would like to welcome you to a brand new month, the month of February, the month of, 'Building My Home'. I pray the Lord will bless your home and help you to build it. By home I am referring to all aspects of your family: children, spouse, parents, siblings and in-laws. Every force and battles, visible and invisible you are encountering in your home, as a spouse, child, parent and as in laws I pray that God will give you victory in the name of Jesus.
There is no better word to describe marriage than the words penned down by the Holy Ghost through the writer of Hebrews in Chapter thirteen verse four - "Marriage is honourable; the bed undefiled." I took time to check out the word honourable. This is what I found out. Worthy of honour. The synonyms will make you equally happy: honest, moral, ethical, principled, righteous and right minded. The question then arises, is this what we find in marriages today? Do these words describe our homes and relationships today? Let us be truthful to ourselves: the answer in most cases is capital NO.
Many of those who are yet to go into marriage are already frustrated about marriage before the start whistle is even blown!
Let us hear from someone in the marriage: "What is it then, Jab" the middle-aged woman said, sadness emanating from her eyes.
"I suppose that means I'm the reason for your irritability. You don't seem happy, and I have to dance around your moods. But when I bring them up, you say you're not unhappy." Jab didn't deny being irritable or unhappy this time. He simply let her question sit in the dense air of my office. Waiting for an answer that didn't come, Jill finally looked helplessly at me."You see," she said, now talking to me. "This is what happens. I try to talk to him about his moods, but he either becomes even more irritable with me, pointing the finger at me and my moods, or he withdraws. Either way, we end up in another blow out. I can't stand it." "Jill," Jab said, turning to face her. "You are not seeing your part in this whole thing. Look at the way you are right now. I can't get you to see you have just as many moods as I have. Why is it always about me and my moods? Why can't we talk about you?" ¹
The summary of this is that many of those in marriage are always quarrelling, fighting, abusing one another, divorcing, remarrying and yet the same cycle of marital quagmire continues instead of supposed marital bliss.
I don't need to bother you with the complaints of children about parents and vice versa or that of spouses about in-laws and vice versa, you will think God created marriage for chaos, it is very much the contrary.
What Are The Strategies For Building A Great Home?
The way out in this case which I want to plead for is what I put in these philosophical three sentences and context: wisdom is knowing what to do, skill is knowing how to do it and virtue is doing it. Friends you know what to do, nobody forced you into marriage or will force you into marriage; you know what to do in your marriage: if you don't, I will share some principles with you again, the third part is the 'doing it- virtue.' Put the little tips, counsels, sermons, nuggets you have heard about marriage into use. You said it is not as simple as I think, friends it is simple. Until you learn to do the right thing as a spouse, child, parent, sibling, in-law, that marriage will dance on the dung hill. There are three levels under which I wish to engage our discourse:
1. PLANNING; 2. SEARCHING AND SECURING LIFE PARTNER; 3. PRACTISING MARRIAGE.
I may be wrong, but most people do not prepare for marriage. They are just hoping marriage will work out. I see a lot of people preparing hard for the wedding, a one day event but forgetting to plan for the lifelong marriage. By this simple act they are violating "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" As a Pastor for over 31 years I have been privileged to counsel would-be couples and couples. Even during counselling their body language shows they have no value for the marriage. This is manifested in the actions they take afterwards which leads them to marital disaster. If you are reading this article, mark my words: marriage is not a drive- through phenomenon, marriage is an institution that you need to plan for, pray for and practice based on the biblical principles.
Let me share some guidelines about planning your marriage:
i) Parental duty: Parents, when your children are growing up, expose them to Christian virtues and Christian lifestyle, particularly dependence on God, through a dedicated life of reading the scriptures, praying, fellowship (attending services) and personal examples. If they grew up not valuing the God equation in their lives, they have already started to destroy the marriage they are yet to get into. Marriage is a God instituted establishment; you cannot run marriage without the God component. It is not after you get into marriage that you want to invite God, it may already be too late, because in finding a spouse there are guidelines that you need to follow. If they are not followed, that marriage cannot work. I keep stressing in Canada that parents should value and make it a higher level of priority bringing their children to Sunday school. I am not against taking children to piano lessons and similar extracurricular activities, but bear in mind that most children have formed their opinion of how they want to live by age 5, so get them to embrace Christ at a tender age. What is in people's life is what they share in marriage commitment.
ii). Develop yourself:
Growing up if you know you will eventually get married, then keep it in focus. Grow yourself in these areas, spiritual, financial and emotional.
