Early on in our marriage, I used to pack my stuff to go back to Ethiopia for every little conflict I had with Berhan.
You see, we were the first ones to talk about getting married among our friends. We got married and we were all alone. No married people were around to guide or mentor us. Not only from our friends but we were the first ones to get married from our siblings, from his side and my side. Yeah, can you just imagine!
And we were mentally and spiritually immature especially me, yeah, I have to admit that. So, if he didn’t pick up the right grocery item I told him to pick up, I entertained the idea of packing up my luggage to go back to Ethiopia. So, if he is not making me “happy”, why should I stay here? That was the most matured thinking and reasoning I could come up with.
I mean, I love my mom and dad and they love me. After all, they were very scared for sending me to America, knowing my curious nature to try and know everything. They were on their toes when I left. So, if I had gone back, they would have taken me gladly.
Well, now, they are okay when I visit them but if I go back for good, they will call a police on me because they have no clue who I am now. My Berhan knows me more than they do. My mom recently said, “Berhan has to be rewarded with the best award ever for putting up with you”. Keep that in secret!
I’m very thankful that God saw us through those early years of marriage but looking back, I can see how our loneliness would have easily hurt our marriage.
I was in Addis last summer for six weeks. I had a wonderful time with married couples and youngsters. I was involved in many marital counseling and I thought there is one important thing we Christians are missing.
Let me first tell you a story which made me think that way and then I will tell you what that one thing we are missing.
So, during my stay in Addis, one morning, my parents were not home. So, I asked where they went. I was told that they went to the house of one of our relatives.
“This early morning? And today is Sunday. Why did they go there?” I asked.
They told me that one married couple had marital conflict for two or three months and my parents and one other couple were sitting together with them to sort things out to bring back peace and love to the marriage.
Wow, I was very curious to know how it went. So I waited for them to come back and the first thing I asked them was not, “Did they agree to stay together?” Rather, I asked them, “What did you guys say to them?” because they were very happy.
Beloved, “the counselors”, my parents, have been married for 53 years and the other couple (the other counselor pair) has been married for 48 years. These people don’t read marriage books or attend marriage seminars we are privileged to have more than we need. But both couples are full of wisdom and knowledge because marriage is a school you will never graduate from. And these people lived it longer than many people. So when they speak about marriage, they know what they are talking about.
The couple who had marital conflict respects these elderly folks. They revere them.
While they were telling me how it went, I was lost with my own marriage and marriages I see every day.
Well, if you ask me the one thing we Christians are missing today, I will say this: “We miss people to whom we are subject to!”
We fear nobody! We do what we think is right and the rest of the world can cry about it! We have no “spiritual fathers and mothers” to whom we respond. We give nobody authority over our lives and marriages. We give no right to anyone to rebuke us or admonition, criticize or correct us. We think we know it all. We think our future is on our hands.
The above couple didn’t go to their respective parents and siblings because it is known throughout history that those immediate family members can’t be fair and can’t see the issue logically, without being emotional. These two couples (“the counselors”) were chosen from the family to counsel this young couple.
I said to my mom, “Mom, I hope they don’t take this opportunity for granted”, knowing that I didn’t have it early on in my marriage.
The couple has little kids and my parents’ and the other couple’s main agenda was about those little kids. They told them stories after stories how their children could become victims of divorce if they decided to end their marriage. The stories they were telling them can’t be refuted because they were eye witnesses.
Then at the end, they rebuked and admonished them because they loved them; they cared about them, their marriage and kids.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, as married couples, we need to invite people to our marriages; people who are more spiritually and mentally matured than us so that we learn how to do marriage.
Inviting immediate family members to our marriages is like calling for more trouble. If a wife complains about her husband to his mother, his mother may say this and that to her son but at the end, she will have some kind of grudge against the wife. Why? Because “blood is thicker than water”.
I still find it very hard to understand why wives tend to call their husbands’ mothers to complain about about their husbands. Really? I mean he is her son!
Anyways, this is the message: Let’s purposely and consciously find matured married couples and let’s give them authority over our lives and marriages. Let’s say to them something like, “When I become crazy and want to go out of this marriage, please fight for my marriage. I give you all the authority to admonition and rebuke me when I’m not conforming to the Word of God.”
Beloved, this is a spiritual principle Apostle Paul is talking about on his first letter to the Corinth church.
“For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:15
Let’s put people over our marriages so that their father – and – motherhood spirit will guard and protect us. Precious, whoever we are, we can be vulnerable to be taken over by the storm if we separate ourselves and our marriages from others. Let’s put people over our lives and marriages.
If you are single, reading this, make sure you have advisers and counselors in your life. And don’t go to them so that they will “validate” your decision but so that they will help you reach to a decision. Don’t trust your way of thinking especially who to marry or not to marry. You will save your life and the life of someone else. I can’t tell you how many young people I know who said to me, “I wish I talked to someone before I decided to marry this person” or “I wish I listened to the counsel of others before I decided to marry”.
Let me leave you with this Bible verse I love: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 ///