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I also have no express commands from God concerning relationships but I write as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy – 1Corinthians 7:25

Paul had an interesting take here in answering the questions that were raised by the churches to him concerning relational issues in their mist. He made it clear that he had no express commandment from God in response to their questions but he could apply the wisdom of God on such matters, knowing that all things might be lawful but not expedient.

Relationships are tailored to the individuals involved thus, different people deal with different issues in relationships. There are some absolutes where we have direct commandment from heaven e.g. not being unequally yoked with an unbeliever etc, but once these requirements have been met in any relationship most people transcend into the serious issues or “grey areas” where a lot of wisdom is required. Decision making in issues like this varies from person to person depending on the kind of situation they find themselves.

This article will focus on key issues that are pertinent to the marriage institution and if or when applied can help build stronger Christian family ties as against the lack luster, mediocre way in which Christian homes are built these days. Understanding a person’s family and recognizing the power of family background is one key area that people have overlooked in terms of how and why people act in certain ways. The family is the first area of awareness for an individual, not the church or work place or the school. There are ideologies or ideals that people are more often given to in terms of how things should be done because these are what they have been exposed to in their families.

Next are character issues and how you deal with it is one important aspect of a relationship. Using the combination of love and affection that two people have for each other can help correct these character flaws. The two most important words in the success of any relationship regardless of love are ‘respect and accountability’. Since growth and development is essential for any relationship, it is therefore important for people in relationships to act as checks for one another.

In dealing with character issues I have arrived at the expression ‘ Romantic Confrontation‘, which is a way of helping a person change through the avenue of love. For instance, if conflict is properly managed it can become a vehicle for a vibrant and healthy relationship. In life, once you have mastered the art of having the right reaction either in a good or bad situation, you are in for a wonderful life. It is therefore of uttermost importance that when carrying out the ‘Romantic Confrontation‘ the following tips are essential;

» Pray for the person you are in a relationship with
» Do Not Be Verbally Abusive rather, constructively work at making your spouse a better person
» Remember to emphasize their admirable attributes so that when they are ‘romantically confronted’ they know it is for their own good.
» Never dwell on emotional hangovers, deal with issues as they arrive.
» As to all correctional methods it would be met with resistance; so do not let down Your guard until you see genuine changes.

Another key issue is people misinterpreting the real cause of a break-up in a relationship as lack of communication, when the real problem is that one of the partners feels trapped in it. The scripture says, “in the sweat of your hands shall you eat bread”. The word “sweat” literally means you will struggle to eat or survive because of the kind of people around you. If you are surrounded by people who choke you, your productivity level will automatically diminish. Even Jesus when He was surrounded with the wrong people could not do mighty works as He used to. Human freedom is the most precious thing and people react when it is being taken away from them. In relationships we should learn to strike a balance at all times as there is a thin line between loving and smothering someone.

The family background is another essential issue in any relationship. How you and your spouse feel about family is important. The dynamics and structure of a family is not an issue for the church but rather for the respective families concerned because marriage is under the authority of the family. It is better for parents to support a marriage than for the church because the family is the first institution and not the Church. The family is mostly the determining factor of some behavioral attributes in marriage and no one can live above his or her family dynamics no matter how enlightened or exposed they pride themselves to be.

The following points are also important as regards the family in view of marriage:

» Positioning:

As trivial as it sounds the position a person holds in the family is very important and can be the cause of certain behavioral traits. For instance; first born girls with very few exceptions can be very domineering as well as independent, as they have often had to take care of younger siblings. While most last born children are often over pampered and spoilt. So in the event where two last born children marry themselves, we would have two people who are probably used to having their way and not properly managed would cause friction.

» Parents:
It would be in the interest of people to realize that there are six people (the parents on both sides and the couple) and not two involved in a marriage. However, there are primarily two people involved most times. But the other four are a constant that should be carried along. As part of the process of marriage, it is required that you show the parents from time to time that you genuinely care about them by doing things for them, seek their opinion on issues but make it clear that the final decision lies with you. This is because problems can erupt if parents feel sidelined by the entrance of a spouse in their child’s life.

» Communicate Your Feelings:
You should learn to be sincere when sharing your feelings about each other’s families but sensitive as well because families are partners to the marriage. For example, if a member of his or her family makes you uncomfortable or is a bit talkative, be sensitive when speaking to your spouse about it as they are still his relatives in order to avoid resentment. By every means talk about the admirable characters that you have witnessed too so as to give balance to the not so good ones. Therefore, be honest but sensitive about matters concerning your spouse’s family.

» Respect for Parents:
Make it a matter of duty that your partner honors his/her parents. Never tolerate them talking bad about their parents at least not while you are there. Also ensure that they do their bit in supporting and providing for their parents with their substance.

In conclusion, the ways and manner in which stronger Christian families can be built is for appropriate seeds to be sown when the individuals are still single and dating. Once these seeds have been sown it helps to actualize the establishing and fostering of stronger and viable families.

- PASTOR POJU OYEMADE

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