By writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul has provided us with an analogy concerning the love of the husband for his wife and Christ’s love for His church (Eph. 5:22-33). The covenant of marriage was founded on the basis of mutual consideration and respect. Each partner has equal responsibilities to one another and to the Lord. The New Testament has elevated marriage to a high level, regarding both husband and wife worthy of equal honor because of Christ’s sacrifice.
The Christian couple is walking their Creator’s path to heaven together (I Peter 3:7). Marital co-habitation as a reciprocal relationship perfectly mirrors the Lord’s purpose for His Church.
Most of our First Nations place a high value on happiness. Native marital happiness grows from mutual respect. A married person is responsible for the happiness of their mate. The times your spouse may need your understanding may be when you feel the least sensitive. Each should seek to discover common ground, and then stand in the moccasins of the other.
Jesus spoke many encouraging words. Encouragement is one of the most powerful forces in a Native home. Fill your dwelling place with encouraging words, for your mate may not hear them at the workplace. Always give your undivided attention to your sweetheart. Sincerity is essential, for Natives tend to quickly spot what is superficial. Really listening is the highest form of praise you can offer and helps to increase mutual respect. You will win the battle for the affection of the other as you resolve to see the best in them.
Be quick to apologize, even when you feel you are right. Let the other save face. Don’t embarrass, suppress or belittle the other. Verbal arrows are irretrievable. Remain tactful, courteous, respectful and sensitive. Minimize your mate’s deficiencies and maximize their giftedness. Encourage freedom of expression and communication. Initiate meaningful conversations. Among most tribes, appropriate vocal tone and body language are major factors in communicating respect to another individual. Value your Native heritage and keep an Indian heart.
Jesus never debases, abuses, oppresses, degrades or belittles His Church. Therefore, husbands must model His behavior. Wives are to obey their husbands as the Church obeys Christ and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His Church. No one is exempt from obligations except God Himself. Respect and honor from the wife and agape love from the husband are characteristics of the submission expected of all Christians in relationships. God desires a reciprocal love for each Native couple. Like an earthly marriage, our Savior’s relationship with us is based on mutual respect, honor and responsibility. We are always on safe and holy ground when we promote God’s Word as our ultimate marriage manual.
Published in Indian Life, May/June 2006