Encouragement for Today - Mar. 14, 2011

March 14, 2011

What’s the Big Deal?

Melanie Chitwood

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (AMP)        

When my husband and I were arranging our first home, Scott wanted a TV in our bedroom. According to my set of rules, however, TVs did not belong in bedrooms. Although he didn’t understand why I made a big deal about this situation, Scott graciously went along with my preference.      

As I considered my “rule” about TVs, I realized it stemmed from the way things were when I grew up. We were a family of readers who rarely watched TV, so I expected this to be the case in my marriage. When my sports-loving, sports-watching husband wanted a TV in our bedroom, I just didn’t understand why it was important to him.

As every married couple will discover, we each enter marriage with our own customs and habits stemming from our family of origin. Chances are these are going to result in some differences. As you’re reading this, you might think of some of those differences right now.

One couple I know had a conflict over decorating. He wanted to adorn the living room walls with his prized hunting trophies and sports memorabilia, just like his family did while growing up. His wife was sure a pretty painting or two would add a touch of warmth and elegance.

A few other possible examples come to mind: your family ate in front of the TV; but your husband’s family always ate at the kitchen table. Your family watched football all day on Thanksgiving Day; his family played games. Your family was sentimental and kept every bit of memorabilia; his family was relentless about not letting clutter accumulate. His family didn’t make a big deal about Christmas gifts; your family gave all thirty-five members of the extended family at least one present.

These are just little things. But the little things can add up and become divisive wedges, threatening the oneness God wants a married couple to enjoy. Today’s key verse offers a solution to this potential area of separation. Genesis 2:24 tells us that a married couple will “leave his father and his mother.”

While the more obvious understanding of this verse refers to a physical leaving, it also refers to a shift in habits or customs. 

Once married, our hearts need to shift from our family of origin to our new family. The family we’ve created with our husbands becomes our central relationship. One way to honor this shift in relationships is to embrace new customs, habits and traditions.

What does this look like in everyday life? For me, it meant being open to a TV in our bedroom, along with many other bigger changes, too. The young couple with the decorating conflict found a compromise where their bedroom displays his trophies but the living room is her decorating domain.

God will show you what changes to make and how to do so. At times this will mean adopting our extended family’s customs, and other times it will mean creating completely new traditions to treasure as our own.

Making changes in the way we do things, whether putting a TV in the bedroom or changing how we decorate, is a key way to strengthen our marriage. As we negotiate this shift in traditions, customs and habits, let’s pray we’ll experience unity, not division.

Dear Lord, thank You for my husband and our marriage. Reveal to me anything I need to leave behind, so I can be united to my husband. Help us to find compromises and new traditions to cement us together as a family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Visit Melanie’s blog,where she helps couples develop “Magnetic Marriages”

This devotion is adapted fromWhat a Husband Needs from His Wifeby Melanie Chitwood. Pair it with What a Wife Needs from Her Husbandby Melanie for a dynamic combo!

Generation Next Marriage: The Couple's Guide to Keeping it Together by Tricia Goyer

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Application Steps: 
Take inventory of the “smaller” issues of your married life together. Consider things like family time, date nights, meal time, decorating, time with extended family members and holiday traditions. Take note of where you and your husband need to find a compromise or where you need to create your own customs.

Find a godly balance between your family of origin and your new family. Discuss with your husband ways you can honor your families of origin, while simultaneously establishing your marriage as your central relationship.

Is there anything my husband has wanted, even something small like putting a TV in our bedroom, which I’ve resisted because it’s not in line with the way I grew up?

The issue of leaving and cleaving in marriage is really an issue of the heart. Do I allow the Holy Spirit to examine my heart to reveal areas where I need to let go of old ways?

Power Verses:
Philippians 2:2, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (NAS)

1 Peter 3:8,“Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).” (AMP)

© 2011 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Originally published Monday, 14 March 2011.