A study from Los Angeles found that couples in North America communicate with each other for an average of about 35 minutes per week. This is mainly about organizational matters. Barely half an hour of “conversation” per week is a rather meager balance. Certainly, it doesn’t look like this in every relationship, but perhaps the result of this study is a good starting point to make us think. Is the presence of our partner something we take for granted, and has it become routine? How often and how long do we consciously talk to each other? The biggest challenge is certainly to create undisturbed moments. In this digital age with smartphones (cellphones), news, and a true flood of information, it has become difficult because we are constantly challenged to distinguish between important and unimportant. We are often distracted and stressed from many sides. With the following thought-provoking points, we can consciously maintain and strengthen our marriage in very practical ways.
I. Regular time off
We responsibly mark dates in our calendar for important people. We set priorities and even move things around that are important to us. We should do the same for our partner. After a long “to-do list,” we are usually no longer in a position to make time for our partner. We are tired and exhausted and prefer our rest. How beneficial it would be if we did not put our spouse at the back but consciously planned time for them. Relationships should be nourished regularly. An outing, a walk; there are many possibilities. Such time together relaxes and encourages us to address problems and share what is on your mind.
II. Supporting your partner
Every person takes on tasks throughout the changing phases of life, be it in marriage, in the family, at work, in the community, or in other areas. How do spouses support each other in these tasks? Are they an obstacle or a help to each other? How is the husband respected by his wife? What appreciation does the wife receive from her husband? How does he express this appreciation? How much do the husband and wife know about the challenges and difficulties of the other and support them in word and deed and in prayer? In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, we read an impressive text that wonderfully emphasizes the coherence of marriage. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up…Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
These verses are applicable to both our daily and spiritual tasks. No man or woman is perfect in this relationship. But a wife who is a true help to her husband complements him, tactfully correcting his mistakes without him noticing. The husband supports, encourages, and protects his wife. This mutual help makes everyone more valuable in the family and in the outside world.
III. Setting Common Goals
It is of great importance that a married couple set common goals, both short- and long-term. Shaping their common future unites them. A couple who works together as a team in planning and implementing these goals is more effective and far more successful. But it is even more beautiful to work hand in hand in the kingdom of God. A married couple experiences deep fulfillment in common faith and service to the Lord.
We find an exemplary married couple in Priscilla and Aquila.
In Acts 18, we learn that at the time of the apostle’s first visit to Corinth, Aquila, a Jew born in Pontus, had recently arrived there with his wife Priscilla. They had to change their place of residence because Emperor Claudius had issued a decree that all Jews had to leave Rome.
Aquila, like Paul, was a tentmaker by profession, and during his stay in Corinth of about eighteen months, the apostle practiced his trade together with his newly-won friends. From Luke’s narrative (Acts 18:18), it is clear that Aquila and Priscilla had stayed there the whole time Paul was in Corinth and did not leave the city until the apostle sailed for Syria. They accompanied him and crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Europe to Asia Minor, because afterwards their presence is noted in Ephesus (Acts 18:26). There, they showed a personal interest in the spiritual welfare of Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew. They took him to their home to give him a more accurate explanation of the way of God, for he knew only the baptism of John the Baptist.
This event in Ephesus seems to characterize the nature of their common service to the Lord. Apollos was thus introduced to the warm atmosphere of their Christian home. Here, Aquila and his wife talked to him face-to-face, with all frankness and zeal, about the work, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, as well as the many truths connected with it.
In Aquila and Priscilla, we have a clear example of the blessed and effective influence that can come from a couple dedicated to the interests of Christ. They are always mentioned together, as Priscilla (Prisca) and Aquila, but never alone.
Throughout the history of mankind, we can see that marital union has been used time and again for bad purposes. Even in the first days of gathering as a church, Ananias and Sapphira, misled by Satan, had agreed to tempt the Spirit of the Lord. Deceived in the same way, equally guilty, they were both punished in the same way (Acts 5:1-11).
Compared to this example of marital corruption in Jerusalem, the joint behavior of Aquila and Priscilla is a beautiful contrast. They did not look so much at their affairs but at what concerned the others. Their inclination and willingness to sacrifice was so striking that it impressed the churches everywhere.
This couple realized that they were “one flesh,” not only in tentmaking and other earthly matters, but above all in being one “in Christ,” displaying the fruit of the Spirit. They were convinced that the things of the Lord must always take precedence. Each one bettered the other, and the other complemented the deficiency of the other. In this way, each was the counterpart and counterweight of the other, always one in purpose and one in execution.
In the letter addressed to the beloved of God in Rome, the apostle added a special greeting to the assembly in the house of Priscilla and Aquila: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila… the church that is in their house” (Romans 16:3, 5).
To make tents, Aquila needed a sufficiently large house with rooms for his work and chambers for his private accommodation. Obviously, one or more rooms were made available for the meetings of the brothers and sisters. This fact was known to Paul when he wrote to the faithful in Rome, and he sent this greeting to those who gathered in Aquila’s house.
Aquila and Priscilla showed the same interest in the welfare of the saints in Ephesus as they did in Rome. From Ephesus, Paul wrote to Corinth: “Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Corinthians 16:19). This admirable couple dedicated their home to the service of the Lord, both in Rome and in Ephesus.
May this God-fearing, zealous, and happy couple be an example and inspiration to us all.
Lilly Bebernik, Edmonton (CA)