By DALE AND JENA FOREHAND, LifeWay Communications
With the holiday season quickly approaching, the beauty of Christmas gets easily marred by the busyness it seems to demand.
The battle is for your time, as you run from store to store, sale to sale, and party to party. Is it any wonder that by the time Christmas actually gets here, you are absolutely and completely frazzled?
Certainly the reason for the season has lost its momentousness, if not its meaning. This pressure, when added to the dynamics of a marriage, can literally tug on the marriage rope of oneness and security.
[img_assist|nid=6902|title=A Tug of War?|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=56]If your marriage is or has been overwhelmed by the pressures of Christmas, now is the time to slow down and take a moment to reflect.
Your Marriage is a wonderful PRESENT from God
With commercialized Christmas revolving around giving and receiving gifts, isn’t it time to consider your immediate family as one of the greatest gifts ever given? Once you begin to view your marriage as a precious gift from God, your Christmas will have an entirely new focus and meaning.
With this perspective, you will give your marriage special attention, care, and protection from anything that might cause it harm. Understanding this initial truth, you can begin to weave a strong cord into your marriage strand that cannot be easily broken. John 8:32 says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” As this truth becomes an important part of your Christmas, you will be set free to enjoy your spouse and children with a thankful heart. And, since truth is found in the Person of Jesus Christ, you can’t help but praise Him for coming to earth to set you free! Wow, what a present!
Your Marriage is a PARTNERSHIP by God’s design
In the beginning, as God created the heavens and the earth, He declared that all was good. However, upon creating Adam, something was still missing. God said that it was “not good for the man to be alone,” for there was no “helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). God created Eve to be Adam’s partner in life. In partnership, we understand that we do together whatever we do. Whether you have a golf partner, tennis partner, business partner, or Bible study partner, you are working together for one common goal.
The same is no less true in marriage. In fact, it is more critical in marriage than in any other relationship in life.
Take the time this Christmas season to develop partnership in your marriage. Don’t isolate yourself from your spouse, but join him or her in the journey. Partnership in marriage means that any decision you make should be made together, with the best interest of the immediate family at heart. Note that decisions are made to benefit the whole family, not to fulfill your own selfish wants and desires.
A healthy way to handle decisions about what holiday activities your family will engage in would be to discuss both the positive and negative aspects of each situation, thoroughly examining every consideration. Spend considerable time in prayer, asking God to lead you in your decisions (Philippians 4:6). Then, once the best options for the family have surfaced, follow through with your decisions. When this is accomplished, you will have a marriage of partnership just the way God designed.
You may be asking, “But what happens when the extended family members try to influence the situation because they want things their way?” Let’s look at the next truth.
Your Marriage is a PRIORITY in God’s creation
God said that man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (Genesis 2:24, KJV). The word “cleave” comes from the Hebrew word dabaq which means, “to impinge, cling, or adhere to.”
It’s like taking two pieces of wood and putting them together with wood glue and screws for good measure. They are so connected that to separate them would literally destroy both pieces.
This is why God says He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He knows that the covenant marriage He ordained so impinges the husband and wife together that separating the two will damage both greatly.
God created marriage to be a priority. Christmas, with all its demands, can subtly undermine the priority of your marriage. This Christmas, reaffirm your commitment to your marriage and family. They are of utmost importance. Your marriage relationship must take precedence over all others, even your relationship with your parents.
A marriage of priority places your family of origin’s traditions in proper balance and perspective. When you begin to view your marriage as a priority, you are honoring God’s plan for marriage.
The next issue you may grapple with is this: “Okay, we’ve come to a decision together, we’ve made our marriage and decision a priority, but the extended family is still not pleased with the resolution. What now?”
Your Marriage can set PARAMETERS of protection
A parameter is a boundary where limits are set to protect the treasure inside. Henry Cloud and John Townsend in their book Boundaries (Zondervan) state that a boundary is designed to “define your soul, and help you to guard it and maintain it.” Because your marriage is a treasure, protective limits must be set.
If this Christmas season involves establishing protective parameters of priority and partnership around your marriage, then it is imperative that this be communicated to your family. With respect, you need to share with them your decision about how your immediate family will celebrate the holidays and how you arrived at the conclusion.
Explain how the family weighed all the options, the reasons behind the decision, and why this alternative is the most beneficial. It is always wise to empathize with your extended family, knowing your plans may not conform to their wishes, and to express appreciation for their understanding.
Keep in mind that the root of extended family plans for holiday celebrations is love for you and a desire to be with you.
If you can consider their perspective throughout this process, you will do better at communicating your decisions in a tender manner (see Ephesians 4:32).
If your extended family chooses to be angry with you, reject you, or extend ultimatums after you share your holiday plans, stand firm in love with your decision.
Though it might seem tough at first, setting parameters can actually make future confrontations easier.
Your marriage can be at PEACE with your decision
You and your spouse must be confident and calm that your decision about holiday plans is the right one for your family. Even in moments of rejection, times of ridicule, or when guilt is being heaped on you, you can still be at peace. This comes from knowing that you and your family are doing what is best for all involved.
God’s Word promises that you will be kept in perfect peace when your mind is focused on Him because you trust Him (Isaiah 26:3-4).
Therefore, don’t be anxious or worried about your decision, but ask God to direct you. Then He will give you peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Let Go of the Rope
This Christmas, don’t get caught in a tug of war. Enjoy Christmas with Christ as its centerpiece. Celebrate the precious gift of family God has given you.
And, when you feel the tug, let go of the rope! Let God soothe the hurt feelings of others who may not understand your decisions.
Doing this allows for a pleasant holiday experience, and Christmas will be a joy, not a war.