Page Top Marriage in Honor - Dr. He was also editor of Petahja, a monthly publication for the Reformed Men's Societies in the Netherlands. The relationship between husband and wife It has already been pointed out that marriage is more than love. Indeed, it must be fed by love, but in essence it is a communion of life. What true love seeks is realized in marriage. Love becomes "serious" because it concerns the whole of human life.
Marriage consists of a life of work and worry, joy and sorrow, sickness and health; it involves being young and becoming old, dealing with small and big problems, coping with internal and external troubles, and facing individual and social questions, all in loving communication with each other. A great many days, weeks, months, and years are shared. During this long period - should the Lord grant it - the couple lives together in intimacy, which reveals all.
It soon becomes apparent that big things can matter very little while small things can become dreadfully big. Often over an insignificant matter a great quarrel springs up. Marriage can show how any person can be terribly small.
Love has to accept the other person with all his or her peculiarities, weaknesses, and pettiness. Love prepares a home for the other. Marriage and the family provide a resting place, a natural haven from the hectic pace of modem life. No strained or artificial manners are necessary at home; one can be oneself there. There is another side to the coin. The freedom and intimacy of the home will always reveal what kind of persons live there. In it one can not camouflage oneself. Therefore, family relationships must be handled with care.
A marriage must have the inner strength to bear everything. Either the marriage will become more and more frightful because a couple lacks the love to help and sustain each other as they struggle to make a safe haven of their marriage, or the marriage will be nurtured through the love to become a source of happiness and peace. It has already been mentioned that any ideal is strict and cruel, and leads to strained behavior.
True love knows that the other person is not without human frailties. It does not compare the other with an ideal lest one disillusionment after the other come.
Love alone endures all things. Faults and imperfections will be seen in love. One's partner is accepted as given by God for life. It has been pointed out that being married is just as difficult as not being married. Marriage does not solve all problems.
Since the fall there is not a single state in life which is by nature "easy. That is especially true of the allembracing communion of marriage. But since Christ has come, marriage can be solemnized "in the Lord;" He has restored communion with God and thereby with one another. No man or woman is an isolated individual. Husbands and wives have an especially strong influence upon each other. Marriage means that they grow toward each other more and more.
It means being faithful to the new dimension of life as husband and wife. Among other things, newness is two people living in the same space. The couple's home is a center of safety on which they can fall back. The wife makes the home habitable and pleasant, a haven for the husband to come to after a full days work.
The husband brings in what happened to him "outside. The wife listens and discusses things with him. Something is wrong if the wife has no interest in her husband's work. Likewise the husband must listen to his wife when she speaks of the household, the children, problems of upbringing, and household finances, in short, of everything connected with the family. All this happens within the confines of the home.
Good housing conditions are eminently important for the health of the family. In a place where the family cannot be itself because of lack of soundproofing, where they cannot be at peace due to disturbances from neighbors, many things can go wrong. Apartment neurosis is a notorious example of this. Many marriage difficulties arise because houses are too small, because large families cannot afford help, and because mothers are so over-tired that their only hope is to sleep in. Such circumstances force wives to become "drudges" who neglect themselves, dress shoddily and can no longer keep up with their husbands socially.
This can cause irritability in the husband, and as a result, husband and wife drift apart. A man wants to be able to be seen with his wife, for she is his glory.
When after strenuous and exhaustive work, a husband comes home to a wife who complains about her own work and is moody because she cannot manage, who overwhelms him with her complaints, griev. In such a situation the husband might easily look at other women who give a more pleasing impression. He may wonder whether he made the right choice. When he begins to make comparisons, the husband will feel cheated and bitter.
When faithfulness to the "wife of his youth" is sorely tried, then it must become apparent that a husband's love is founded on faithfulness. Then he must continue to accept his wife in all her troubles. Together they asked the Lord for a blessing on their marriage and for the blessing of children. When the difficulties of rearing a family threaten to become too much for the wife, the husband must show himself to be her head and take the initiative in looking for ways and means to change the situation.
This is no small task today. Domestic help is hard to find. Young girls can earn more money elsewhere. However, they need to be reminded that one day they may marry and have a family. They too may face the same problems that many sorely tried mothers face. Perhaps single women and young girls might ask themselves whether or not they could serve here. The husband might also look for technical methods for lightening the task of the housewife, but even with this, all kinds of difficulties are not solved.
It is the spiritual attitude of the husband and wife which is decisive. Some mothers of large and busy families understand the art of making a house pleasant, of receiving their husbands with warm interest instead of complaints; some women know the secret of dressing tastefully and appearing well groomed and fresh; some wives are well informed about their husband's work and life.
Such women are more precious than jewels. Respect for each other must be mutual. With the passing of the years, the husband may not lose his courtesy and attention for his wife. He must hold her in honor and not regard her as domestic help.
His attention shows in things as small as bringing his wife flowers occasionally. A little attention can work wonders. The way in which a husband treats his wife speaks volumes about the climate of their marriage. Husbands who make their wives the target of so-called funny in reality, sarcastic stories in company, violate the marriage. Men who are chivalrous and very courteous to other women but not to their own wives are not only rude but unchristian.
Marriage in honor means that a husband holds his wife in honor - the wife who works her fingers to the bone for him and their children; the wife who in pain and difficulty brought children into the world; the wife who was the love of his youth, and whom he should not, upon becoming older, neglect or push aside. The Lord will punish the husband who no longer holds his wife in honor. When a wife feels that her husband holds her in high esteem, surrounding her with care and attention, she win blossom.
In this way mutual affection will be maintained and strengthened. The flame of love cannot be quenched by the waters of a busy household with its large and small irritations. In contrast, when complaints arise about one's spouse and when reproaches are thrown back and forth, the marriage will threaten to run aground.
The husband, rather than blame his wife, should ask himself: The wife should ask herself. Both must begin with self-examination, not reproof, to correct the situation. In marriage too the words of Scripture are true: Two people who live closely together can hurt each other terribly through words and deeds.
Only self-denying love chooses another, better road. These are the rudiments of marriage. Nothing less will do. In this context a few words must be said about women who become so involved with their children that their husbands are like outsiders. Men are accepted for their breadwinning and that is about all. Such women are the counterpart of men who view their wives only as housekeepers and domestic help.
Both are wrong and in conflict with God's Word. A woman may not occupy herself exclusively with her children. She and her husband have been made "one flesh" and she has been created by God Himself to be a help to her husband.
Certainly people's characters differ; there are motherly types and more wifely types.