We hear a great deal about physical abuse, but what about verbal abuse. The scriptures say that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Verbal abuse destroys respect, trust, admiration, and intimacy – all key ingredients of a healthy marriage. All of us sometimes say harsh cutting words that we later regret. But, if we are mature, we will express sorrow and ask forgiveness.
The verbal abuser, on the other hand, seldom asks for forgiveness. Typically, the abuser will blame the spouse for stimulating the abuse. “She got what she deserved” is the attitude of the abuser. And don’t think it is always men who abuse. Male or female, verbal abuse must not be accepted as appropriate behavior.
Does your marriage seem hopeless? Does Your relationship feel desperate? As a marriage counselor, I find many individuals who have given up on their marriage.
I’m empathetic with their hopelessness. I know that when you do everything you can to stimulate change and nothing changes, it’s easy to lose hope. However, we can, and do change every day: for better or for worse. It’s true, we cannot make our spouse change, but we can influence our spouse. When we lose hope, our influence is negative—we become a part of the problem, rather than a part of the solution. When we refuse to ‘give up’ we become a positive influence, and that positive influence has the strong potential for changing the emotional climate in your marriage.
Do you have children who are getting married? The scriptures say that they are to ‘leave’ you and ‘cleave’ to each other. What are the implications of that for you?
You must make it easy for them to leave. Don’t demand that they call you daily and keep you informed. Give them time and space to start their own lives. If you want to give advice, wait until they ask for it? Or, at least, ask if they would like your opinion. If you want to give them money, ask if it would be helpful. And don’t give your money in such a way that they become dependent upon you. Let them know that you love them and are willing to help, but want only what is best for them. You make it easy for them to honor you when you foster their independence.
If your father-in-law gave you a really good suggestion that would save you much time and make your life much easier, would you accept it? Or, would you reject it simply because it came from your father-in-law? If you follow the biblical example of Moses, you would accept it.
Let’s face it, your parents and in-laws are older than you. It’s possible that with increased age, they have increased wisdom.
Why not take advantage of their wisdom? I don’t mean that you must always do what they advise, but why not give them a good hearing and then consider the merits of their idea. If it looks good to you and your spouse, then go with it, remembering that it is your decision.
“Honor your father and your mother” is one of the ten commandments. It is not rescinded when we get married. We are told to ‘leave’ our parents, but that does not mean that we stop honoring them. Our parents gave us life. We are deeply indebted to them. Even if they were not the best of parents, we would not be here without them.
One way we honor parents is by keeping in touch: by phone, visits, or e-mails. Letting them know that we still love them and want them to be a part of our lives. Failure to communicate with parents is saying in effect, “I no longer care.” Honor means that we speak with kindness and respect. We look for things we can do for them, remembering what they have done for us.
The scriptures say that when we get married we are to ‘leave’ our parents and ‘cleave’ to each other. What does this leaving and cleaving look like in daily life?
It means that we no longer ‘lean’ on our parents, but on each other. It means that we do not allow parents to dominate our lives. We show them respect by listening to their ideas or suggestions, but we make our own decisions. We do not run to them with a list of our spouse’s failures. Parents are not in the best position to be our counselor.
Leaving means that we seek to be financially independent from
our parents as soon as possible. We are grateful for their contribution to our lives, but now we want to make our own way. Leaving means that we build upon the foundation which they have given us.
For better and sometimes for worse, our parents and in-laws are a part of our lives. God designed it that way. We are told to honor our parents so that life will go well for us. We are also instructed to leave our parents when we get married.
This ‘leaving’ means a change of allegiance. We must see ourselves as a new unit after marriage. The husband is committed to his wife and she to him. However, ‘leaving’ does not mean that we abandon our parents. Rather, we are to honor them. The word honor means to show respect. It means treating parents with kindness and dignity. Leaving parents and honoring parents are both biblical commands.
In the midst of hard financial times, one wife said, “What we have discovered is that we can live on a whole lot less than we thought. It has really brought our family closer together. Now that we no longer have cable TV we are pulling out the games we used to play when the children were young. We’re all having great fun and we are building memories.”
This family demonstrates the biblical truth that life’s meaning is not found in possessions, but in relationships. It is my prayer that in the economic hard times we are having, people will turn again to God and to family. Then, with true satisfaction, we will reach out to minister to those who have even less than we. Serving others in the name of Jesus is the role of the Christian.