The Acts of Sustaining a Happy Family
Every couple desires a united, happy, flourishing family. But only a few work it out. Getting married is not easy; staying married is much more difficult. Staying happily married is indeed a blessing from the Lord, coupled with sincere love between spouses and supported with prayers (Eph. 5:25-26, 28). What really threatens marriages is sin; what renews them is forgiveness; what makes them strong is prayer and trust in God’s presence. Conflict between spouses is not a sign that the sexes are incompatible; nor is there such a thing as a generic disposition to fidelity or some special psychological disability for life long commitments. Many marriages, however, are endangered by a lack of communication and consideration, economic and social problems…… That is why understanding, acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation, in confession as well, is an essential part of every marriage.
To stay happily married, spouses would, among other things, have to do the following:
1. Decide to make their marriage work:
There are no perfect marriages, but there are happy ones. No marriage is immune to trials, failures, crises or even total collapse. What keeps marriage going in most cases is the couple’s fundamental decision to make their marriage work. Proverbs 14:4 says,” where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” Like the ox, marriage is a great, productive thing. But if you are going to have ox poo, endure the smell and clean the mess. There is no such thing as a “poo-free”marriage.The problem is, many don’t expect to find any poo at all in their marriage, and when they encounter thing that stinks, they see it as a sign that they married the wrong person. Contrary to what many believe, the success of a marriage has little to do with marrying the right person (if at all there is such thing like right or wrong person in marriage).A successful marriage is not the result of marrying the “right” person, feeling the “right” emotions, thinking the “right” thoughts…..It’s about first, taking the “right” decision, namely, the decision to make your marriage work, and then doing the “right” things.
2. Understand your spouse:
How often we see a cheerful, loving happy home turns soar. There are spouses living as strangers under the same roof. Many marriages have broken up. So many factors could be responsible for this. But at the basis of it all is inadequate or lack of understanding of the nature of one’s spouse or the type of marriage an individual is into. There are four major types of marriage, namely:
i Traditional Marriage
In traditional marriage, the head of the family takes all the decisions while the other members simply obey. There is little or no room for consultation, discussion or other opinion from anyone. In most cases, any other opinion is perceived as disrespectful to the order of the head. The relationship is more like ‘boss-subordinate’ relationship. Companionship, romance, tenderness (tender loving care) and the likes are sparingly experienced in this type of marriage. If a man has this traditional view about marriage, then the wife is treated like a subordinate. If on the other hand, a woman has such notion about marriage, she would never be forthcoming in family discussion because she believes the role of the husband is to give instructions while she simply obeys. In any case, crisis is not far from such a family if the wife of a traditional man feels her voice must be heard, or the husband of a traditional woman feels his wife is not a ‘think tank’ he desires. This type of marriage will thrive only when both parties have the same orientation or view of marriage. But any child who doesn’t tend towards the same mentality may have to find fulfilment elsewhere
Companionate marriage, as the name connotes, companionship is the fabric of this type of marriage. Virtually everything is done in common. There is little or no ‘secret’ kept from each other. They play, relax, eat, and pray…together. There is not much of division of labour. Whatever work (including chores) there is to be done in the family is done by anyone who is free and capable. The man with this notion about marriage desires the company of his wife and would not want anything come in –between. Ditto the woman. There is discussion before decisions are reached. There is regular family union. One can authoritatively tell what the other would do even in his/her absence. If however either of the spouses does not have such personality trait, he or she sees the other as a burden. He /She feels his freedom is being hindered. He wants to be alone while his spouse wants to be around him. Soon, the spouse begins to feel unwanted and looks for companionship in some other persons or things.
iii. Romantic Marriage
Romantic marriage, everything is ‘romantic’ in this type of marriage. The spouses treat each other with tender loving care. They tell each other things that will make them ‘feel good’. They are birds- in -love. Romantic language and gesture are common place. The common saying that ‘two is a company, three is a crowd’ is in effect here. Everybody, including their children, is considered a crowd and distraction .In most cases, all children are pushed to boarding school because their presence is seeing as a burden. Visitation to the family is rear and should be by invitation or permission of the duo. Suspicion is not farfetched if there is no trust. Don’t snatch my husband is a constant joke or warning from a romantic wife to her daughter who is perceived to be closed to her husband/father. Crises abound when a man or woman with a romantic nature marries a traditional spouse. He or She wouldn’t find fulfilment. This may degenerate into infidelity and ultimate problem of break-up.
iv. Rescue Marriage
Rescue marriage, this is a type of marriage in which one sees himself or herself as the savior to his or her spouse. When a lady for instance, who finds no peace or fulfillment in either her family of origin (biological family) or family of orientation (the family that raises an individual), is married by a man to give her a new beginning, such marriage is regarded as rescue marriage. The danger is that such man may treat her like subordinate or mere ‘property’. He may never see or treat her like an equal in nature and dignity, a partner. The understanding of your spouse is the bedrock of a happy home. That will help avoid unnecessary comparison or complaints. You will be able to accept him or her and live happily together, united without destroying each other’s uniqueness.
