5. Parental companionship. One of the most divisive aspects of marriage is when children come into your home and you don’t see eye-to-eye with your spouse on parenting issues. If you want to achieve a sense of teamwork in your relationship you must quickly establish a workable agreement concerning the training and discipline of your children. As you work together supporting and backing each other up, you will make parenting a source of companionship instead of conflict. Which is it for you? If parenting is a source of conflict between you, here are some practical ideas about how you can come together in this vital area.
First, realize that both of you have strengths and weaknesses in your personalities, skills in parenting, and stress levels. However, God has placed you together to temper and balance each other. Scripture declares that both mother and father are to be involved in training. Therefore, you must both work together toward one goal. Solomon made this truth clear when he said, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (Prov. 1:8).
Second, sit down and discuss with your spouse what your goals are for your children and how you would like to reach them. God’s commands have a very specific goal and purpose. Are your goals in harmony with His? Paul said, “Now the purpose (goal) of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). These are just a few of the primary goals we should have for ourselves in our personal lives and for our children.
Third, ask God to open the eyes of your understanding to your own weaknesses in parenting, and defer to your spouse when you see a potential problem. For example, if you lose your temper during discipline or you give in and fail to discipline at all, let your mate take charge in this area. If your view of parenting is not fully based on Scripture, and this creates conflict with your mate, begin studying the subject of parenting together to encourage discussion, compromise, and agreement.
Fourth, as much as possible, privately discuss together your child’s wrong behaviors or attitudes and agree on a course of action. Then stand side-by-side and administer the discipline. Taking this action accomplishes two things. You won’t be at odds with each other over an issue that is, in reality, your child’s problem, and you will be demonstrating to your child a united front. As you take these actions, you will prevent your child from attempting to exploit your differences, which will dramatically decrease the potential for marital conflict.
6. Sexual companionship. To ever hope to enjoy the true sexual companionship God intends for your marriage, you must establish and maintain companionship in all of the above areas. If you have little companionship spiritually, don’t connect emotionally, or find it difficult to talk or have fun together, it will be very difficult to enjoy a satisfying sexual relationship with each other. However, if you are experiencing real companionship in these other areas and you are still struggling sexually, you must identify and resolve the underlying problems that are causing this breach. Where should you start?
First, don’t minimize your sexual problems and think that sex is not important to your overall relationship. Let me explain by giving you an illustration. If you had an eight-cylinder engine in your car but it only had seven working spark plugs, how do you think the vehicle would perform? It would run, but very roughly.
Why would it be rough going? Because the engine was designed to run on all eight cylinders, not seven. Likewise, your marriage is designed by God to only run smoothly and properly when you love and enjoy each other in all areas of your marriage. Your sexual relationship is one of those important areas. You were created by God with a body, a soul, and a spirit. Therefore, you must experience loving companionship in each of these areas.
How can you build your sexual companionship together? Choose to love and give yourself regularly to one another, meeting that need for intimacy and oneness. Scripture commands you not to deprive one another sexually, but to render the affection due your mate (1 Cor. 7:3-5). To withhold sexual relations from your spouse is direct disobedience to God’s command and clearly is a sinful violation of your marriage vows.
Yet, I’m amazed at how often Christian couples tell me in counseling that little or no sexual intimacy is occurring in their relationship. If you are refusing to meet your mate’s sexual needs, be assured that you are putting your mate into harm’s way and creating an opportunity for severe temptation. In addition, it is equally wrong for you to force yourself upon your spouse without his or her consent (1 Cor 7:5). Choosing to love means that you will be sensitive to each others needs.
The most important thing to do is seek a solution to the problems that have divided you (spiritual, emotional, or physical). If you know what the sexual problems are, talk to one another and seek a solution. If this fails, get some counseling. Above all, ask God to change your heart, and choose to love your spouse.
Then approach one another regularly for relations together. Choose to express real affection toward your mate while engaged in sexual relations. Don’t allow sex to become purely a physical act with little emotion or affection. In addition, seek opportunities to just hold one another in a non-sexual way. Express your love and affection verbally and physically. This behavior only strengthens and encourages your sexual encounters.
If you would like more ideas concerning how to build your sexual relationship see chapter 18 in my book Married And How To Stay That Way.
In conclusion, if God has spoken to your heart and revealed an area in which you lack companionship, don’t wait one more day before you take some action to change this deficiency. Ask God for His help to discern the practical steps that you should take to reach the goal of true companionship. You’ll be glad you did!
Read more marriage advice from Pastor Steven Carr in Part III of this series; What is the Purpose and the Ultimate Goal of Marriage? Part III
If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, please visit Covenant Keepers
Excerpt republished with permission from Covenant Keepers by Pastor Steve Carr, Copyright 2013