The first commandment given by God with a promise is that we should honour our parents so that our days may be long, regardless of what kind of parent one may have had. They may not have been the best or may have failed woefully in their responsibilities; the bible still commands that we honour them. This can be a difficult pill to swallow in our society today where some kids hardly know their parents and some are born in dysfunctional families. It would take the grace of God to heal scars and wounds inflicted on children in such situations.
Apart from biological parents, a individual can look up to responsible adults, relatives or friends for guidance and direction. These individuals can stand in as the spiritual parents, god parents or mentors. This bond that exist between parent and child can be strong especially in a close knit and loving Home. Thus, in whatever situation you may find yourself, the crux of the matter is that you should have someone to look up to. The bible enjoins the older women to teach the younger ones how to build their homes. Their wisdom, knowledge and experiences become relevant during pregnancy, child birth and the days that follow especially if it is their first time. In some cultures, it is the responsibility of mothers to ensure that the young wife knows what she needs to know before, during and after childbirth.
In marriage, the young couple inherit each others parents. So we can say that a double portion of God’s blessing can be achieved if both sets of parents are honoured and revered. Also the young couple can tap into the wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom they bring. No two families are the same, so there are bound to be new things to learn, ideas and suggestions to listen to and differences in parenting styles to observe. Especially for the parents that have invested their lives, resources and time in raising their children, it would be their joy to see that their children flourish and blossom in their old age. They earnestly look forward to grand children and great grand children. Sometimes the thought of seeing their grand children is the only thing that keeps them going. This therefore makes relating with parents a sensitive issue especially in marriage.
It’s common to find wives at war with their mother-in-law especially if the husband is an only child or a favourite. In extreme cases, it can be a nightmare having such a mother in-law. While mothers think they are genuinely seeking the best for their sons, they are destroying the sanctity of the marriage and sowing seeds of discords. The same situation can exist with the wife. Caring parents would want to ensure that their daughter gets the best possible in life. But more often that not, their noble and just intentions is usually and intrusion in the privacy of the marriage. What a dilemma! So how do we deal or relate with parents in marriage and yet give them the honour and respect they rightly deserve?
The couple involved need to understand what the bible says about marriage and make it the final authority. It does require a high level of maturity in dealing with issues while abiding by the word. Dealing with parents and family requires total commitments, a united front, one voice and God’s wisdom. Anything short of this would result in chaos, misgivings, hurt and discord in the matrimonial home.
It is written that man should leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife. From then on, his first and primary focus is his nuclear family. From the moment the father of the bride handed over his daughter to the groom, he surrendered his headship over his daughter to the groom. The bride from then on, in most cases, takes the name of her husband and the headship is transferred from the father to the husband. The marriage is between two people, a man and a wife under the Almighty God, period. Everything else is secondary regardless of whatever culture they may come from. That doesn’t mean you’ve gotten rid of your family, you still have your responsibilities to them but now those responsibilities become secondary to the matrimonial home. It does require a mature mind to understand this shift as well as have the will and emotion to deal with the transformation quickly.
What does this mean? It means that from the day you were pronounces husband and wife, your allegiance is to each other. Every decision must be agreed upon by the couple without outside influences or dictates. Of course you may need to listen to the wealth of experiences from family, friends and loved ones, but the decision must be taken by the couple and adhered to. This stance is often a hard pill to swallow by parents, but one that is necessary lest they become outlaws. The need for maturity from the couple in dealing with parents in an honourable and loving way is crucial and very important.
Things to consider doing
- Be united in one voice with your spouse. Agree on what to say and what not to say. Be one.
- Keep family issues in the home. It’s common place for parents, friends and family to want to know what’s going on in your home. Respect the privacy of your home.
- Honour your spouse in the presence of your parents. Go the extra mile to ensure this. If you don’t honour your spouse before them, surely they would disrespect him or her.
- Agree on what information needs to be kept private and respect the decisions taken.
Things to avoid
- Never betray your spouse by bad mouthing him or her to your parents. Cover his or her nakedness even if they are the worse person on earth. Pray for them.
- Always stand by the decision taken with you spouse even if it goes against what your parents views, ideas and beliefs. Your allegiance is first to your spouse at least you married him/her.
- Avoid any confrontation with parent in-laws. While you can be forgiven by your parents when you fall out, the same cannot be guaranteed with in-laws. In a situation when you are not happy with anything, let you spouse deal with it. This is very true for wives and mother in-laws.
- Never compare your wife to your mother or compare husband to your father or ex.
While we may have responsibilities to our parents, siblings and relatives our primary priority is the nuclear home. Even your children should not come between the bond that should exist between the man and his wife, when they grow up, the will all leave to cleave. Allowing anyone or anything to come between this union is synonymous to leaving the back door open for robbers to plunder your home. The earlier this truth is understood the sooner the marriage begin to blossom to bear fruits. The marriage vow says it all.
This is an awesome article and very relevant to me since I just recently married. Pleasing God through submitting to my husband first has become my priority and focus. It has been a process and taken lots of prayer but it is so worth it. I love my family very much however putting things in Godly order and perspective is a must if my marriage will have a fighting chance. This has been challenging at best but making this sacrifice to keep things between me and my husband and making sure our union is tight before anything else will result in many blessings for our immediate family and our extended family as well. We truly stand by this.
i have enjoyed a lot of your articles on relationships. i am surprised that you have not discussed the issue of childlessness in marriage. in the african setting esp, this issue plays a VERY significant role in the success or otherwise of the marriage.
I completely agree. It is very important the way we treat our parents in our relationships. Good advice.