Saturday, July 21, 2007

Leave and cleave...

For most of my life I've heard the phrase "marriage requires a lot of hard work", or "marriage isn't easy - it requires lots and lots of work". Quite frankly, I'm surprised that I ever got married given those types of descriptions! To be honest, the prospect of marriage scared the living daylights out of me. I grew up in a "broken home" (although we didn't call it that back then). My dad left when I was rather young - that was likely for the best. Before he left us he was an out-of-control drinker who had an out-of-control temper once alcohol was introduced into his system. He and my mother fought constantly - both verbally and physically. Needless to say, I didn't see a lot of good things come out of a marriage when I looked at the home in which I was growing up. So with that as my "training", I entered the married scene about 10 years ago...

When my wife and I met, it wasn't under the best of circumstances. In a weird way, we were good influences on one another, although we were both caught up in drinking, partying, drugs and the like during that time. We got married even though we knew precious little about love. We should have been on our way to being another casualty, but the Lord intervened in our lives. Now, I give all that as some background, but it's not the thrust of what I want to say in this article.

In Genesis (and again in Matthew and Mark) we are introduced to the phrase "a man will leave his mother and father, and cleave to his wife". This word cleave really gives the idea that there is some work involved. The man is to stick to her, cling to her, love her, cherish her... I love the way that Genesis 2:24 ends "...and they shall be one flesh". So this idea of "cleaving" to the wife, gives the idea of coming into one mind and flesh - becoming completely united towards a common goal. I guess that sounds like a bit of work, particularly when you throw in the fact that it's virtually impossible to find two human beings who will agree on everything all the time!

I'm very thankful that I married the woman I married. We've made each other laugh nearly every day of our marriage, and we've never had a "fight" (although we don't always agree with one another). For us, the "hard part" about marriage hasn't really been that hard. When I read and hear the stats about how often marriages fail, I grow increasingly grateful for my marriage. While I'm certainly no expert on marriage (10 years is still in the honeymoon phase, I suppose), I think I've learned a couple of secrets to making a marriage successful.
  1. The Lord should be at the forefront of the marriage. Although my wife and I didn't learn this until several years into our marriage, it's a timeless truth that goes a long way to keeping a marriage "right".
  2. There is no place for selfishness in a marriage. When it comes right down to it, the reason every marriage that has ever failed has failed is because of selfishness - from one or both partners. That selfishness may manifest itself in the areas of finances, infidelity, time, or any number of other things, but the fact is that every failed marriage is the result of one or both marriage partners putting their selfish desires ahead of the needs of their spouse.
  3. The husband and wife compose the core family unit. Too often, marriages begin falling apart once kids are introduced into the mix. Why? Well, the focus begins to be on the kids rather than the spouse. A family is as strong (and as weak) as the marriage that provides the core to that family. If the husband and/or wife begin to put all their energies into the children to the neglect of the spouse, they've started down a dangerous path.

I hesitate to say much more than this. As a man who has only been married for 10 years, I'm still a relative newcomer to the world of marriage. Besides, my wife just called me to come eat supper....

No comments: