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At 18 and two weeks old, I married my high school sweetheart. Let me say that I was probably the most naïve 18-year-old on the planet at the time. I lived at home with my younger sister and my parents. Times were simple then; we worked the fields with family, friends and neighbors where everyone was kind, respectful and polite to each other.
Wednesday nights and Sundays were spent in church activities with the same group of people. In the winter, the church ladies met at my mother’s home for their Missionary Meeting on Tuesday nights and turned out many a beautiful and unique handmade quilt to be given to needy families. Those were special times. I remember making desserts and coffee to serve them and loved the laughter and chatter of the group.
Genesis 2: 24 states, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” That’s not exactly how it happened. I married into a family of two parents with my husband, the youngest of 10 children with spouses and children of their own.
For whatever reason, this family determined I would not be accepted. Thus, I was always the odd man out at any family function or event. I learned rapidly that folks could smile at you to your face and cut you down when at your back. My husband continued banding with his immediate family, making little effort at creating a family of his own.
The Bible clearly indicates there are two types of relationships: the parent-child relationship that is temporary; and the husband-wife relationship that is permanent. The Pharisees questioned and tempted Jesus about that very thing.
According to Matthew 19:3-6, “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?’ And he answered and said unto them, ‘Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Therefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’”
The word cleave means to “split away,” but Biblically, it refers to “cling to.” In Genesis 22:3, Abraham “took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering.” And the Psalmist in Psalm 141:7 spoke of the same: “Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.” The meaning turned reverse of the preceding when in Psalm 137:6 the Psalmist spoke of his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth. Also, refer to the Scripture above where Jesus instructs a man should cleave to his wife and the two become one.
Cleaving indicates such intimacy that there should be no closer relationship than between the two spouses — no parent, other family members, or friend should share that familiarity. Yet, this family was like an entity of its own; everything they did included each other, and no event occurred without the entire in-group present.
There are two ways in which people navigate intimate relationships — interdependency and codependency. What is the difference, and which approach is considered healthy?
Oftentimes, codependency is confused with or gives the illusion of support, love and availability, but there may be a lot of manipulation. The codependent individual may feel they are missing out if they are not included in every event of their original family unit, as was the case with my husband’s immediate family. An unhealthy need to be needed exists that keeps one dependent on someone else to make them feel worthy and lovable. This behavior exhibits non-controlling conduct with another.
On the other hand, interdependency gives one the freedom to express oneself and grow dynamically as an individual. If you are beginning a relationship with another, consider the Apostle Paul’s words in his second letter in 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 to his protégé Timothy: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Work diligently toward making your relationship, especially when entertaining the idea of marriage, a union of one, clinging one to the other. Build your marriage from the ground up with Christ at the center and you will not fail.
“Equip you for every good work” refers to both man and woman. If the true center of your life is a Christian one, you will treat your companion well. Colossians 3: 12-14 says, “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
Pat Throckmorton is a resident of Perquimans County.
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