I’m thrilled to have my good friend, Jodie Berndt, guest blog for me today!
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“Marriage is glorious but hard.”
That’s how Timothy Keller opens his book, The Meaning of Marriage. I think it’s a great book, and I love to give it to newly engaged couples, but I always do so a bit apologetically, like I know they might rather have something from Pottery Barn. Nobody wants to confront the tricky areas of marriage right out of the gates.
But Keller is right—marriage is hard. And not just for newlyweds. Marriage can also be tough for parents of newlyweds, as we move from the front lines to the sidelines of our kids’ lives. I had to laugh the other day when a young bride told me that she wanted my new book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children. She didn’t have adult children (she didn’t yet have any children!); why did she want that particular book?
“I’m getting it for my mom,” she explained. “I love her so much—and she’s a wonderful mother—but she tends to be kind of…involved.”
I knew just what she meant! I have two married daughters, and letting them go—letting them leave our family and cleave to their husbands—hasn’t always been easy. There have been plenty of times when I’ve jumped in with advice, or offered unasked-for opinions, when a better tactic would have been to just pray.
One concern I had, early on, was how my girls—Hillary and Annesley—would mesh with their husbands’ families, and how Charlie and Geoff would fit into ours. Different traditions and backgrounds can sometimes create pressure points, and I wanted God to give the young couples patience and understanding with one another, as well as a sense of connectedness with their in-laws.
I found a wealth of helpful prayer prompts in Scripture.
For instance, I didn’t like to think of the biblical Ruth leaving her family, but I loved the way she honored her widowed mother-in-law, saying, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” I asked God to create that same sense of connection between Annesley and Hillary and their new mothers-in-law, one that would quickly let them all know that they had become each other’s “people.”
And I was impressed by the way Moses related to his father-in-law, Jethro. The two men clearly had a strong bond, and Jethro loved hearing about all the good things God had done in and through Moses. But when Jethro saw all the Israelites coming to Moses with their problems, he realized that his son-in-law was getting worn out. “The work is too heavy for you;” he said. “Listen now to me and I will give you some advice.”
Moses took Jethro’s counsel (which basically involved teaching the people God’s laws and appointing judges to settle their cases), and things ended well. I didn’t know if or when Geoff or Charlie would need to confide in my husband, but I figured the time would come, so I asked God to give them a Moses-and-Jethro relationship—one where the guys felt free to talk about their joys and their triumphs, but also to be honest about any struggles they might face, knowing that they could trust Robbie’s advice.
I don’t know how your family has been formed, or what your child’s particular leaving-and-cleaving challenges will be. I do know, however, that even the most well-suited couples, from the most similar backgrounds, will find themselves tested. It won’t always be easy. And as parents, we’ll want to help.
And we can. Through prayer. God knows what our kids need, and prayer is his invitation to us to join him in the work he is doing in their lives. You’ll find hundreds of biblically based prayers—prayers for your child’s marriage, and a host of other young adult needs—in the book. And if you’d like a keepsake-style Marriage Prayer, click here to download this card:
Marriage is glorious but hard. And so is parenting. But thanks be to God, he doesn’t ask us to go it alone. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask him (Matthew 6:8). Let’s come to him on behalf of our children. Let’s do our best parenting through prayer.
Jodie Berndt is the author of nine books, including the bestselling Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens, and the just-released Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children. A speaker and Bible teacher, Jodie encourages people to pursue joy, celebrate grace, and live on purpose. Find her weekly blogs, free printables, and other resources at JodieBerndt.com, or connect with Jodie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Jodie and her husband, Robert, have four grown children and two sons-in-law. They live in Virginia Beach but can often be found up the road in Charlottesville, Virginia, cheering for their beloved U.Va. Cavaliers.