VITAMINS FOR A HEALTHY MARRIED LIFE
A. A. S. Jebaveeran
Family is an institution established by Almighty God right from the creation of this world. It was not invented by any man, society or government. "God sets the lonely in families." Nowadays, Godís enemy Satan is attacking Christian families to thwart Godís plan and to bring disrepute to His name. As we take vitamins through our daily food or supplements to maintain a healthy physical body, husbands and wives need certain ĎBiblical vitaminsí to maintain a healthy and robust married life. Let us meditate from the Word of God on some important vitamins we need to nourish our married lives (Psa.68:6).
Vitamin A1: Accept One Another
God accepted us while we were still sinners. So also a couple should accept one another irrespective of any factor. Oneís spouse will definitely lose his/her physical beauty and strength as the days go by. But your acceptance for your spouse should increase as the days go by. The Bible says, "Our outer man is (progressively) decaying and wasting away." Bible also says that godly character is more precious than outward beauty (Rom. 5:8; 2Cor. 4:16; 1Pet.3:34).
VitaminA2: Appreciate One Another
Appreciation really boosts oneís performance and achievements. Generally we appreciate and praise people at the time of their retirement or death. If they have been appreciated while they are alive, they would have done more. Many times we take the hard labour and sacrifice of our spouse for granted and never appreciate them. We think that it is the duty of oneís spouse to take care of the family. Donít wait till your spouse leaves this earth, to appreciate him/her. In Proverbs 31:28,29 we read how the husband appreciates the virtuous wife while she is alive.
Vitamin C1: Commitment
Commitment to the marriage-covenant, solemnised in the presence of the Lord and His people, provides the Ďglueí to the marriage even at times of adversities such as bankruptcy, immobilisation or terminal illness. We must not permit our feelings to mislead us. One cannot have a healthy married life if one measures the relationship with the spouse only by the feelings. Those who are married feel love, joy, excitement, thrill, and so on. Feelings come and go, but not commitment. Remember that the Lord is a witness to your marriage-covenant with your spouse. Be faithful to your God-given spouse and "donít take the members of Christ i.e. your body and make them members of a prostitute." Make it a habit to renew your marriage-covenant whenever you attend a Christian marriage service (Mal.2:14-16; 1Cor.6:15).
Vitamin C2: Communicate
The Bible says, "Let every man be quick to hear, (a ready listener,) slow to speak" Listening effectively means that when somebody is talking, you are not thinking about what you are going to reply. Instead, real listening is trying to understand what the other person really means. It is caring about what the other person says and what he/she wants to say. We communicate not only with our words, but also with our looks, actions and attitudes. Try to understand your spouseís tastes, interests and shortcomings by observing his/her whole life, so as to satisfy, help and complement him/her. Be transparent with your spouse. Spend time with him/her and share your joys, sorrows and plans. Donít keep any Ďhidden agendaí in your mind (Jas.1:19 Amp; Lk.22:61).
Vitamin D: Be Sincere In Your Duties
God has ordained certain duties to both husband and wife. A husband should love, nourish and cherish his wife as a part of himself and be the head of the family. A wife should respect her husband, obeying, praising and honouring him and be his helper suited to his needs. It is wise if the husband delegates definite responsibilities and authority to his wife where she can best complement him. Each relies upon the strength and wisdom of the other. If the husband and wife cannot agree on a decision, the husband should decide. It may not be the best decision; but he, not the wife, is responsible to God for the decision he has made (Eph.5:22-33;Gen.2:18 LB).
Vitamin F: Forgive One Another
Donít add up your spouseís failures and mistakes so as to blackmail him/her in future. Donít go to bed with bitterness against your spouse in your heart. Satan will take advantage over you, if you donít forgive him/her. An attitude of forgiveness is the Ďlubricantí for a healthy married life. Never hesitate to ask your spouse to forgive you whenever you wrong him/her. Also be willing to forgive your spouse generously. Remember that our Lord never remembers the sins He has forgiven us. Dear reader, I plead with you to go and reconcile with your spouse if you are separated from him/her. Dear parents and elders, why donít you become a peacemaker of separated couples? Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God" (Eph. 4:31; 2 Cor. 2: 10,11; Matt.5: 23, 24; 18: 21,22; Mic.7:18, 19; Matt.5:9).
Vitamin G: Gentleness
The Bible says, "Let your gentleness be known to all men." Gentleness should manifest in oneís relationship with oneís spouse. Usually we are rather compelled to be gentle with our neighbours, colleagues and strangers. How is my tone when I speak with my spouse? Is my gentleness known to my spouse? The Bible says, "A gentle answer quiets anger." "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body" (Phil.4:5 NKJV; Pro.15:1 GNB;Pro.16:24 ESV).
Vitamin J: Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ should be at the centre of your life and your family as He alone is the source of the love, peace and joy you are longing for. It takes three to make a healthy marriage-you, your spouse and Christ Jesus. The Bible says, "A threefold cord is not quickly broken." No spouse can fully satisfy oneís inner longings and cravings for love and acceptance. One major cause for marital problems is expecting the spouse to meet all the demands and needs.
Dear reader, Jesus Christ alone, and not your spouse, is able to understand you perfectly, meet all your needs and satisfy your longings. He should be the Lord of your motives, attitudes and desires. When He is the Lord in your personal life and family, worry turns into peace, bitterness is transformed into love and misunderstanding into harmony. Beware that your spouse doesnít become an Ďidol.í Jesus says, "Without Me you can do nothing" (Eccl.4:12;Jn.15:5).
