Written by: John Malanga & Cynthia St. John
We got married in 2015 after having both been previously married. Now, as we shelter at home during this pandemic, we are seeing the disheartening reports of increased domestic violence in our area and around the country. We have both personally experienced the pain and damage caused by divorce and family breakup. Recognizing that strengthening marriages and families is so important right now, we are offering these suggestions for how you can strengthen and grow yours.
1. REDEEM THE TIME – Reframe your attitude about the additional time spent at home with your spouse and children. Rather than thinking that you are “cooped up” and suffering from “cabin fever”, instead consider using this time as a gift from God to spend time loving and sharing and doing life together with your family. We have taken several walks along the Trinity Trails since we have been working from home. Although we would love to see more social distancing along the trails, these walks and talks have been rewarding for us both. The next time you want to watch another Netflix show, stop, turn off the television or laptop and go for a walk with your spouse.
2. FAMILY CLUSTER – Now that the churches’ Sunday service is fully online, we have formed a family cluster to gather on Sundays for these services. We watch the services together, take communion, and offer prayers. Cynthia’s son, and even the family dog, join our family cluster. While we miss seeing our friends on Sundays, in some ways we find the family cluster to be even more rewarding.
3. DRAW NEAR TO GOD – The Bible says that as we draw closer to God, he draws closer to us. Make the time every day to read the Bible and pray over one another. Each day, John will lay his hand on Cynthia and lift her up to God and pray for her continued blessing. If your children are of the appropriate age, you should include them in these activities. There’s no better way to strengthen your family’s relationship with God and commitment to one another than to pray for each other.
4. INVITE THE SPIRIT OF PEACE – Pray daily for the spirit of peace to reign in your household. We specifically pray that everyone in the household’s heart is filled with peace and harmony. And we expressly rebuke any spirit of strife from entering the doors of our home. Try to get everyone in your household committed to praying for peace and rebuking strife. This is particularly true if you have children who are prone to squabbling.
5. SPEAK VICTORY INTO YOUR FAMILY – Every day, Cynthia makes a point of telling John that he is the best husband. John tells Cynthia daily that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world and how much he loves and appreciates her. Doing this day after day confirms for us the Bible passage that says, “Life is in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
6. WALK THE EXTRA MILE – When we are isolated at home, it is imperative that every member of the family do more than they normally would to keep the household running smoothly. Cynthia recently spent several hours sweeping and mopping the floors in the entire house. John is getting up very early once a week to go to the grocery store as soon as the doors open. And everyone is taking out the trash much more than they used to! Do this willingly and cheerfully, and it will be like greasing the wheels of the family’s rollers.
7. TRY THE 30-DAY RULE – Before snapping at your family member or criticizing something they have done, ask yourself this question: Will this issue be something that I will be concerned about 30 days from now? If the answer is no, consider holding your tongue and covering for your family member. Remember, the Bible calls on us to make allowances for each other’s fault. Often, we’re not aware that we are exhibiting equally annoying behaviors and others are overlooking and covering for us as well. Another benefit of the 30-day rule: it causes the practitioner of it to develop forbearance, which in turn promotes character.
If you are intentional about doing the things listed above, we believe and declare that you will emerge from this pandemic closer to each other as a couple and a family, closer to God, and better equipped to make Jesus known on your cultural street!