by James Rudy Gray
Someone once said that the best gift a parent can give his or her children is to love the other parent. But, we are continuing to experience a divorce rate around 60 percent (for both Christians and non-Christians), and there are unhealthy patterns among too many of those who are still together.
What can we do to strengthen our marriages and our families? Value each other.
It's easy to see the mistakes and flaws in another person. It's more difficult to show that imperfect person he/she is valuable to us. It is right to do it. It produces healthier homes when we do it. Since none of us can claim perfection, we should be able to encourage other imperfect people, especially those we call family.
God, who is perfect, values His people who behave imperfectly. Because God gives value to us, we can and should value others-most notably our mates and kids. But something is happening in marriages in America. It is called drifting. It is a process of uncoupling. God designed marriage for intimacy, yet the longer we are married in this culture, the greater the tendency to grow apart. Drifting begins with a problem that is not resolved. It may be a dissatisfaction or disappointment that is not voiced. It leads to a mostly unspoken conclusion, "I am not happy with my relationship with my partner." Disillusionment then grows, temptations arise, emotional pain increases, and drifting is the result. Any number of destructive things may happen next.
Drifting has a solution: a commitment to value the other person. That type of commitment draws people together. It shows another person he/she is appreciated. It usually has a reciprocal effect.. It influences the whole structure of the family system. Most importantly, it can be done!
It's so easy to neglect a garden and let the weeds take over. It takes a deliberate commitment to value it. Our family relationships are like very special gardens. Valuing that relationship is the hard work that leads to both receiving and being a blessing. It's a principle that works for every member of the family.
Two secular researchers recently concluded something about the state of the family in America: "Behind closed doors there is profound sorrow." Resources, seminars, workshops, etc., may not work. Love will. Our ability to love comes from God. Our responsibility to love comes from God. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:11,19).