Bewildered brides. Gloomy grooms. Panicky parents. Cynical clergymen. Will this marriage really last? Or will it dissolve into devastating divorce? God has given us three biblical principles from Genesis to ensure success.
My husband Roger has performed 400 weddings and has forgotten four (oops!) One balmy Saturday evening, my hubby was glued to the tube watching the Muppets Take Manhattan and scarfing a chicken pot pie in his underwear. The phone rang, and a frantic bride screeched “Roger, where are you? The wedding is supposed to start in ten minutes!!!” We lived at least twenty minutes away and my Roger threw on his tux and roared out of the driveway. Most weddings do not start on time. Normally, I can noodle an organ prelude to buy the bride a few extra minutes to primp, but this nuptial was unique. The family had staged the stunning service in the rugged desert behind their home. Sunset had come and gone and the bride stumble down the gravel path in the dark with her father on her arm. The groom and the attendants squinted to see the lovely pair when Dad stumbled into a prickly pair cactus. The next half hour was spent “tweezering” thorny spines out of Daddy’s backside. Needless to say, there were no pictures and certainly no hefty honorarium.
Oh, the wedding disasters we have witnessed! One lovely bride couldn’t stop puking. Finally, Roger exclaimed, “Just say ‘I do” and I’ll get ‘er done.” He hastily pronounced the couple man and wife. They dispensed with the kissing part. One disastrous evening, Roger leaned over the unity candle to serve communion and his robe caught fire. Another wedding disaster occurred when the buxom bride sauntered down the aisle in a seductive strapless gown. Her two breasts were tattooed “Karen” and “Louise.” Roger giggled uncontrollably through the vows. The wedding coordinator wisely drafted a dress code after the debacle.
Did you have a wedding day disaster? No biggie. The real test is how the marriage is going months and years later. Did your vows stick?
One verse can change your wedding and your new life together. God said in Genesis 2:24:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” KJV
God’s succinct three steps to marital bliss and longevity: we are to leave our parents, cleave to our spouse and become one flesh.
LEAVE + CLEAVE = ONE FLESH
What does leaving Mom and Dad look like?
· Grieve the loss of unmet needs.
· Come to terms with unrealistic expectations.
· Mourn and comfort past hurts.
1. Unmet needs.
Grieve the loss of unmet needs from your growing up years. Every child needs attention, affection, appreciation, acceptance, security and respect (among others). If you or your spouse did NOT receive these gifts, then your “emotional cup” is filled with unresolved hurt. You can’t give your loved one what you haven’t received! If you were not accepted, you may be rejecting and judgmental of your spouse. So that hurt needs to be identified, processed and comforted with your partner.
2. Unrealistic expectations.
Every family has its own way of doing life. For example, my husband’s Mom expressed her anger by loud volcanic eruption. Mom got mad, exploded (loud enough for the neighbors to hear) and then her ire subsided.
My mother NEVER expressed her anger or hurt in front of my sister and me. She hid in the bathroom or closet to cry if she and Daddy exchanged harsh words.
Can you imagine the atmosphere in our home when we tried to resolve conflict? We vacillated between shouting matches and crying jags. (Oh, and by the way, since we were a pastor-family, we weren’t supposed to disagree about anything!!!) NOT.
Leaving Mom and Dad means leaving behind our own expectations of what marriage looks like and forging a life together.
3. Unresolved hurts from the past.
Our worst fight in early marriage was over white bread. Our unborn baby was not growing, so my doc instructed me to eat 6 pieces of white bread and come to her office for a glucose tolerance test. I was health-conscious, so I ate six pieces of multi-grain bread because it was better for the baby. When Roger heard what I had done, he freaked out. “Don’t you know the sugar content of white and wheat bread are different???” he screamed. “You are jeopardizing the life of our baby.
OK. So I ate the wrong bread. I’ll take the test tomorrow. But Roger was livid. What I didn’t realize is that his childhood was filled with life-threatening illnesses. When one struggles with health in early life, it’s a trigger for a deep emotional response later in life. Watch out for emotional mine fields. Find triggers from past hurts and heal them by comforting your spouse.
Leave hurts, expectations and unmet needs from the past. Cleave to your mate. Let them learn to identify your “soft spots” and scars.
Become one flesh by allowing God to unite your hearts and build your family.
Look down that aisle. Forge a future God’s way. It’s a match made in heaven!
Material taken from Dr. David and Teresa Ferguson, Intimate Encounters. Austin Texas: Intimacy Press, 1997, pp.126-142.
Great Commandment Ministries Used by permission.