When my husband and I got married, he thought he was marrying into a great family, but almost as if a switch had flipped, two months later, my family drama exploded. Ever since, it has been miserably messy. My parents are divorcing. My sister got pregnant and moved in with her non-Christian boyfriend who has no job. My brother keeps getting into debt that we have been bailing him out of. I feel terrible that my husband and I have been sucked into this nasty drama. I can tell my husband is starting to feel very drained. What should I do?
In a Messy Family
Dear In a Messy Family,
Unfortunately, no matter what point in marriage one is, the tides can dramatically shift at any point. We often cannot foresee such heartache. However, the beautiful promise that God gives us is that he can turn our sorrow into joy. There is potential in this situation—potential to grow closer together in marriage despite adversity. The devil sees the havoc in your lives right now, but you need to determine to cling to one another and seek God daily. (If you haven’t made it a habit already, start praying together daily. It spiritually unites you and refreshes you in the Lord).
A very important element of marriage is the Leave & Cleave concept. The Bible says, “a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Most people think of this verse in terms of a mother-in-law who is very loving and doting and doesn’t allow her kids to grow up; however, this verse can be viewed in a very different way. If your (now extended) family is taking up the majority of your time and efforts away from your own nuclear family (you, your husband and your kids), then you have not cleaved in your marriage. In order to help address outside family issues, you need to be ONE first. For one is more difficult to divide than two. We are called as Christians to minister to others, but marriage should be your number one ministry. You have to nurture your own family so that it does not fall into shambles while you are trying to fix the other problems.
A few ways you can give your marriage the rest and respite it requires is by making sure you have designated time unplugged from the family. Carve out time to focus on each other and serve your husband who may be feeling neglected. Again, pray together daily, as mentioned above. But most of all, have fun together. If you need to take a vacation or plan a date night, do not feel guilty. Often when we are pouring out our ministry to others, we forget to minister to the one who truly matters most, our spouse. This could be a beautiful growth opportunity in your own marriage!
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