by Dr Allan Meyer, Churches of Christ Minister, Cofounder of Careforce Life Keys in Melbourne.
The actions of husbands and fathers are the key variables for healthy marriages.
“And this you do as well: You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favour at your hand. You ask, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are his. And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth” (Malachi 3:12-15 New RSV).
This last book of the Old Testament could be entitled ‘Things That Break God’s Heart’. Here is one of the issues that breaks God’s heart – miserable marriages. While both the man and the woman in a marriage have the capacity to bring the relationship to tears, in this passage it is at least, in the main, directed to the husband involved. Marriage experts, the Gottmans, would find much in their research-based approach to coaching people toward healthy marriages to make this same appeal to the men of today. In his book ‘The Man’s Guide to Women’ Gottman says:
“Men have the power to make or break a relationship. What men do in a relationship is, by a large margin, the crucial factor that separates a great relationship from a failed one. This does not mean that a woman doesn’t need to do her part, but the data proves that a man’s actions are the KEY variable that determines whether a relationship succeeds or fails, which is ironic, since most relationship books are written for women – heart surgery on the wrong patient.”
Of course it’s not universally true that an unhappy marriage is a husband’s issue. I’m just aware of how often over my 50 years of relationship with Helen that the hurts and tears have come back to me; my heart condition, my emotions and my behaviour. Nearly 50 years ago a 19 year old girl stood beside me at an altar and pinned her future to my character. I have had the power to break her heart and fill her life with tears, or comfort her heart and fill her days with gladness. I’ve learned to take my responsibility seriously, so today I’m still her hero, her lover and her husband.
Two things that have helped me in fulfilling my calling as Helen’s husband are worth sharing.
Firstly, the example of my father. My father loved my mother. He was devoted to her and cherished her openly and relentlessly. I grew up in a home where my mother was honoured by my father’s deep and abiding love. It marked my heart. I can never forget what it has meant to grow up in a stable home where my parent’s marriage was totally secure. Whatever stability I have in my own life and behaviour I owe to them. So when my behaviour is less than the model he showed me I apologise and correct myself. I make a choice to guard Helen’s heart.
Secondly, I fear God. Helen is a treasure. She had options. It didn’t have to be me she spent her youth and best years loving and supporting. I stood in the presence of God and promised him that “forsaking all others and cleaving only unto her …” I would love her till I died. She pinned her future to my promise. One day God will want to talk to me about that promise. My children are treasures also. I know what my father’s example has meant in my life – my children and grand-children deserve no less. One day I shall stand in the presence of God and render an account for the things I have done with my body. I know God’s heart for marriage. I know at least in part what God is looking for from mine: a wife whose life is blessed because of mine, and children who see the blessing of love and faithfulness in their parents lives and repeat it in their own. I fear God. So every day I make choices to honour this precious commitment I made to Helen. In 2018 we will celebrate our 50th anniversary. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that. Marriage is precious to God. Make it precious to you too. Every day.
Dear Father in Heaven, you intended mankind to experience the delight of marriage between a man and a woman. We pray that you help rescue those people in miserable marriages. Help them discover the mystery and the joy of the one flesh experience. Protect marriage from being redefined and help all Australians support marriage between a man and woman in the Postal Survey. In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen
Watch I Will Love You – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZIcLSoubwA
Canberra Declaration Daily Prayer Points for October
- A Miracle for Marriage
- Truth to be Exposed
- A Spirit of Repentance in the Church
- Revival and Transformation in our Nation
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