Fruitful vs Functional MARRIAGE-What's The Difference??
A married friend of mine & I were talking the other day about her marriage. She's been contemplating ending her marriage and for right now she and her husband have been sleeping in separate rooms. In our talk, my friend mentioned that this seemed to be quite the norm lately with several couples she knows and was this wrong? These couples, much like her have decided to stay married for the sake of the children, but logistically, they live separate lives, sleeping in different bedrooms and managing the household more like business transactions.
I suggested to her that, while the sacrifice to stay under the same roof for the sake of the children was commendable, as so many couples nowadays just “jump ship” leaving behind several casualties of war-primarily the children, they have now entered into a functional marriage, but far from a fruitful marriage.
As I was discussing this with her, I gave her this example. If I decided to plant an apple tree in my back yard, it would be because at some point I am expecting this tree to produce apples so I can enjoy eating the fruit. Most people plant a fruit tree, expecting the tree to bear fruit at some time. Does the tree serve other purposes? Absolutely....It can provide shade. It can be a nice home for squirrels. It may be great to look at in a once desolate and empty back yard, all very functional purposes, but until the tree produces what it was made to produce, it is not a fruitful tree.
This analogy can also be true for marriage. Unfortunately, many people marry for functional reasons, such as what they may benefit from. for example, companionship, sex on a regular basis, financial support...all very functional reasons, but seldom do people marry in anticipation of how they will develop a fruitful marriage. What's the difference, you may ask? Well let's see.
In Genesis 1:27, 28, the bible says “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
So many marriages have physically fulfilled this directive from God, because as we all know, there are many, many children on this earth! Reproducing life is a blessing from God and represents the first part of this admonishment of being fruitful -physically, but what about emotionally and spiritually? We have the children, great, but is that it? Absolutely not! There are many, many other references in the bible that speak to the emotional and spiritual fruit that marriage is supposed to bear, but so little emphasis or preparation is made for this part.
Emotionally and spiritually, for example, the bible tells wives in His word in Ephesians 5:22 , “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ”. For the hubbies, God says in His word, “The husband provides leadership to his wife the way that Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing”..(Message Translation). Again, the emotional fruit for hubbies is their admonishment in verse 25, “Husbands, go all out in love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church, a love marked by giving, not getting..”. These are just a few examples, but there are so many more in God's word.
I suspect, so many marriages have failed to be fruitful emotionally and spiritually because it's not even on their radar to expect this kind of fruitfulness within their marriage. To do so would require intentional & deliberate desire to learn how. It would require each to seek after a deep relationship with Jesus Christ-for real...not for show. It would require pre-marriage preparation wherein each individual takes a deeper look at their potential role of husband and wife as God ordained, and seek council on how to interpret this behaviorally and practically within their marriage.
Let's not forget that God is the creator of marriage, so to get your marriage to a fruitful place emotionally and spiritually would require you to go back to the Creator. Derrick & I had to do so earlier in our marriage, but it didn't come without first repenting for not initially being intentional and deliberate about going to God for guidance and instructions on our roles in the first place.
The good news is that it's never too late to get it right. Forgiveness and grace may be needed, but isn't that what God has already extended to us anyway? Why not extend to our spouse what God has already given us in abundance?
May you be successful in your quest to learn how to have a fruitful marriage and if you already have children- the physical manifestation of your fruitfulness, they will then become the recipients of the fruit your emotional and spiritual marital growth. Children are our legacy, so isn't it imperative to have a fruitful marriage?
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