Do you recall the story of Isaac and Rebekah? We meet Rebekah in Genesis 24 when Isaac’s father Abraham sends a servant back to his family to secure a wife for Isaac. Rebekah returns with the servant willingly to marry a man she has never met.
Twenty years later, twin boys Jacob and Esau come along. Take a look at Genesis 25:28: Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Mom and Dad chose favorites. And in the long run, choosing favorites caused major issues in the family. Although Scripture does not go into detail about the marital relationship of Isaac and Rebekah, her willingness to readily deceive her husband for the sake of her favored son (Genesis 27) is pretty solid evidence of division within the marriage.
What about us?
The story of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau is not about marriage, and I won’t stretch it to glean marital truths from it. But it is an example of what happens when we allow our children to form a wedge between us and our spouses. Because it is an example, I believe we can use it as a springboard from which to discuss positive alternatives.
Here are some thoughts to ponder:
1) Instead of dividing us, the presence of our children should remind us to intentionally put one another first.
Our oldest child loved both mama and daddy and wanted us to fill different needs. Our second child was much more particular, but she did not mind mommy and daddy being together – as long as I could be there to meet her needs.
When our son came along, though, we found ourselves in brand new territory. He was a jealous mama’s boy through and through. Once he began to talk, “My mommy!” was a common phrase when my husband would try to hug me while our son was in my arms. My husband would sweetly, but firmly, respond with, “My wifey!” and proceed to wrap me in a huge hug. He was never harsh with our son, but he intentionally taught our baby boy that it was not a competition.
And now my son has no doubts. He knows I’m Daddy’s first. And he’s secure in that knowledge and in the knowledge of our love for him. By extension, my husband and I have seen our love continually strengthened because we reinforce it before our children and the rest of the world!
2) Instead of making life about our children, we are driven to even more strongly consider the impact of our marriage on the world around us.
Our children see the ups, downs, and in-betweens of our marriage. They hear us fuss and disagree. They see us in unity. But, through it all, they are completely confident in our solidarity. And if they see our solidarity, how much more will the world see it?
Marital solidarity is not a cultural preference these days. But it is a biblical reality. Being intentional about our marriage is an incredible testimony, and our children offer a great litmus test by which we can evaluate how others view our relationship.
3) Finally, instead of life being us versus them – whether it’s Dad and Mom versus the kids or Dad and “Esau” lined up against Mom and “Jacob” – interactions with our children can help us learn how to be strong in marriage in communion with others.
I’ve clearly stated on more than one occasion how important it is for my husband and me to pull back and have time to ourselves. But, it’s also important for us to function in community with others. So, we start with our family. We are training our children to follow Christ in everything. That means that if Doug and I have to divide to do women’s or men’s things, our “little” women and man divide and go with us. That’s part of training them. If we divide as a family, it is very rarely for one of us to go a lonely direction. Yes, that’s necessary on occasion, but it is our rule to make that the exception!
Marriage is not just about him and me. It’s about us. It’s about everything that encompasses us. Our children are a part of that! As a result, we must actively pursue a godly marriage as a family. What are ways you can accomplish that this year?