Living in a joint family has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let me begin with my own experience of living in a joint family. Both my brothers work for call-centers; their wives (accustomed to their timings) are the last to enter the Kitchen in the mornings.

However occasionally when one of my brothers wants an early breakfast, they are the first to enter the kitchen and leave before the others could get up. In the event the breakfast on that particular day is dosa or idily then there is a problem. If salt has been added to the flour, how will the next person know so as to keep the flour from being salted again?

To solve this puzzle the three daughters-in-law came up with a novel idea. If anyone of them adds salt to the flour, then they would leave the salt jar touching the vessel with the flour. The person who comes next will know that salt has been added and need not add salt again. Good understanding breeds good adjustments and adaptations.

This trait is all the more essential when it comes to the special relationship shared between two people called marriage. Most cases ha hndled today by marriage counselors usually turns out to be problems with understanding and adjustments. Many a times it is how a person interprets his / her spouse’s actions or words that raises a problem. More so when they think they heard something that was never said. When they become aware of what actually was said and the intent behind them, they look like fools for making a mountain of molehill.

The two things that are the key in a marriage to keep it strong and going are communication and humility of mind.

Every marriage brings out similar situations that if not handled properly would boomerang and destroy the marriage itself. Every spouse is right and wrong in their own grounds, but usually ends with too much of salt that leaves a bad taste for everyone.

It is essential that every couple have a time of interaction on a daily basis. Today most of the interactions are only information sharing. It needs to be more than that. Every husband needs to know the daily (especially emotional) needs of his wife so he can meet it. And every wife needs to know the struggles of her husband so she can be a pillar of support to him. This is possible only when communication goes beyond information sharing to the sharing of hearts. “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established,” (Proverbs 24:3 NASB).

Some ways to do this is to set aside some time every day to talk. It can either be after coming home from work while relaxing with a cup of tea and snacks. If there are children and it is a joint where this is not possible for some reasons, then it can be done after everyone is gone to sleep. The best way to end this time is to pray for each other and for the various concerns shared. Another thing to do is to have a combined time of devotions / prayer time every morning and praying for each other for the day ahead.

Humility of mind
“…but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself,” (Phil 2:3, NASB). The implication of this verse can never be greater than in the context of marriage. Communication can bring understanding in a marriage, but it needs humility of mind to carry it further. Unless a husband or wife is humble, they will only look to their own needs and be wallowing in selfishness.

Every marriage where each or even one of the partners is ego-centric, it is definitely heading towards trouble. Most of the problems seen in marriages basically boils down to the questions, “He/She does not understand me”, “I wish my husband/wife gives me more time… etc.” We are faced with an “I, me, myself” generation.

Paul exhortation in Philippians is clinical. He goes on to say, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others, (Phil 2:4, NASB). If only every married couple learns to look to the interests of the other, every home would look like the Garden of Eden. Every husband needs to look to help his wife develop & use her talents. It can either be in the work place, home, church or in the neighbourhood. Every wife needs to encourage her husband to do whatever he does, better and best.

And the greatest example to emulate this humility is the person of the Godhead Himself – Jesus Christ. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” (Phil 2:5, NASB). Who left His glory in the heavens and took the form of a servant to redeem mankind.

May we also look forward to keep strong communications going in our marriages and also make humility the controlling factor that truly our marriages can be said to be – “Made in Heaven”. So understanding helps in making a decision to adjust and adapt and humility helps us to follow through with that decision.

Copyright ã January 2007, Vinod Victor


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