A. Spiritual Readiness: The Yoruba's have an adage 'Once they give birth to you, you need to give yourself a rebirth.' Meaning your parents can only take you to a level of spiritual growth, you need to deliberately take the process forward. I grew up in a Christian home, found myself in the church choir, drama group, excited about Easter, Christmas and other festivities, but I knew I was a bad boy and had no respect for constituted authority. My life had no meaning until I personally gave my life to Christ, then my values changed. I saw things differently. Until you have a rebirth, you cannot have a good marriage. Every young man wants to have sexual experience with every woman in skirt. A young man can have up to four or five girl friends. Ladies also think they are having fun when they sleep with men. These attitudes and sexual desires will not change if you do not have a rebirth. Vows made on your wedding day are very crucial but it will not carry weight if you are not spiritually reformed before that day.
I remember a lady asking me to minister deliverance to her after a program I had some years back. She told me how on her honeymoon night she was shocked when the husband said, "you don't know me at all. All I have shown you were pretentions, I smoke, I do drugs, I consume alcohol and commit other vices". That woman has been living in hell since day one of her marriage. Even though she was prepared for marriage but the man was not prepared. Marriage is not a one party show, each party must be ready. I consider being spiritually ready for marriage superior than being financially ready. The bible says be not unequally yoked.
B. Financial Readiness: There is no doubt that before going into marriage you must be financially ready marriage needs money to run well. That is not to say you must have all the money you will need to run your marriage, nobody does, we grow financially. You need to have developed yourself academically. Go to college, go to vocational school. You get money by working. You get work through the level of your skills in college or vocational school. If you don't develop your financial plan, your marriage is set for breakdown. No woman wants to marry a man who will be a financial liability or otherwise. Many marriages break down in the dark room of financial troubles. Your educational level will help you overcome a major level of financial challenges. I remember when I wanted to marry in those days. My father in- law asked 'what does the young man have to take care of my daughter' My reply was my Masters degree in Chemical Engineering and my job as a Process Engineer with NNPC. I was ready for marriage. Bear in mind that the times are changing. Don't just finish school and expect to secure a job, you may need to start your own company. The unemployment rate is huge globally.
C. Emotional/ Character Readiness:
The third area you need to be ready is your character level. Your character will play a great part in your marriage. You don't learn how to run a marriage after you are married. Marriage reveals your character. You bring your character to your marriage. This article is not to punch you in the face but to help you plan for marriage if you are not yet there. My counsel is identify character flaws that are dangerous to married life and deal with them now. The list is endless but let me help you with some examples:"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal 5: 19-21.Rather develop a new sense of character: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. " Gal 5:22-23.If you are full of anger, resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness and jealousy (you are just dating and someone shakes your partner and you are sweating what will happen when your spouse is hugs someone after service?) Deal with those emotional hypes now and know that your spouse will not always do things that are right from your perspective. And if you are the lady that likes to hug the opposite sex, to stop it now your husband may not appreciate it and it could cause chaos in the home.
2. SEARCHING AND SECURING A LIFE PARTNER
Let us assume you have done your and you are now ready to marry. There are tested processes and templates you have to follow." Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD." Prov 18:22.That is the template, as a man you have to find a woman. As a woman, you have to know someone is secretly searching for you, watching you, eyeing you. Let me say you are 22 years old now and you want to marry at 25, the first thing you need to do now is start a rigorous prayer life. You can make it easy by having a prayer partner. Commit at least one hour of prayer per week to this important matter. Don't pray about whether the man is tall or short, handsome or beautiful (Beauty is in the eye of the beholder), rather focus your prayers on what matters in relationships - compatibility, of one vision, commitment to marital values, someone who knows God and genuinely loves God, someone who will be a good father/ mother to the children.
One of my prayers at that level of my life was someone who is accommodating. As the first born of my parents, there was no way my siblings would not come and visit or live with us. If my wife is not accommodating, that is a potential danger. If any time your relations visit, your spouse drags you into the room for emergency meeting, then there's an issue. Imagine me now as a Pastor with a wife that is not accommodating, the ministry is already in trouble. (You can request for a prayer point list for singles).
Until you are through in the upper-room don't talk to anyone and don't accept any proposal. Don't jump the gun. Heaven clearance is very important. Once you have heavenly clearance you can just be in a fellowship and God will open your eyes and reveal someone to you or reveal you to someone.
