“People who commit to relationships are much happier than those who don’t. That’s why married people are happier than those who just live together. When people commit to something that’s expensive or difficult to get out of, they report feeling happier. My girlfriend and I had been living together for a dozen years, and those findings seemed so clear to me that I went home and proposed. Now we’re married and I do love my wife more than I loved my girlfriend, even though she’s the same person. Commitment isn’t just a sign of love; it’s a cause of love.” (Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)
Male and female in His image: separate but one. God is Father, Son, Spirit: Three Persons yet One God. Man and wife are male and female: two persons yet one flesh. God created man and woman together to reflect him. Why? Look at Malachi 2:15.
15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
God made the man and woman “one” for this purpose: He wants godly children. So guard your relationship with your wife. When we were first married, I was quite insensitive to Patricia’s feelings and thoughts. Without meaning to, I would often hurt her feelings. I wanted to say, “Get over it; it’s not that big a deal.” That just wasn’t true. Unresolved offenses are a big deal.
It would be like having a new puppy that is not yet housebroken. He messes, you clean up right away. Now instead of cleaning up, what if we treated the puppy poop like we do our relationships: “Leave it alone; it will be okay. Just step over it.” Or what if we just took a bowl and covered it up? We would live our lives stepping over or around mess, all the time. Not a good plan!
Yet that is exactly what we often do with relationships. Instead of cleaning up our relational messes immediately, we allow them to linger and hope the problems go away by themselves. They don’t; and after years of this avoidance, many marriages are just one big complicated, stinking mess—almost impossible to clean up. Impossible to step around.
Adding to this, imagine the effect this has on children. And with these young impressionable little people in our home, they learn to repeat our patterns, carrying our baggage into the next generation.
Through the encouragement of others, Patricia and I learned to ask this daily question, “Are we clear?” If either of us had an issue to discuss, we would take the time to clear it up. This meant asking for forgiveness. Saying “I’m sorry,” was not good enough; but “Will you forgive me for ________?” It is not always easy to ask for forgiveness; and sometimes it is difficult to forgive. Simply put, Jesus helped us.
Going the next step, we agreed to present unity to our kids even if we did not feel unified. Often we would “conference” in our bedroom trying to reach the same mind on an issue. We had determined that God’s word would be our final word. We made mistakes in judgment, failed to act as one, yet kept trying. Establishing Biblical patterns of relating to one another changed us, and today we see fruit of it in our children. We have grown in our confidence that God’s truth is for daily life, for real relationships, for real marriages, for real parents.
For us and for you.