[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
Most marriages today — even Christian marriages — reflect much of what we see in the media. Because we allow the seeds of disrespect — non submission, unfaithfulness and anger — that we see on films and dramas to take root in our hearts these seeds soon yield a harvest of harsh words, unkindness and a lack of joy and laughter in our homes.
Galatians 5 verse 22 – 26 states: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
When we spend time with Him we radiate love, joy, peace and all the fruits that are listed in this passage of scripture. I have found that even when I am weak — even when situations are challenging — I can still be full of joy because my trust is in the Lord. Conflict, harshness, fights and lack of joy do not just come in our homes. We allow them in through our choices, our thoughts and our actions. Here are some of the things that you should be aware of if you want to have homes full of joy:
- Choose your Battles: Life is full of ups and downs. There are many things that happen in a day — some good and some that have the potential to irritate us. How we view what happens largely depends on us. There are life changing events that require us to act. They change not only the day but change our lives — the death of a loved one, facing debt, failure in a venture that you were pursuing, miscarriage, repossession, retrenchment. Most things that cause couples to fight though are things that if they really looked at why they were/are angry they would laugh at them. Choose your battles. You do not have to be angry and irritated over everything that happens. Make laughter your friend. It is good medicine for your heart. No one wants to live in a home that is full of constant arguments.
- Do not seek perfection but cleanliness. If you are a parent of young children you will know the mess they can make. You will lose your peace and joy when you are in a continuous state of drill sergeant every time you see their toys and clothes on the floor. I understand the need for cleanliness. I am a mother myself. We need to find a balance between keeping a clean house and the reality that we are parents to young kids. I have found what works with my family is having time dedicated to tidying up our space.
- Forgive quickly and do not dig up the past. Unforgiveness imprisons the person who refuses to forgive –not the one who has done the wrong. Keep the main thing the main thing. If you are arguing and fighting about today’s wrongdoing, do not start counting what someone did a year or 10 years ago. You are not building when you do. Make “I am sorry” part of your vocabulary.
- Do not keep a record of wrongs. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. People are human and they will mess up sometimes. Understand that it is part of life. No one is perfect including you and me. We seem to have these two sets of rules. One is for everyone else and another is for us. We expect everyone else to not make any mistakes when even we cannot live up to our high standards. We need God each and every day because without Him we cannot do anything.
- Be faithful in the little. When you have said you will do something do it. Be trustworthy. Love is in the little things. Love is in the details. Your spouse and children must rely on you and know that when mom/dad says s/he will take care of it s/he will.
- Live a life of integrity outside the home. When we step outside our homes we are representing Christ and we are representing our spouses and families. Let us live a life that brings honour to our family’s name and to our spouses.
- Have a meal together. In the olden days families used to eat together at meal time. Now with social media, television and busyness that has overtaken this generation, more and more family members find themselves eating alone either in their room watching their own television, or somewhere in the house strring at their laptop or playing on their phones. Let us go back to prioritising eating together at meal times — ideally with the TV off. It might not be practical to have this every night but try to make it at least once or twice a week as a start. This encourages communication in the family as members use this time to find out about each other’s day, share some light moments that fill the home with laughter.
- Communicate your needs don’t assume. Do not assume the worst about your spouse. The Bible warns us that the enemy is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour — he is always on the lookout for who he will kill, steal from and destroy. Do not let the enemy destroy your marriage by believing negative things about your spouse. Many marriages have been destroyed because of gossip. A friend comes to tell you that they saw your spouse out with a member of the opposite sex and you immediately assume the worst. Communicate with your spouse about what was said in a respectful manner and not an accusatory tone. When you want something done at home, do not assume that your spouse knows. Discuss it so you both have an understanding and are on the same page.
- Listen to music together. One of my most special times is when I am dancing with my children. We put on some praise and worship songs and just dance together singing to the Lord. Sometimes they will join me in the kitchen as I am cooking and singing and we end up dancing in the kitchen. In Ecclesiastes 3:4 the Bible says “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”
- Play together. Take out your favourite game and make memories together. If one knows the game s/he can use the time to teach the other members of the family. I have precious memories of my kids teaching me how to play chess. Even my six year old knows how to play. It brings loads of laughter as they see their mother trying to navigate her way through the chess board. Have fun together and don’t take life too seriously.
Some days are dark but the word of God encourages us to view everyday as a gift from the Lord. Purpose today to have days full of joy that are focused in Christ. Rejoice and be glad in the Lord and let that joy extend to your home. Philippians 4:4, says Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.