Portraits of a mature Christian: Prioritizing marriage and family

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They had barely been married two years, and their problems landed them in my study for some counseling. They needed some help.

She went first. “Pastor, it just seems that everything and everyone comes before me. When he gets home from work the first thing he does is call his coworkers in order to plan out the next day. Then his buddy calls, and they start making plans without ever consulting me. This is not what I signed up for.”

I asked, “What have you tried?”

She said, “I don’t know what to do, so I usually just call a friend and get out of the house.”

“How is that working for you?” I asked.

“Not very well. I think he likes it when I get away so he doesn’t have to be near me.”

I turned to the husband, “What do you think?”

He said, “I need my down time and my time with my friends. She just has to understand that.”

Uh oh! This couple is headed for real trouble!

Genesis 2:18 kept echoing in my mind: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” When God made Adam, he made him to need someone—a wife. Adam’s suitable helper was not a male buddy, a job, an education, or a hobby. It was a woman who would love him and share life with him. That young wife had a legitimate gripe. We intuitively get married to share our lives to the fullest extent with that one other person. Both husband and wife were made to fulfill each other’s deepest need for human companionship. No one and no thing should ever bump our partner from that sacred throne of suitable helper. When something else does come first, our partner feels isolated, cheated, and alone. Mature Christians recognize this marriage principle.

The very first thing this couple had to hear was God’s Word about marriage. Many Scriptures offer help, but here you will find one from 1 Peter for your meditation.

1 Peter 3:7-9

7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.


1. List the phrases you see in these passages that would guide a husband in the way he treats his wife?

The phrases are: be considerate as you live with your wives, respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate, humble

2. Name five habits of a considerate husband.

1. He looks at his wife when she is talking to him. 2. He tells her his schedule. 3. He does not volunteer her to babysit or to host a guest at her home without asking her first. 4. He opens the door for her. 5. He helps with house work. 6. He tries to understand her unique love language and then speaks to her in that language.

3. List the phrases in the passages that guide the wife above in how to handle her husband?

Verse 8 and 9 speak to both partners so they certainly apply to a wife. In summary, wives need to show respect for their husbands. If they respond to them with insult or sarcasm it will quickly drive him away and make it hard for him to love her the way she needs for him to. Husbands are more fragile than their tough exterior lets on.


1. What compromise can the couple above create in order to suitably help each other?

This husband can make it his aim every day to spend the first hour at home communicating with his wife and catching up after a long day. She has been missing him and needs to have his undivided attention. It is a big part of what she signed up for. On the other hand, she can let him call his buddy after that and let him talk guy with that buddy. His friend will give him good vibes that a woman cannot give. Then she will get a better husband in return. Basically, they need to work out a plan where they both give a little out of love and reap the rewards of a close partnership as they listen and respond.

2. Think of a couple that you know that offers a great example of Christian marriage. Find a way to tell them what you are learning from them.

When we take time to notice and then tell the couple what we see, several things will happen: they will be encouraged to do even better, they will feel that their lives matter more than they did before, you will better get the lesson they model as you articulate it in your own words, you will

be more encouraged to be like them, and you will be closer to them through your admiration of them.

3. Each day choose three things your partner does that make you happy. Tell him or her about them.

Learning to focus on the positives is scriptural (see Philippians 4:8). When we do look for the good it turns the friendship around and helps us feel respect for each other. Positive reinforcement works. As we compliment each other we will feel the ice between us begin to thaw. It takes a while to defrost a relationship, so don’t give up quickly. Practice giving compliments three things daily for 30 days and then you will notice a marked difference in your friendship.

Other helpful passages

1 Corinthians 13

Ephesians 4:25–5:2

Philippians 2:12-18

Colossians 3:12-17

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © July 2010 reprinted with permission.