3. Avoid the “Marriage Poison”:
The major enemy of a happy marriage is SELF-CENTEREDNESS; where each person makes himself or herself the Centre of every good, every gain, and every joy; where each person is quick to count the cost and complain about how his or her spouse has failed. Marriage is to make us responsible and committed. Selfishness is to marriage what a poison is to the body. It is virtually impossible to succeed at marriage if spouses don’t learn how to let selfish part of them dies Cf. Luke 9:23). Your marriage is not for you .It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you are married to. You marry to make your spouse happy. A true marriage (and true love) is never about the self. It’s about the person you love- their wants, their needs, their hopes and their dreams. Selfishness demands: “What’s in it for me?”, while love asks: “What can I give?” And, paradoxically, the more you truly love, the more love you receive. Your love, your marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.
4. Appreciate their equal nature and dignity:
Behind most trouble between spouses is rivalry and supremacy battle. The man seems to want to ‘take control’ as ‘the boss’, while the wife wants to be seeing as head. No family and can experience peace and progress in such an atmosphere. The Bible makes it clear that the woman was created from one of the man’s ribs. This means that man and woman are of the same nature and dignity. But there must be a head/leader in any human community to ensure sanity. The man is the head of the family. The relationship of marriage is that of complementary, i.e. of two persons, equal in dignity and state. The wife is not inferior to her husband, though he is the head. There should be mutual respect, harmony with one another and with God.
5. The four “Ts” of family:
To build a happy family, a proper appreciation of the four “Ts”, namely; Time, Trials, Trinity and Team, is necessary.
i .Time to mature:
Jesus was patient and gave the disciples the required time to mature. They did not know His plan and His way. They had their different personal agenda. But He was patient in knocking them into shape. He still does with us. Spouses must never lose sight of the fact that they are of two different characters, from different background, with individual likes and dislikes, personality traits, strength, and weakness, mannerism, etc. Their coming together makes two of them of his or her identity and uniqueness. This calls for understanding, time and patience. Don’t expect to “change or make” your spouse the type of spouse you want. Rather accept and celebrate your spouse, pray and encourage him or her hoping that (s)he becomes more of a responsible spouse. Time heals so many things .But when some issues are not treated promptly and they linger for too long, they escalate. Never make mistake about this.
ii. Trials to Strengthen:
Jesus faced so many trials strong enough to back out of His mission, but He never did. Trials are part of life and more so of any relationship. Marriage is no exception. In fact, you have it to the full, hence the wisdom of the church in marriage consent: “I …take you…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health…..therefore I promise you my faithfulness. So help me God.” Couples who live happily together have learnt to manage their challenges, trials or even crises. No one, no marriage is immune to trials and challenges. Depending on how they are managed, trials or crises are meant to make us strong and to strengthen our relationships both with God and our fellow human beings. Examples of those who managed their trials well are Abraham and Sarah, Mary and Joseph, etc. On the other hand, Job’s wife didn’t cooperate with him. Everything that happens to us has God’s mark on it. God has a purpose behind every trial He allows us to face. And, of course, He will not permit any trial or tribulations come our way unless there is a good. He wishes to cause from them. From the greatest moral evil in history, namely; the unjust brutal killing of His only Son, came Jesus’ glorification and our redemption. Jesus says: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. In the world you will have hardship (in your marriage, you will have challenges) but be courageous: I have conquered the world.”(John 16:33) The greater the trials or challenges, the more their potentials to build a bigger relationship fiber, spiritual and human. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8), (Cf. James 1:3-4). Meanwhile, you will never walk alone. This brings us to the third “T”
iii. Trinity (God) to Strengthen and Bless: Prayer is the key:
A lot of kneeling will keep us in good standing. Jesus was ever at prayer, dialogue with the Father over the mission. Marriage is between three person; man, God and woman. God is at the Centre. It is sad to note that so many families have shunt God out of their daily experiences and life. This accounts for why families get consumed by their crises. Marriage is a mystery that needs ‘Mystery’ (God) to keep it going. A family that does not devote quality time to pray will be consumed by crises and dry up. A family that does not devote time to the study of spiritual literature most especially the bible is like a ship without a compass, it is bound to derail, be consumed by crises and dry up (Cf. Ps. 119:105). The family must be built as a team around God.
iv. Team to Conquer and Grow:
“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3) Jesus formed a formidable team both with the Father and the Apostles to sustain the mission. A family is a Team.
Together, Each, Achieves, More. The scripture makes it clear that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up…. Where one alone would be overcome, two will put up resistance; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Cf. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). The couple must form a strong bond between them and with God (Man, God, and Woman).That becomes the ‘threefold cord’ that cannot be broken.
They must do same with their children. Family members should be the best of friends to /of each other, do things together: spiritual, and Social. As much as it is possible, they should pray together, plan together, play together, relax together, eat together.’ Together to Greater Heights’. Being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind, do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count the other more significant than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his or her own interests, but also to the interests of the other (Cf. Phil. 2:1-30). Together we stand, divided we fall.
© 2017 ODEWOYE FRANCIS SUNDAY