In his book “Strengthening Marital Intimacy” Ronald E. Hawkins states that couples can grow together by adhering to the teachings of the bible. The book places stress on the need for the couples to communicate, have firm commitment to each other and finally establish companionship. Other major concepts covered in the book are marital intimacy, wisdom, reality, God’s sovereignty, and sexuality. Dr. Hawkins maintains that true intimacy and commitment have the potential to turn a good marriage into an exceptional one.
It is not sufficient to know the Word of God on an academic, rational level but in order to achieve success in a marriage it is essential to submit to the will of God and actually practice his teachings. Dr Hawkins goes on to explain the role of a man and women in a marriage using the Bible. As husband and wife, a men and woman have equal responsibilities in the marriage (Gen. 1:26-28). God wants men and women to work as partners and there is work for both of them. The Hebrew word “azar” is used to describe a woman, and does not imply inferiority but actually means “helper”.
God provided Adam with a partner, a helper that was his equal and comparable to him, without whom Adam was incomplete. So in a married life the wife needs to support her husband and work as his assistant does not mean that she is any way his subordinate (Hawkins). Marriage is not a man made institution, but a union created by God. It was God who crafted a companion for Adam thinking that “It is not good for the man to be alone;” (Genesis 2:18, 25), and then went on to explain how they would form a union “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
The beginning of the sentence “leave his father and his mother” indicates that upon reaching adulthood, man is ready to be independent and stand on his own two feet, he is no longer a dependent but ready to support his own family. The term “cleave to his wife” indicates the formation of a bond, another words he enters into a contract with the woman of his choosing that they will be loyal to one under all circumstances. The term “one flesh” does not only refer to the sexual union but the whole relationship in a married life, where the sexual union is just one aspect of that relationship.
In part God’s plan for a Christian marriage is that it needs to be a living lesson that teaches mankind about Christ’s love for the church. Unfortunately, sin came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, and things changed, so it is that the union of a man and a woman is subject to pressures. It is for this reason that it is important that the couple harmonize their thoughts and feelings and stay committed. They need to live in peace and grow together so any temptations can be overcome (What does the Bible say about marriage? ).
One major hurdle that stands in the way of an intimate relationship, the author feels is anger. Needless to say it is difficult to respond in a loving way is one is yelled at in anger. In order to have a nurturing marriage both partners must commit to companioning. If the partners in a marriage are going in their own directions then maintaining intimacy will be difficult. Being each other’s companion is essential to enjoying a marriage the way God meant it to be enjoyed. Marriage is not an instant acquisition of everything one desires in terms of love, but a process of continual dedication and commitment.
The actual work starts after the exchange of vows. Generally it is easy to forget that that the second person in a marriage is not an extension of one’s own desires but an individual with their own requirements and needs. A conscious effort has to be made to understand the other person in a marriage and to appreciate the various aspects of their personality Dr. Hawkins explains that it is the work of Satan to create the wedge between a man and his wife. Christ became the wedge eradicator by supplying the model for biblical commitment using the Holy Spirit.
Even when there is selfishness on the part of one individual, a couple can seek forgiveness and still accomplish God’s plans if the stay on with God. The book even has questions for couples so they can assess their current level of intimacy. Concrete responses A few years ago, when my business incurred major losses and I had to wind it up, and I came into tough times financially. The bills still needed to be paid; children’s tuition fees needed to be taken care of and all the while the creditors were knocking at the doors. Life suddenly became very difficult.
Changing one’s way of living and adjusting to a lower standard when you have enjoyed freedom from financial worries is not easy. I became very depressed and short tempered when I had no job to go to in the mornings, and explaining to the children why we couldn’t take a vacation this year was no easy task. The life we had taken for granted for such a long time suddenly came tumbling down around us. Although I was not a very religious person in my adult life simply because the more involved I became in my work the less frequently I went to church.
There was just never any time and slowly it just became normal not to go to church. It was my wife who stepped up to take charge when things hit rock bottom for us, and encouraged me to attend church, meet other people who were in similar situation after losing their jobs. During those months she kept the family going by not only taking over the financial obligations, because she still had her job, but she had the presence of mind to make me sit with her and plan how we were going to budget things so we could manage in what we had.
What was surprising to me about that whole time period was that my wife and I actually got closer than I ever imagined. Just talking and planning night after night, being able to unload my worries on her actually made me feel lighter. Her words of encouragements when a job interview did not go well or when I got a “no” for an answer from a prospective boss, gave me the strength to keep trying. During the time when I saw relationships falling apart due the constraints put on them, mine actually got better.
If I had not lived through it myself, I would never have believed that under such difficult financial circumstances one can be so happy. True to the teaching of the Bible, she is indeed my “azar”, who completed me. Obviously both of us wanted the same thing, to be able to meet out financial obligations but the fact that we could sit together and chart a course for our future instead doing it separately, provided each of us the companionship needed. Reflection What I find absolutely amazing about the content of this book is the simplicity of it all.
It does not take a rocket scientist to understand the simple fact that if you are there for your family when they need you nothing else is necessary. This is such a simple concept, maybe that’s why people miss it. The fact that I could tell my wife and children that we no longer had what I spend years building actually relieved a lot of my tension, and cleared the air. The issue was not whose fault it was, but that it is gone and what are we going to do now? What was even more surprising was their reaction and willingness to work together to pull ourselves out of the mess.
True commitment and companionship is what is need for a great marriage. Unfortunately society and persistent advertisements will have us believe that we need more material possessions, or we need expensive products to make us look beautiful or more appealing to our partners. A marriage is not good if the husband is working late and the wife is out with the girls, and they come together in the bedroom for the night. Spending the evening with your partner listening and discussing the events of the day sets the mood for the night.
Be true soul mates first is what the Bible tells us to do, that is what Dr. Hawkins is promoting in this book, and that is what I found in my personal life actually works. Application It seems our priorities as a society are misplaced, instead of family first we are all going after that bigger car or house first thinking that family will be there once we acquire these things. What we don’t realize is that while we go towards our materialistic goals we move away from our life partners. Although I discovered this by accident, this book spells it out in very simple language.
The first change I am going to bring in my life is to pace myself better. This means coming home so there is time to spend with the family and saving Sunday for church and friends. Second major transformation that I want to bring in myself is to be more supportive of my wife’s dreams. There is a big difference between agreeing with someone and allowing them to do what they want and being supportive, encouraging, and interested in their day to day progress and successes. I was the former I want to be the latter.