Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
- Genesis 2:24
It’s Christmas time, the time of the year we labour much and are heavy laden with all sorts of jobs and roles. The rush of Christmas produces a range of pressures — trying to get work completed for customers, getting invited to all sorts of events as people realise they haven’t seen us for so long, working out holidays versus money, and juggling the credit card limit with the types of presents we can buy. It also places a lot of pressure on our savings, and on our marriages.
If you have ever watched two pigeons flying about you learn a lot about marriage; even if they are the grey feral type. When one pigeon flies, the other one is never far away. When they land at their next perching place, whether it's a wire or a roof spouting edge, or the top of a roof or tree branch, they perch together. Within that preferred accompaniment is contained a wealth of marital understanding.
When we marry, the Lord says, we become one flesh. Now, we all know what one part of that means, but the other part tells us that we are to grow together not apart. Unlike humans, pigeons don't look for recreations that eventually draw them apart. They just don't seem interested. They are content with their partnership.
We understand that both husbands and wives need time with their own kind, but that was never meant to be an increasing part of the week. I recall when I was in my twenties, and mates were getting married. Some were still trying to live a single-man lifestyle, which we who weren't married thought was quite abnormal.
Did you know that the first working day of the new year is colloquially called Divorce Day?
Generally considered the 8th January (or thereabouts) – the day the holidays' end — there is a 30% spike in divorce applications and counselling.
A survey of more than 2000 married adults found that financial pressures were blamed in 37% of cases, with cheating close behind at 27%.
Money is pressure all through marriage and presents many arguments for various reasons. One partner might consistently spend too much, while the other might be too mean. Money is discussed in the early days of the marriage when savings plans get designed, it is argued about when wedding presents and other gifts are purchased, the price of petrol is considered when we buy cars, the grocery bill always looks too high, as do the quarterly rates notices.
Money, when not controlled, puts undue pressure on God's marvellous union for humanity.
When money is blamed for 37% of marriage breakdowns, I don't think that is the root cause. Money can't do anything in itself. The root cause might be what those couples did with the money they had, and how heavily indebted they designed their life.
When we put budgetary controls in place, the same as we might put cheating controls in place, what we earn makes little difference, what we spend makes all the difference.
One of the fruit of the spirit is temperance or self-control. If we put that in place early in our marriage, we will have sufficient money for a Godly lifestyle.
It is when we seek to have expensive cars, houses, holidays and clothes, and live above our current means, that puts pressure on the marriage. God doesn't want that pressure, although a good marriage can stand a lot of pressure, providing faithfulness underpins it.
Sometimes, to get ahead, we need to work extra hours or at two jobs for an agreed time or commence a business, and they all place pressure on the marriage. There has to be the understanding that the preservation of the union is the most critical objective.
When my grandfather signed up for WW1, he got paid for his time. He left Grandma and four kids on the farm. He thought he would only be absent for about six months, however he was shot and taken prisoner, and spent three and a half years abroad in a prisoner-of-war camp.
Many marriages suffer during wars, and suffer after them due to the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). My Grandfather's marriage lasted, and he came home to a loving family, but, despite getting paid for his service, I am certain it could have done without the separation.
Hebrews 13:4 says, "marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." God decreed marriage as honourable, with the bed being undefiled so long as the couple remained within the boundaries of that bed and the intentions of God’s wholesomeness. When we let our attractions grow wider than the bed, we find trouble comes. When that happens, nothing ends well.
To overcome these two great marital pressures of money and cheating, we can make sure we stay content and keep our eyes and desires inside the fence.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the union of marriage and the blessing it brings. Please help me to consider its value first when I have decisions to make that might affect it.