Tonights study centered on the difficulties we have fulfilling our responsibilities and commitments to our spouses and families despite the enormous time obligation we all have as practicing physicians. We began by expressing how we have experienced this conflict in our families. We shared the feelings of guilt and disappointment of missing important events in our children’s lives and how in some cases it has torn real rends in our relationships within the family.
We then read Eph 5:21-6:4. In this passage Paul describes what the relationship between a man and woman in a marriage ought to be. He also gives instruction on parenting and the importance of teaching our children the faith. We first looked at Vs 31 which emphasizes the concept of a man and woman sharing in a covenant. We talked about the meaning of that word as a binding, voluntary and permanent state. The point was made that this is much more than just proclaiming your love for each other. Society often sees love relationships as based on chemistry between the couple but Paul makes the point that it is really based on abiding commitment. We then shared how our marriages have held together despite the stresses of heavy work loads by becoming a team of two. This lead into the discussion of the earlier versus of the passage which speak about submission. We then talked about how we have experienced our spousal relationship not as one based on hierarchy but on mutuality.
Examples of problems that can arise from expectations of being the dominant member of the couple were discussed. It was pointed out that in this passage Paul makes the point that the marriage relationship is a pale imitation of the love that Christ has for each of us.
The importance of having Christ in the center of our marriages was discussed. If Christ is not in their life sometimes a husband or wife can come to expect their spouse to be their sole source of love and approval. This puts the spouse in the role that only God can fill. No matter how much a couple love each other there will always be times when the spouse can not fill every need and not love them in the way they need. This leads to disappointment in the marriage. Realize that Christ alone will be able to always love you and always forgive you and always see you through.
We finished the night with a brief discussion of Paul’s guidance to respect your parents, for children to obey their parents and for parents not to exasperate their children. We shared several instances in which we have felt we failed in this guidance and what the results have been. Lastly, we urged each other on concerning the last sentence in the passage – that being that we are to instruct our children in the faith. In society we often hear parents say they don’t teach their children any particular religion and that they are going to let them decide. It was agreed this is a sure way to raise a non-believing child. The importance of taking opportunities to do this were discussed.