I have often heard older couples say to younger couples that they don’t fight in-fact Ola and I had a couple tell us that once. When I hear that these days, I feel like saying stop lying or I pray for that marriage because it is a time-bomb that is waiting to explode. In 1 Corinthians 7: 28 Apostle Paul said “those who marry will have problems”.
The issue with marriage is not if we are going to have problem but when we have problem. Everybody in marriage is dealing with one problem or another, Yoruba people call it “Agbelebu” (each person’s cross), it could be a wife who doesn’t know how to talk to the husband or cook, or it could be a husband who lies as a way of life.
I remember a husband who deliberately committed adultery and came to tell the wife, so she can file for divorce (he did not want to file). Another woman lied purposely about her husband to his superiors to get his attention because he wasn’t talking to her. In these cases and many that happen every day all over the world in many homes, we are commanded to forgive. Jesus repeatedly said we should forgive, he even said our father in heaven would not receive our offering if we don’t forgive. Jesus told the parable of a king who forgave one of his subjects of $1 million; while this same subject had another person thrown in jail for $100 (Matthew 18:21-35, money conversion is mine). When the king heard that this guy threw someone else in jail for such a minuscule amount, he was mad and had the guy himself thrown in jail. The lesson here is that, we have been forgiven much and we should forgive much as well.
Jesus knew that as husband and wife, we will get on each other’s nerve that is why he said forgive 70 x 7 times in a day. Forgiveness is not for the person that offends you; it is for you not to carry unnecessary burden on yourself that could lead to depression, emotional burden or physical harm.
2. LISTEN more than you talk
Someone once said God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we can listen more than we talk. This is so true if we want to have a good marriage.
John is a Vietnamese vet, macho guy that wants to do something for everybody. He also loves his wife dearly and wants to do things for her as well. There is however one problem. He is solving the problem that his wife Mary has not asked him to solve. As men, with our analytic minds, we are wired to solve problems (sometimes we look for problems); I remember doing that repeatedly to Ola, until she told me. “Femi, until I ask please don’t tell me what to do. I’m only telling you because I need to get it out of my system and not necessarily because I need an advise, if I need one, I promise I’ll ask” I have had the privilege of repeating her words to her.
Wanting to solve our spouses problem(s) is not a sin, in-fact the support is needed in a relationship, but when we talk more than we hear or more than the person giving us the information, then there is bound to be miss-information.
So my dear friends, learn to listen to the person talking, and only reply if an opinion is needed from you. If you are itching to give your advice, you can ask your spouse if it’s okay to share how you feel but don’t expect it to be what he/she does, remember it’s an advice.
James 1:19,20 “So then,my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
3. SPIRITUAL INTIMACY
Every human being is a tripartite being, first a spirit being which is the core and the real man, secondly man has possession of a soul. The soul is the realm of the intellect, the emotions and willpower, and we live in a body to exist upon this planet. Your flesh is not the real you, and when that part of you wears out or dies, your spirit lives on. Because the spirit man is the real man, it needs to be fed primarily, rather than the soulish man (will, mind and emotion). We feed our spirit man through intimacy with God and His Word (Matthew 4:4).
A lot of things are done in the spirit realm before the physical manifestation. In Daniel 10, we read about how God answered Daniels prayer but the answer was hindered by the “prince of Persia” a demonic spirit in the heavenly realm and how, angel Michael had to come and release the angel taking the message across to Daniel.
The importance of prayer is also been tested scientifically. I’ve read many articles about the fact that patients with strong faith heal faster than patients without. Some time ago, a documentary on the television showed a scientist with about 10 pots of flowers; he gave each flower the same amount of water. However, he prayed on five of them and did not pray on the other five (I don’t know if he is a Christian or not). At the end of the study, the flowers with prayers did a lot better than the ones without prayer. In ministry, I can tell when I visit a church, if my visit has been preceded by prayers. When I rely on my own knowledge and gift of communication rather than the Holy Spirit when speaking, it is evident as well. In either case God is always glorified.
Having shared the importance of prayer in other areas of life, we know that it is also extremely important in a complex relationship like marriage. Remember the old saying “the family that prays together stays together”, it is true. Make the time to pray together every day, even if it is on your bed before you get up.
Let me say that as men, the leadership of the home spiritually fall squarely on our shoulders, and we can’t give the excuse that she won’t pray with me, you start and see if she would say, Amen. I also know that having iniquity or unforgiveness in your heart to your wife (Malachi 2: 13-15, 1 Peter 3: 7) will hinder your prayer.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fearwhen heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
I have met a particular couple for over a year, at one of our sessions (realizing the man’s love language). I told the woman that for the next week she is to look for the good qualities of her husband (we all know his bad qualities) and emphasize his good qualities, the bad things he did were to be discussed at our next meeting. She called me a week later and said, I can’t do it, and I don’t see anything good in him. I later referred this marriage for professional counseling and the situation remains the same.
As humans we all want to be appreciated and no one wants to be reminded of the bad things they’ve done. One of the toughest thing to do as human being is to accept correction. Some of my readers have suggested things and corrected me (some grammatically) and many have written me on how the articles have blessed their marriage. Humanly speaking, I prefer the appreciations (However, I know it is the corrections and suggestions that make the next article better). Appreciation rather than constant condemnation makes the other person want to do more. When speaking, I often get carried away when people respond positively to what I’m saying and often affect the time I have to share all I want to say.
Make a habit of telling your husband/wife something you appreciate about them daily, and learn to share the hard truth about them in love.
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. “
5. Supporting each other
In my marriage and some marriages that I have seen that there is a time when the man seems to be at a cross-road and needs the wife’s emotional support and encouragement, or when the wife is at a cross-road as well and needs the husband’s support.
It is very important that the husband and wife are not in depression together or else that house would go down fast. The economy in America had been in the doldrums in the past couple of years and I know many men (of all races) that got affected especially those who retrained in the IT industry and had to be laid off for many years. Those who survived and how they survived depends on the support of their partner.
Resigning to go into full time ministry was easy because I knew it was God (and evidence has since followed), but on the other hand it was not easy. I remember when I wrote our family members about my decision (mine and Ola’s) I was not crying but weeping. I had never in my life been in a situation when I depended on people, I was a proud self achieving young man. What I remember about that day was my wife sitting beside me and encouraging me. Even now, almost five years into that decision, I still talk as if ministry is not a job (even when I put in 18 hour days, counseling on the phone and in the church office and writing), she constantly reminds me of what God has done in five years, the opportunity God has opened for me in bringing the diverse churches of our city together. Her encouragements make me feel good. Last year when she transitioned to opening her own clinic from working with a group, my daily encouragements and actions in getting things going meant a lot to her.
We need each other, especially when nobody else believes in us. I have often told men this and I practice it. I will never undermine my wife in public; no matter how much I disagree with what she is saying (we will always discuss the issue when we are alone). When you disrespect each other in public, you are given other people the permission to do the same to your spouse. It is okay to disagree with your spouse, all I’m saying is do it in the privacy of your car or your room, if I disagree with Ola in public, I keep quiet, to be addressed later.
More than anyone else, the support given by one’s spouse is very essential.
I hope each one of us can put the above principles into practice in our home. Remember Prophet Samuel’s word to King Saul “Obedience is better than sacrifice”.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.