Over the years I have had many men and women in my office not completely happy with their spouses. They asked for advice on quick fixes, and although I am not a marriage counselor, I could share my 51 years of experience of being happily married to Anita.
Was it a walk in the park? No! It took hard work, lots of prayer and lots of tears. Putting two totally opposite human beings together (Mars and Venus) and expecting things to work smoothly is unrealistic. How boring had we both been the same! Throw on top of that the two of us working together for more than 52 years and you will understand that this brings a whole set of different challenges, because we are both passionate in what we do, and where there is passion there is emotion and where there is emotion, the sparks can sometimes fly – taking the problems from the boardroom to the bedroom. Not good!
This is why the Bible is such a fantastic book. Ephesians 4:26+27
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
It was not always easy to just ‘forgive and forget’ and sometimes more than one sunset happened with us not speaking to each other. Had I continued to nurture the anger I felt at times, there would have been nothing today. Zip, nada, zero. Why? Because that would have led to a disaster. Both Anita and I had to forgive and forget and God used us as a team, and then brought our family into the team, and gave our family a vision and blessed us as we tried to be obedient to His vision and Word, as best as we could.
We also had to have open discussions around every one’s responsibilities, our finances, expectations had to be managed and priorities agreed on. By God’s grace this made our family stronger and brought us closer together.
I think the hardest part was for Anita to submit herself to me as Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:22-24. She is a highly intelligent and strong women and I know to submit to me was not always easy because I am also not a pushover!
All I had to do was to love my wife (Ef 5:25) and boy at times it was difficult…especially after clashing heads like two bulls. And yet, every time I said to the Lord I can’t! He said “you must” and the moment I made the slightest effort to love my wife, His power kicked in behind me and my obedience brought the blessing – forgiveness, peace, harmony, love and understanding.
Understanding that we have different gifts, (also in marriage) according to the grace given to each of us (Romans 12:6) helped me a lot and more often than not Anita reminded me not to think of myself more highly than I ought to, but rather think of myself with a sober judgement. (Rom 12:3)
As she so aptly once reminded me before my book launch in the USA
“Please don’t tell the people how holy you are, because you’re not.” Ouch!
“What if my husband is not a Christian?” some women have asked me in my office. The Bible is clear – you should be his helper, submit to him and the most important of all, respect him, honor him and pray for him. Do not try to covert him – that’s the task of the Holy Spirit. Build him, don’t break him down and don’t underestimate how important sex is in your marriage!
“What if my wife is not a Christian?” some men have asked me. Paul is clear in his teaching (Ephesians 5:25-29) that we should love our wives as part of ourselves. We must be willing to sacrifice everything for her, care for her and look after her well-being.. and God will do the rest.
Spending time with your wife and children is the most important investment we will ever make. Many people asked me whether I played golf, then I said no, I only had Saturday’s free and that was time reserved for my family. (Before the Lord saved me I worked every day from 08:00 to 23:00, 365 days a year for 8 years – ‘for the family’ – and the day God opened my eyes and I read Ps 127 (ERV) my life and my family changed.
“If it is not the Lord who builds a house, the builders are wasting their time…
It is a waste of time to get up early and stay up late, trying to make a living.
The Lord provides for those he loves, even while they are sleeping.”
Over the years when I arrived at the office in the morning, seeing the orders that were faxed through during the night (before the days of electronic media,) the Holy Spirit reminded me that the Lord provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping… and obedience brought the blessing.
May you and your family have a wonderful Christ-centered Christmas and may you and I seek Him, with all our heart, every morning in the days to come. Who knows, our time on earth might be shorter than what we think.