Legos, Lincoln Logs and a Legacy
How to Strengthen Your Marriage and Family
January 1, 2004 - In a culture that is increasingly hostile to the God-ordained, traditional marriage of one man and one woman in a covenant relationship for life, it's vital to keep Jesus as the foundation of the home. Here are five building blocks that my wife, Barbara, and I have used to fortify our marriage and family life.
by Dennis Rainey
Never Use the "D" Word
To threaten divorce in the heat of an argument or during a tough time is the quickest way to sabotage a marriage. Marriage should provide security, not foster fear. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear" (NKJV). So we never use the "D" word. It's not an option. Period.
We often use two "C" words, however: "covenant" and "commitment." We put our marriage covenant in writing, signed it as a couple and hung it in our home for our children to see. We wanted our children to know we have committed ourselves to sacrificially serve and cherish each other the way that Jesus loves us. In contrast to what they might see on television or in society, we want them to understand that God has spoken clearly about this topic. In Malachi 2:16, God says, "I hate divorce" (NIV). If God hates something, so should we.
Build Bridges With Prayer
Early in our marriage, Barbara and I started praying together before we went to sleep. This simple habit of acknowledging God's presence in our marriage saved us from many nights of isolation. How? By building bridges across the chasms that may have widened between us during the day.
When the children came, we also prayed with them at bedtime. More often than not, the last sound in their room, before the "Good night," was that of a parent's prayer. This helped them experience what the Bible describes: "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Cf. Psalm 3:5).
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that more than half the children of America have a television in their bedroom. What a tragedy. For millions of children, the last words in their ears come from the TV set.
Keep Romance Alive in Your Marriage
Forget what you see in the movies. The flames of romance will go out if you don't tend the fire. We learned, with the arrival of six children in 10 years, that there were three kinds of fuel that kept our hearts warm toward each other: a weekly date night, exchanging little notes and personal expressions of thoughtfulness, and getting away for three nights alone once or twice a year.
There are different ways to keep the fire kindled. For instance, guys, how about turning off ESPN long enough to pay attention to the children and help with household duties? Husbands are to live with their wives in an "understanding way" according to 1 Peter 3:7. Do you understand what your wife needs? What makes her feel cherished? What would communicate love to her? A love letter? Then write one.
God is passionate about romance in marriage and is pleased when we turn our affections toward one another. Proverbs 5:18-19 says, "rejoice in the wife of your youth ... may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love" (NIV). I believe divorce would be rare within the Church if more Christian couples actively embraced a lifestyle of romance in marriage.
Be the First to Seek Forgiveness
Someone has said, "A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers." That's easier to talk about than it is to do. But when I've blown it, I must swallow my pride and say, "I'm sorry, please forgive me."
Whether it's my wife or my children that I've wronged, I know the importance of seeking their forgiveness. Ephesians 4:26 admonishes us, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry" (NIV). God knows that if we allow issues to remain unresolved, we give the enemy an opportunity to divide us. Is there any unresolved conflict in your family right now? Take the initiative to seek and to model forgiveness.
Play With Lincoln Logs and Legos
When our children were young, Lincoln Logs and Legos brought hours of joy to them. Every time I got down on their level to put the pieces together, I couldn't help but marvel at the connection that was made between us. As we played, I was speaking their "love language."
Eventually Legos were replaced with sports, parties and activities. Throughout our children's teen years, Barbara and I continued to speak their love language—and speak it often. The pattern for our interaction was created as we played on the floor. Who would have thought that part of our legacy was being shaped one Lego at a time?
Commitment, prayer, romance, forgiveness and even Legos are all part of growing a spiritually strong family. I challenge you to become a part of a family revolution, one that reclaims our world for the glory of God—one heart, one marriage, one home at a time.