Genesis 2:24 describes God’s plan for marriage in a succinct, simple way: “And they shall become one flesh.” In recent weeks, we’ve been talking about this plan, which I call the Law of Possession.
A healthy marriage requires that everything be shared. When a husband and wife marry, they transfer the things they used to control as individuals into a union of “one flesh.” If they try to hold onto certain things outside that union—things like finances, behavior, and even relationships—problems occur.
This even applies to children, as I recognized when counseling Greg and Tamara (not their real names). Both had been married previously, and Tamara had two kids from her earlier marriage.
It is always a challenge when children are brought into a different family situation to live with a new stepfather or stepmother. Tamara’s children were not getting along with Greg.
We discovered two significant reasons for this.
First, Greg felt Tamara didn’t trust him enough with her kids to allow him to correct them or give input into their lives. She said she was trying to protect them—they had been hurt emotionally by the divorce from their father.
But Greg couldn’t understand why she could trust her own life to him but not the lives of her children. He had a point.
Second, Greg felt violated by the way Tamara’s children treated him. They knew he had no authority in their lives—since Tamara didn’t allow him that authority—and they took advantage of it. They were disrespectful and constantly disobedient.Any time Tamara confronted them about this behavior, the kids accused Greg of wrongdoing and worked hard to pit their mother and Greg against each other.
In the end, the children won. Tamara was caught between her kids’ confused feelings and her husband’s legitimate frustrations. Unfortunately, Tamara and Greg couldn’t work it out. They got divorced. Why? Because she refused to follow the Law of Possession.
Tamara was trying to form a union with Greg without bringing her children under that umbrella. But anything not submitted to joint ownership and control violates the marriage bond—even children.
I’ve counseled couples fighting about family, careers, sports, education, future plans, and many other issues, all because one spouse wished to control it while refusing to allow joint ownership and input.
A healthy, godly marriage is one in which everything is surrendered to the idea of “one flesh.” Not just children, or finances, or sexuality. Everything. This is so important I can’t stress it enough.
Don’t become a statistic. Don’t try to keep anything outside the marriage bond, because it just doesn’t work. Follow God’s plan and submit it to the shared control of your relationship with your spouse.