Deuteronomy 24:5 says: “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.”
Have you ever read that verse and thought “do WHAT?”
I would say May/June (well really the whole summer) could be considered a “wedding season.” As I have put more thought into this verse, the more I have realized there is great wisdom in what it is saying.
I will preface this by saying I understand that not all can just take a year off from work. I did not. Dan did not. But. What if we were to take the principle behind the matter more seriously?
Ah, wedding bliss. I can chalk up our wedding day as one of the best days of my life. I have a horrible memory, but of our wedding day, I have such fond memories – and I remember so much of it! I remember the times of talking with family, taking pictures, laughing, getting ready, and even those times of just Dan and I, reflecting on what the day was about. I remember driving back to St. Joseph after our wedding and just thinking “we are MARRIED!” I still sometimes have to pinch myself and remind myself how blessed I am to be married to a man like Dan.
We went on a honeymoon to Mexico and when we got home, reality hit. The demands, bills, and daily life were waiting at our front door. Don’t get me wrong – our first year we loved and yet we learned SO much! I think back to that time and we had a lot going on. We both had just graduated, Dan had just started full-time as a youth director, I had just moved to a new town, we bought a house, and we got married. So many changes so quickly. Yet we continued to load the schedule.
After thinking about Deut. 24:5, I realized that maybe it was too much. Having recently moved, one of the biggest things Dan and I have been “protective” or aware of, is our schedule. We knew it would be easy to jump into anything and everything when we moved to Minnesota. The excitement of a new place. The excitement of new people. WE were excited. Learning from being overcommitted in the past, we knew we had to be careful. Not that we are anti-social or don’t want to do anything, we are conscious of the things we commit to. It is easy to say yes and harder to say no. But when yes becomes so easy and we say yes to everything, other things lack then. Dan and I really wanted to make sure we took time to adjust as a couple. Because this is such a new chapter in our life, I feel Deut. 24:5 has some application for us today, even after 7 years of marriage.
Why is it that when couples get married, they often get asked to do everything? What if we all consciously made the decision to invest in them, instead of expect things FROM them? What if we all allowed a year for them to just “be”? Marriage takes time. It takes work. And what could be more beautiful than respecting the time that it takes to get to know one another? Divorce rates are the same for Christian and non-Christian couples – is time together one of the reasons why?
I know the verse says “free to stay at home” – you could take that to mean not working. But what if we freed husbands from obligations and expectations so that they can bring happiness to their wives? In other words, freed couples from those expectations? I can think of numerous times where I have heard people say they are stepping away from a job or activity to spend more time with their family. Why do they get sometimes get grief or feel guilty and have to defend why they are choosing to step away? Then others try to convince them otherwise? I think we need to think of the value that this verse has.
Where are our priorities? WHAT are our priorities? What do we expect of others? What do you think about the Deuteronomy verse?
I am not saying these are the answers – these are just some words to chew on.
So as we enter another wedding season, think about your expectations of newlyweds – of young married couples. How can you influence them? How can you encourage them?