When you have an inclination of who you want to marry, no matter how spiritual you are, do not go and prophecy on the person, descend from your spiritual height and wear human garment. Even if you are a pastor, tell the woman in question you 'love her' not 'thus says the Lord'. Tell her to go and pray and fast about it. Watch her body language. If she is not interested in prayer or fasting or the idea of hearing from God, those are indications of personality or level of preparedness for marriage. It works both ways, If someone wants to marry you and is not giving you opportunity to think and pray about it and pressurizing, you for an answer, Watch Out!
I had an interesting town hall meeting on marital matters at Bohai International University in China last fall. One of the young ladies asked me 'how do I know who loves me?' I said " I don't even know you, how can I know who loves you! But this is my take, if someone approaches you and you don't have any sense of peace, watch out. If he within a short time is asking for sex, know that he is interested in sex, not marriage. If you are dating and the person is always abusing you, shutting you down, be careful. If on your first date he forgets his wallet somewhere and you have to start paying the bills you may never stop paying the bills!
The Long and short of it, is that the time of courtship/dating is the time to do background checks, spiritual checks, mannerism checks. If it is not going to work, back out now. The two of you must take the decision to marry together. Not based on the third party's (parent, pastor, friend etc) choice, opinion or approval, you must be convinced this is the person you want to marry. If you are not in agreement, when challenges comes (not if), instead of facing your challenges as a team you will be playing the blame game. Therefore even if it is a few days or hours before the wedding and you do not see a future in it back out! Don't marry out of sympathy. Once the ring is on your fingers and they pronounce you husband and wife you will never recover from that relationship. If you divorce you are a divorcee. He/she becomes your ex- husband/wife. You pay alimony. No more free parting. The easiest way to marry the wrong person is to engage in premarital sex. You are already husband and wife. Anyone praying for you will see you as husband and wife, you have consummated the marriage whether it results in pregnancy or not. The two of you will live to manage the consequences.
3. PRACTISING MARRIAGE:
I like to refer to the marital life as practicing your marital profession. You must see yourself as a qualified wife/husband practicing your love. Marriage is expression of love, mutual respect and sharing of common goals and visions. Marriage is about a covenant relationship not contract or trial and error relationship. Marriage is a joint commitment to build your lives together including children that God may give you. You see, to practise your profession you must be excited about it looking forward to practising it and expecting rewards. Marriage operates that way. You look forward to everyday of your marriage expecting it to be better than yesterday. You put in all that will build that home. Each partner gives 100% loyalty not 50%. You give 100% spiritual, financial, physical, social commitment to your marriage. You allow room for mistakes, you are quick to apologize or say sorry. Never stingy with 'thank you' for what your spouse has done for you big or small. You are loyal. You are watching your partners back not witch hunting. You are not jotting down his/her mistakes. You are pushing and celebrating her/him to bring out the best in them. You are the co-owners of your marital enterprise. Down turning of life events are learning curves for you, not breaking points or break downs. You are operating on an Ecclesiastical mode:
"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
The man as the husband is playing the traditional role of a leader in the house while the wife is comfortable with her role as a gate keeper of the house. There is no competition but complementation. Your sexual life is not on toll gate basis. Rain check is available when one party is too tired. You are not practicing preferential Rebecca and Isaac model over the children, not even Jacob model. You see challenges as steps and ladders to the next level. "No divorce" is your daily and silent song. Your prayer altars are well kept. You see your in-laws as your parents not witches and wizards out to suck the blood of your marriage. In-laws should also observe and keep their boundaries and perimeters.
I can go on and on, but I have to stop.
Conclusion: There is so much chaos outside there; marriage has become scary to potential couples. You have to be a role model. Prayer, a background check and care being taken before getting married, making courtship wholesome, and having tolerance, appreciation, respect for one another, in marriage are wonderful ways to build your home. From this month, desire to build your home, whatever it will take, your home means much more to the world than you can imagine. Peace.
1. Irritable Men, Frustrated Women - Dr. David Hawkins
Pastor Amos Dada celebrates Nigerian independence in Singapore for the first time and writes from there. Accompanied with Pastor Benjamin Akinrinola are currently on a tour of five nations Singapore,Thailand,Philippine, South Korea and China with a message from the Lord on how individual and nations can redeem the times.