#1. The Law Of Priority
When God designed the marriage covenant, He did so with the intent that this special commitment between a man and a woman would be more important than any other human relationship. That is the reason God commanded a man to leave his father and mother for the cause of marriage.
The word “leave” in Genesis 2:24 is the Hebrew word “azab,” which literally means “to loosen or relinquish.” So when God said that a man should leave his father and mother when he married, He meant that a man was to relinquish the highest position of commitment and devotion previously given to his parents in order to give that position to his wife.
To put it simply, God designed marriage to operate as the most important human relationship in our lives. It is only second in priority to our relationship with Him. If we put marriage in any position of priority other than the one God has instituted, it will not work.
If you examine any problem that may exist in your own marriage or of those around you, it won’t take long to see that many of those issues are the result of misplaced priorities. In fact, untold millions of couples have ended up in a divorce court because they failed to properly uphold the priority of their marriage covenant. Millions of others live frustrated, strife-filled lives for the same reason.
You can’t microwave communication, and nothing can substitute for it. If you are too busy to talk, then you have to find another area of your life to sacrifice rather than sacrificing your marriage. The law of priority means our marriages have to be the first priority in our lives in real terms. There is no possible way you could be obeying the law of priority and not communicating with your spouse in a manner that satisfies his or her need.
If you realize your children have replaced your spouse as your first priority, you need to make it right. First of all, repent to your spouse, and ask for their forgiveness. Second, stop responding to the constant demands of your children. Love them and care for them, but don’t allow them to violate the boundaries of your marriage as they consume all of your time and energies. Train them to respect your marriage.
Also, create new disciplines in your marriage to redirect your time and energy to your spouse in a prioritized, regular manner. Even though many times the passions in the marriage have faded at this point because of the problems that have existed, that doesn’t matter. Don’t let your feelings dictate your actions. Do the right thing, and the passions of your marriage will return.
Anything that isn’t growing is static and will eventually become entropic and die. In other words, if it isn’t growing, it’s headed in the wrong direction and will only get worse. Therefore, when a relationship stops growing and loses its focus and passion, it will grow worse over time until it is dead.
This is why Jesus wouldn’t idly stand by and watch as His precious saints in Ephesus emotionally drifted away from Him. Because of His great love for us, He fights for the priority and integrity of our relationship. He knows that it is possible to keep a relationship strong and growing for a lifetime.
#2. The Law Of Pursuit
From the very beginning, God has revealed to us the secret of staying in love—work! Marriage only works when you work at it. The mistake that causes a marriage to begin a downward slide is not work, but the lack of it. Taking each other for granted and trying to coast through life on the sled of past memories and events creates a negative energy that causes relationships to slide backwards.
Just because you live in the same house or share the same kids or checkbook does not mean you will feel anything for your spouse or have a strong relationship. For the rest of your life, you must work every day at your marriage for it to be rewarding and healthy. When you stop working at it, it will stop working for you.
In many ways, marriage is like the muscles in our bodies. When we exercise them regularly, our bodies become strong and attractive. However, when we lie around and don’t exercise, our bodies become weak and unattractive. And the more we lie around, the less we feel like exercising, and the weaker our muscles become.
THE SERVANT RULES
The law of pursuit can be summarized by this simple truth: Marriage only works when you work at it. It requires energy and effort. The degree to which we are willing to work at our marriage relationships is the exact degree to which they will work. Here is the big question regarding this issue: What are we working to accomplish? Or in other words, what is the point of our efforts?
The answer to those questions is simple but extremely important. Here it is: we are working to meet our spouse’s needs. And their basic needs are much different than our own. Not only do we not share the same basic needs as our spouses, we typically have a hard time even understanding their needs when they express them to us and ask us for assistance.
Therefore, for needs to be met and mutual satisfaction to be achieved in any marriage, one element must be present in both spouses—a servant spirit. The greatest marriage on earth is two servants in love. The worst marriage is two selfish people in love. To understand this issue, we must realize that when we get married, we are at each other’s mercy as it relates to getting our needs met.
#3. The Law Of Partnership
Beyond the obvious meaning of becoming “one flesh” through sexual intercourse, Genesis 2:24 states a law of marriage that permeates every area of life.
Once we understand and obey this law, we will experience a significant depth of unity and bonding in marriage. However, if we break this law, even innocently, the damage to the trust and intimacy of the relationship can be severe. To understand the full meaning and implications the law of partnership has in marriage, consider this truth: Marriage is a complete union in which all things previously owned and managed individually (separately) are now owned and managed jointly. There are no exceptions. Anything in marriage that is not willfully submitted to the ownership of the other person is held outside the union, producing legitimate jealousy.
The act of becoming one flesh involves much more than sex. It involves merging everything owned by and associated with two persons into one mass, jointly owned and managed. If there is something a spouse is unwilling to merge into the marriage, that spouse is breaking the law of partnership and violating the rights of the other spouse.
DISARMING DESTRUCTIVE DOMINANCE
The law of partnership is absolute in marriage. We must share everything as equals. The number one enemy of the law of partnership is dominance. It destroys intimacy because it doesn’t want to share. It wants to control. As human beings we were created by God to relate to our spouses as equals. Control is against our design.
God created marriage in the Garden of Eden. The word “Eden” means “pleasure and delight.” This is important for us to remember because so many people today equate marriage with pain and suffering—not pleasure. But the fact remains that God originally designed marriage as a relationship of ultimate pleasure and delight. Adam and Eve were created beautifully naked without shame in a wonderland of intimacy.
They were equals. They were complementary equals, and as such, they shared their lives in peaceful intimacy as God designed.
#4. The Law Of Purity
In marriage, we start out instinctively desiring to share ourselves with each other. However, for this to take place, there must be a prepared and protected atmosphere providing an environment where we can regularly “get naked.”
God designed the nakedness of marriage to include every area of our lives: body, soul, and spirit. When we are able to undress ourselves in every area before our spouses without shame or fear, we are in a healthy place for a strong, intimate relationship to develop. If we cannot expose ourselves completely before our spouses, it means we are hiding something. This hidden thing needs to be exposed. The reason is simple: God created us with a need for intimacy, and it can only occur in an atmosphere of honesty and vulnerability.
Perhaps you have never realized that you have a need for nakedness before your spouse, but you do. This is not simply physical exposure, but rather, the exposure of everything about you. You need to open up and reveal yourself, but you cannot do that in just any place or with just any person.
Healthy nakedness must happen in a special place with the right person. Although special friends and family can accommodate the need for exposure to some degree, marriage is the singular place God has created for us to fulfill the need for total exposure of our true selves. At this point, you may say, “Well, I’m married, and I certainly can’t expose every area of my being to my spouse!”
You may not be able at this time to fulfill your inner desire to become completely open and vulnerable in marriage, yet the truth remains that God created a need in us for complete exposure. The fact that your situation does not make that feasible does not eliminate the need or change the fact that God created marriage as the place for it to be met.