Overcoming Family Baggage
We have discussed God’s design for marriage – and no doubt, we’ll be discussing it in the future – but the plain truth is that a substantial proportion of marriages can be traced to “less than auspicious beginnings. In other words, a lot of our marriages didn’t get started the right way! Whether the difficulties are related to our present marriages, or to previous marriages / relationships, many of us are carrying a load of emotional baggage. Sometimes we may also be lugging some physical and/or financial baggage. In other words, our past has left its mark!
The truth is that every person, even if they are the product of a “good” home, has some preconceived notions, some physical and/or emotional irregularities, some deeply ingrained feelings – which may interfere with the marriage relationship. This is especially true of second (or higher numbered) marriages / relationships. Are there “kids” from a previous relationship? Don’t pretend that it’s no problem – because even in the best of relationships, there will be details which must be worked out.
In fact, even if two young people who have never had any sort of intimate relationship with anyone else marry, there will be adjustments. Those adjustments are what we mean when we mention “baggage”. Such complications can create great tension and cause arguments, fights, and family splits – or they can be handled with sensitivity, love and understanding – and eventually disappear, blending right into the fabric of a happy marriage. The difference depends upon the attitudes and actions of the participants.
We know that God’s prescription for marriage, from Genesis 1 & 2 is for the man and woman to leave family and friends, be bonded together, and to “become one flesh”. That is not some magical, automatic bonding which occurs purely as a result of the sexual union, though. Tender, thoughtful consideration and understanding for one another is absolutely essential. Don’t assume that it is a 50/50 proposition, either, because there will be times when both parties feel that they are giving MUCH more than a fair share.
If you hope to overcome “the baggage”, you must be willing to carry the entire load when doing so is necessary – and to carry it without complaining or holding a grudge. Even if you think that you are willing to do that, though, you should still take enough time to recognize/identify the baggage, on both sides. If, for example, you tend to be irritable and short tempered, you must admit that fact, and determine that you will try diligently to control those impulses. You must also recognize your partner’s shortcomings, and be willing to deal with them lovingly and patiently.
The great Apostle Paul wrote, in Ephesians 5:25 (HCSB): “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” We know that Christ literally allowed Himself to be tortured to death because of His love for us. Guys – that is how much God wants you to love your wife! If you DON’T love her that much, you don’t love her enough. If you DO love your spouse that much, you CAN handle the baggage!
If you love her enough to be willing to die for her, then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty obeying Colossians 3:19 (HCSB): Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them. If you can prevent yourself from behaving bitterly, the relationship can proceed on an even keel, without resentment – and you are well on the way to overcoming the baggage.
With the modern emphasis on equality, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for us to agree that if the husband is to exercise this level of affection and self control, the wife should be willing to do the same.
Even when both partners have agreed to these “rules”, it is inevitable that there will be disagreements sooner or later. When disagreements do come, we should agree in advance that We WILL NOT use guns, knives, or clubs to settle our disagreements! Does sound to you like a completely unnecessary and outrageous comment? It is here for contrast. You should realize that harsh words and petty actions can be just as harmful as lethal weapons. You can do irreparable harm to your mate and to your relationship – so you should agree in advance that you absolutely will not – ever – intentionally use words and actions which cause pain or harm!
That is part of the meaning of that scripture from Colossians. If you are unable to apply these principles on your own, seek professional help. Your marriage is worth it! With God’s help, You CAN overcome whatever baggage was brought to your marriage.
Read more Christian Topics: