Keeping Your Family Healthy and Strong
By Dr. Richard D. Dobbins.
The latest statistics indicate that 76 percent of American marriages will end in divorce. Fortunately, first-time manages fare much better than marriages as a whole. Still, we are losing three out of 10 first-time marriages.
Before the Children Come
It takes a couple from 2 to 5 years to learn how to be married, so if you want to keep your family healthy and strong, you must start early, before the children come. No couple is ready to learn how to be parents when they are still learning how to be husband and wife. Until you have made that transition into married life, you really are not ready to be father and mother.
If you have grown up in a home where your mother and father have a good, solid marriage, they have given you good role models and this will make it much easier.
During the early part of their marriage, a couple should be deepening their commitment to each other and increasing their love for each other. Each should be learning ways in which the other wants to be loved and how to meet those love needs. The love they share for the Lord and each other should be greater than the idea of having a child. Then, when they do bring a child into their home, the child will come into a secure marriage and a secure family – secured by the couple’s love for each other and for the Lord.
Keeping a Strong, Healthy Family While Having Children
Very few things in marriage are more stressful than pregnancy. Unless a marriage is already healthy and strong, nothing about pregnancy will help it.
Here are some things a couple can do to keep their marriage strong and healthy during a pregnancy:
•Celebrate the event. This is a time when God overwhelms you with the miracle of life!
•Husbands, be especially sensitive and protective. Help your wife understand that she is beautiful to you during pregnancy as she carries the life produced by your love and God’s love.
•Read the information given you by your obstetrician. This is important for both husband and wife. It will help you understand the stages of pregnancy and the development of your child.
•Take childbirth classes together. When the moment of birth arrives, be ready to share it together. You are never more aware of the awesome miracle of life than when you hold your own newborn baby in your arms.
•After the birth, husbands, lift as much of the infant’s care from your wives as possible. You can bathe the baby, change the diapers, help with feedings.
Loving Your Children, Then Letting Them Go
After the child begins to walk it will not be long before he is playing with the neighbors, then it is preschool, then kindergarten, and then he is on his way into the social world. It will take 18 more years for the process to be completed, but it begins with birth.
Wise parents will understand and direct this process. They also realize that their children do not belong to them. Their children belong to God.
Early in a child’s life, the parents should introduce him to the love of Jesus. The child should be taught to read the Bible and pray every day. This behavior begins with Bible stories read to the children when they are young, and later as parents model reading the Bible and praying.
Also, teaching your children to choose their friends wisely is a very important step in protecting them from destructive relationships and preparing them for a productive life.
If you have loved your children deeply and have disciplined them well, you should be able to let them go when the time comes and cheer them on in life. This is a dual reward – they have their freedom and you as their parents have yours.
Becoming God’s Man for God’s Woman
When a Christian man marries a Christian woman, he should want to become more than just her man. He should want to become God’s man for her. God has sent him into her life and he is to devote himself to her, learning to meet her specific needs.
Let us review the operational definition of “Christian married love” we have used in the past – Christian married love is a persistent effort on the part of two people to create for each other the circumstances in which each can become the person God intended him or her to be, a better person than he or she could become alone. So as a Christian husband, you never stop working on your maniage. You never stop working on trying to understand your wife better, to anticipate and meet her needs.
How do you enable your wife to be the person God wants her to be? First, you define the special needs you know your wife to have. Then, you unselfishly devote yourself to meeting those needs. Also, you determine to put her needs before your needs in the marriage. This is loving your wife as Christ loves the Church (see Ephesians 5:25).
Here are some important personal needs every Christian wife has and how a husband can meet them:
•She needs to feel special to her husband. Help her understand that you believe she is the special person God has sent into your life.
•She has a need for affirmation and support. Encourage your wife to develop her gifts and to become all God knows that she can be. Be her greatest cheerleader!
•She has a need for personal attention. Call her at times when she does not expect you to call her. And be there for her when she needs you to be there.
•She has a need for surprises. Every woman has a need for special surprises. They do not have to be expensive, but something nice when she is not expecting it will endear you to her.
•Most important of all, she has a need for a spiritual leader. Let her see you read the Bible. Let her hear you pray. Put your arm around her when you are worshiping and raise your hand with hers in prayer. Let her see you as the spiritual leader of your family.
Becoming God’s Woman for God’s Man
God sees the potential in your husband’s life and He brought you into his life to encourage the development of that potential. You are not only to be the woman in your husband’s life. You are to be God’s woman for him.
Now no spouse can meet all the needs another spouse has. But God’s woman should devote herself to bringing out the best in her husband. Remember our operational definition of Christian married love? Just as we expect the husband to work to meet the wife’s needs, we expect the wife to work on meeting her husband’s needs. Christian married love is a persistent effort on the part of two people – no one person can love enough to make a marriage work.
This is the “acid test” for every Christian wife: Have you been able to enable your husband to become the person God intended him to be?
Here are some personal needs every husband has and ways a wife can meet them:
•He needs a wife who will indulge his recreational needs and share them with him. Find out what your husband’s hobbies are and venture into them with him.
•He needs a wife who will admire and respect him. Do not put your standards too high for him to meet. Nothing draws a man to a woman like seeing her admiration and respect.
•He needs a wife who will flirt with him and let him know that she finds him physically attractive. Many women do not understand just how important this is to a man. But as you meet this need, it will draw the two of you closer.
•He needs a wife who will initiate physical contact sometimes. Do not require him to always be the initiator.
•He needs a wife who will respond to his spiritual leadership. When you see him read the Bible or hear him pray or worship, let him know how good those things make you feel.
Article “Keeping Your Family Healthy and Strong” excerpted from “Guidelines for Living”. Article written by Dr. Richard Dobbs.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”