Vitamin L: Love One Another
"Many waters cannot quench the flame of love, neither can the floods drown it." A marriage founded on eros love, which is selfish and fleshy, will collapse like a house founded on sand, but a marriage founded on agape love, which is sacrificial and godly, can never be shaken by any person or circumstance.
Are you willing to love your spouse irrespective of your feelings or his/her beauty? Feelings come out of love and sacrifice. It is a good habit to test your love for one another by reading and meditating 1 Corinthians 13 together, once a month (SofS.8:7).
Vitamin R: Run Away From Sins
Run away from sins such as the love of money, adultery and the idolatry of covetousness which easily ensnares us. The Bible says, "the love of money is the root of all evil. Contentment with godliness is great gain." Many families are disintegrated because of greed, living beyond their means, borrowing money for luxurious living, etc. Nowadays adultery is called as Ďextra-marital affairí! Now a Christian is also vulnerable to committing adultery through Internet. Greed, consumerism, pornography, and flirtation are more dangerous than HIV. An AIDS patient can enter into heaven by the sanctification of the blood of Jesus Christ, but a backslidden Christian is in a pathetic situation.
Vitamin S: Shine For Jesus
Your healthy married life will surely be a beacon of light and hope in this world of darkness and hopelessness. Your family prayers with songs of praises to the Living God will surely make an impact in your neighbourhood. Like Aquilla and Priscilla, help many souls to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and be supportive to the spread of the Gospel.
Dear couples, have you ever shared the Gospel with your neighbours? You can regularly pray with other Christian couples for the needs of other families, our nation and for the persecuted Christians. You can also open your home to conduct small group Bible studies, Sunday class and Teens club. Give generously to the poor and aged (Matt.5:14,16;Heb.13:2,16).
Vitamin T1: Trust One Another
If there is lack of trust, the marriage will not last long. Even if you hide your mistrust, you can never enjoy your married life. Doubting your spouseís fidelity without genuine reason will be a thorn in your heart and worse than cancer. It is always safe for a spouse to behave with the opposite sex without causing any doubt to his/her spouse. The virtuous woman, portrayed in Proverbs 31, does good to her husband and not evil all the days of her life and he also trusts her even though she deals with many businessmen.
Vitamin T2: Togetherness
Spouses should grow together in the Lord. They should be instruments for building up one anotherís spiritual and personal welfare. Stop living a self-centred life and seek to help fulfil the purposes of God in your spouseís life. If your spouse is tempted or has committed any sin against God, you have to warn/correct him/her with all gentleness, compassion and wisdom. You need not agree with your spouse in matters which are against Godís commandments, such as aborting your child. If Sapphira had warned her husband Ananias, he would not have committed the sin of hypocrisy and they would have escaped Godís wrath. "Any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin." Face problems with the strength of your spouse and God. Encourage your spouse whenever he/she is depressed and discouraged. Lift him/her up! Kindle the talents of your spouse so as to use them for Godís glory. Let your spouse be your prayer partner. A praying-together couple is a very powerful partner in Godís kingdom. Take important decisions in consultation with your spouse. It is good not to leave your spouse to go overseas, to earn more money (Acts 5:1-10; Jas. 4:17; 5:20; Gal. 6:1; Eccl. 4:9-12; Matt. 18:18-20; 1Cor. 7:5,6).
Vitamin V: Value Your Spouse
Value Your Spouse more than anything else. He/She is more valuable than a clean home or earthly possessions. The carpet can be cleaned or broken glassware can be replaced, but bruised relationships are not easily restored. Your spouse should be more valuable than your career, friends, and even your ministry. Know that your spouse is Godís gift for you. "A virtuous woman is far more precious than jewels, and her value is far above rubies or pearls" (Pro.31:10 Amp).
Vitamin W: Wisdom
The Bible says, "Homes are built on the foundation of wisdom and understanding." "Wisdom brings success." The apostle Peter exhorts the husbands "to live with their wives wisely and honour them; otherwise, their prayers will be hindered." A cordial relationship with your spouse is a requisite to have a cordial relationship with your Lord. So, one needs wisdom to understand the temperaments, longings, struggles and emotional needs of his/her spouse. We have to ask God and "He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him" (Pro. 24:3 GNB; Eccl. 10:10; 1Pet. 3:7; Jas.1:5).
Let me quote Selwyn Hughes. "Sexual desire is divine in origin and comes to us as a powerful instinct. If you put sex first, it will corrupt your whole life. If you put Jesus first, He will co-ordinate your whole life. Sex then will be your servant, not your master. The law of sex life is this: He that saves his sex life-puts it first-shall lose his life. You can expel one desire only by a higher desire, one passion by a stronger passion. Let the love of Christ, therefore, be the love that consumes all lesser loves. All the prohibitions against the use of wrong sexual desire will not save you unless the love of Christ is at the centre. Those who are single or bereft of the spouse need not despair because of their sexual desires. Let God lead you into new areas of creative activity that will benefit His kingdom." Some Christian writers/preachers present sex as the most important ingredient in oneís married life. Of course, sex with oneís own spouse is sacred, safe and enjoyable, but sex is not everything. Due to some sickness or weakness, your spouse may not be able to satisfy your sexual desire. Donít think that your life is doomed. It is not an excuse to be unfaithful to your spouse. Self-control is the solution (Gal.5:22,23).
Human history which began with a marriage in the Garden of Eden is going to end with a marriage feast. In the mean time, let the love and union of one man and one woman for life prepare many people to become part of the Bride-the Body of Christ Jesus.