One of the most precious gifts we have is the gift of marriage. God designed marriage as a way for man and woman to become one. Man, in the image of God as a mighty warrior and protector. Woman, in the image of God as a nurturer, caregiver, and with great compassion. The two becoming one are able to demonstrate the various attributes of a loving and mighty God. Sounds quite beautiful, and can be, but just as the merging of two companies is hard work as they blend together and figure out what works, the blending of two lives is also work and takes devotion and time. My friend has been a chaplain for over 13 years, a pastor for over 20 years, and has officiated possibly 200 weddings. I often hear him talk about covenant marriage. I asked him to tell me more about what it means to have a covenant marriage.
Chaplain Kohn states total commitment is the building block and vital to a covenant marriage. He states, the idea that marriage is a 50/50 situation is a myth. Chaplain Kohn counsels the couples he marries to understand they need to each give 100 %. He references Ephesians 5:31-33 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” The idea is not that one spouse is better or lording over the other, but each striving to give. The wife honoring the husband because of the love and servitude he has demonstrated to her. She follows by his example of love to her. Chaplain Kohn states this type of biblical marriage brings the fullness of their individual gifts and gifts as a couple.
I asked Chaplain Kohn to help us with the differences of the individual, and what to do when marriage isn’t flowing as one hopes and becomes messy. He states that couples must understand they will continually be getting to know one another and the key is communication. Messy marriage is normal! Talking at an in-depth level with the one speaking having the courage to share their true heart, and the listener being willing to listen for understanding the heart of their spouse. He gave a great example from his own marriage that sometimes the husband will be tired and out of words for the day, but the wife has something she really wants to talk about and pushes to discuss it. He states it is not unusual for the man to get agitated in these situations and bite instead of inviting mutual understanding. He states the thing to do if this happens is to apologize specifically for the irritated response and simply say “Tell me about it.” This goes for the wife also, as she should apologize specifically when needed. Those four words “tell me about it” can make a complete difference in your relationship. It creates a safe place of sharing and communicates to the one needing to talk that the other wants to listen and cares. It’s not about fixing or telling them what they did to deserve it, or did wrong in the situation, but allowing your spouse to share their heart. His statement reminds me of the acronym T.A.L.K. = Tell me about it, Ask questions to clarify and understand, Love by validating their emotions, Kindness always counts, show them kindness, regardless of who is at fault.
I heard a pastor say once, “Marriage should be viewed as a ministry where both spouses are in the relationship to serve one another.” I read on a FB post that many people get married believing marriage is a beautiful box full of things they have longed for: friendship, intimacy, romance, etc. The truth though is that the beginning of marriage is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take something out. There is no automatic love in marriage. Love is in people, therefore people have to choose to put the love in their box. There is no automatic romance in marriage, but again you must choose to infiltrate your marriage with romance. Couples must learn that marriage is an art to continually work on and blending of lives. Form habits of giving, serving, loving, praising, listening, compassion and keep the box full of these positive Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Remember, if you take out more than you put in the box, the box will quickly become empty.
May your marriage blossom and grow in 2019!
Chaplain Kim Crawford-Meeks