight to God or grieve Him.
Their relationship was an important third, living, entity in their home, that could bring delight to God or grieve Him.
I described the relationship as an unseen, but important entity in their marriage. It could be compared to a baby of theirs. If it were cared for, nurtured, and treated tenderly, it could be strong and healthy. This dependent’s welfare is gravely affected by the care the other residents in the marriage give to it. The relationship’s health must be regularly monitored, watching for symptoms of discouragement, distancing, anger, depression, apathy, boredom, resentment, acting out, and – a big one – lack of verbal expression of feelings and needs. The husband and wife must make problem-solving plans for any of these symptoms. Then the relationship’s health will be guarded and preserved. If such symptoms continue to flash yellow warning lights and no care is gien, the dependent relationship may die or, at best, struggle on, sickly and dysfunctional.
This baby, their relationship, was what had the power to emit the “sweet smelling sacrifice” to their heavenly Father. Sadly, Rita was not interested in caring for this unseen member of their family; only herself and her somewhat distorted understanding of God.
There are times when couples will have to expend energy for the relationship’s health, doing things that they, in their natural capacity, have no desire to do, either because of irritation, disappointment or just apathy. Basically, God tells us over and over to live a life of love (Eph. 5:1). While our individual character is important, it is best revealed in our relationships with others. Our relationships, again, have an enormous power to please God or grieve God. (See Eph. 4:30-5:2.)
If you are married, assess the aroma of your marital relationship before God. Does it bring Him sorrow or pleasure?
To read more on this and other family topics, see Building Family Values: Using the Tools of Bonding and Boundaries by Rodney and Nancy Dean, copyright 1994 Church Growth Institute/ChurchGrowth.org.