By Scott Morefield, Contributing Writer
We all know the stereotypes – ‘ball and chain,’ ‘old lady,’ the bartender telling the guys, “you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here,” as if the bar were the ultimate guy haven, a place where nobody judges you and ‘everybody knows your name.’ After all, everybody KNOWS no guy in his right mind wants to go home to his wife, right? The roughly half of marriages that end in divorce is highly publicized, and the sheer unadulterated misery that the other 50% must go through is the stuff of legends, sitcoms and country songs. No wonder people are getting married later and later in life. They are scared to death!
Marriage was the first institution given by God to mankind, the family being the building block, the cornerstone of society itself. If God gave us the institution of marriage so that man “would not be alone,” why does today’s society idealize time spent AWAY from one’s spouse? Why does society constantly seek to tear down, marginalize, and redefine marriage?
The answer is nothing short of a pretty brilliant, albeit Satanic, strategy – destroy the family, the cornerstone, and the rest will come tumbling down with it. If there is a more effective way to destroy a culture, I haven’t thought of it.
Sure, married Christians have an uphill climb. But with God’s help it’s an attainable challenge that starts with remaking our homes into the havens that the world wants every other place to be. Home should be a man’s castle, a woman’s hearth, the place where we come to seek refuge from the slings and arrows of the outside world, the place where we find unconditional, unending love and acceptance.
Here are some ways to ensure your home is a haven of refuge and not a place to be avoided at any cost!
5 Steps to Making Your Home a Haven
1) Don’t have a critical spirit towards your spouse
We know our spouse better than anybody else in the world. And just as we know each other’s strengths, we also know, more than anybody else, each other’s weaknesses. It’s so easy, when faced with those weaknesses (especially at the end of a long, stressful work day or a rough day with the kids!), to want to point them out in ways that aren’t patient, loving, tactful or kind.
‘You always hurt the one you love,’ is more than a famous song, it’s the reality for so many couples. We put up a smiley face mask for the entire world, but when we get home and the facade falls off, often what’s left is far from the patient, encouraging, loving partner our spouse needs us to be. Sure, iron SHOULD sharpen iron, and some things should be addressed in a prayerful, loving, respectful way, but don’t ever let that descend into a critical spirit.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Matthew 7:3
2) Find and do things you enjoy, together, but also give your spouse the freedom to do what he/she enjoys
When you were a kid, remember how cool it was to share a hobby with your best friend? My best friend and I had so much in common growing up – we traded baseball cards, read the same books, played the same games, watched the same movies, etc. We grew up together, so in a way we were introduced to the world at the same time, and when one of us found something the other didn’t know about we couldn’t wait to share it. Later in life, when we marry our ULTIMATE best friend, the discoveries we make together will mean even more, go even deeper than movies and baseball cards.
Few couples have everything or nothing in common. There’s usually some overlap. Find what you have in common and make it a point to DO those things as a couple! Constant, continual learning is one of life’s great privileges, and married people should always be learning, together. In addition to what you already had in common, discovering hobbies and interests you both enjoy but neither of you enjoyed before you were married is especially fun and satisfying.
Of course, no matter how many things you do as a couple, there will always be things you enjoy but your spouse won’t want to do – and that’s OK. Give her the freedom to pursue those interests as well, as long as there is balance.
3) Cook and eat dinner together
Despite what seems to be popular belief, the family dinner table is not a relic of a bygone era. In fact, it is an essential element of family fellowship, communication, and unity. It is one of the things that make a house a home, a haven. Resist the temptation to eat out too often or to eat at separate times (unless absolutely necessary). Not only will you be healthier (cooking from scratch instead of eating out is one of the best things you can do for your health!), but the time you’ll spend bonding with the ones you love the most is priceless.
4) Pray and study God’s Word together
Individual devotions are great, but making time, at least on occasion, to pray and study the Bible as a couple will not only draw you closer to God, but it will draw you closer as a couple.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalms 119:105
5) Keep a clean, tidy house
This is a very basic point, but don’t overlook it. Sure, points 1-4 may have to do with deeper aspects of our relationship with our spouse, but really, who wants to live in a dirty, cluttered, unkempt home? Work as a TEAM to keep your home tidy and clean, and it will be the inviting, cozy, welcoming place where you’ll WANT to spend your time together.
Having a foundation, a home, a castle, a hearth, a haven to come home to, where we are loved, accepted, understood, appreciated – a place where we can be ourselves and enjoy our time with the ones we love most – is a priceless gift from God. It allows us to fearlessly face the world knowing that, despite all that may be going wrong around us, we’ll always find strength and encouragement at home.