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Can keeping the Sabbath help your marriage?

Posted on November 27, 2018
Can keeping the Sabbath help your marriage?

Anyone who has read the Fourth Commandment, the one that begins “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” knows that it is a commandment specifically intended to help those who observe it.

By resting, and by honoring God, we are able to "recharge our batteries” and renew ourselves for the week ahead. Disconnecting from the world’s pursuits for that one day can shift the focus from our problems to God’s provision.

But can keeping the Sabbath help your marriage? More than one Christian thinker, writer, or minister has answered that question with a big “yes.”

Writing at Charisma magazine’s website, Dr. Doug Weiss asserts that honoring the Sabbath “may save your marriage.”

Weiss writes, “The person and marriage that does rest has created time for intentional relating. You can give time, attention and affection to your spouse and family during this day. …  A marriage that regularly obeys the command to rest will be less likely to burn out and behave poorly toward each other.”

What he says makes sense, of course. Married couples, especially those where both partners work, are often rushing from task to event to errand—sometimes passing like ships in the night. Add in the responsibility that raising children brings, and the demands on a marriage can seem never-ending.

That’s where the Sabbath comes in. Weiss says, “Adding intentional, consistent rest to your marriage can sustain your marriage over the decades. Doing nothing regularly is a plan to stay more content and relaxed in life and in marriage.”

As it turns out, Weiss isn’t unique in his appreciation for the Sabbath and its impact on family life. A young pastor, A.J. Swoboda, nearly burned himself out at the beginning of his career by being, he recalls, “A Christian handyman, available to everyone and everything but the Lord my God.”

Nearly burned out, Swoboda said his family instituted Sabbathkeeping as a weekly routine: “One day a week, my family turns all the screens off, lights some candles, prays, and invites the God of the Sabbath to bring us rest. This practice, which, again, we do far from perfectly, has saved my marriage, my ministry, my faith, and, I might even say, my life.”

While Swoboda’s story doesn’t discuss the Bible’s command to honor the seventh day as the Sabbath—something that hasn’t changed since Sinai—he does acknowledge the need for rest as a component of a healthy marriage and home life.

That understanding is not limited to the religious world anymore: Entrepreneur and investor Aaron Edelheit, who wrote a book promoting a weekly “hard break,” or Sabbath, for people in business, told Forbes magazine that a day of rest is vital: “Overworking is bad for your health, mental health, productivity, creativity and personal relationships. Basically, you name it and overworking hurts it in the long run.”

And Nancy Sleeth, who with her husband engages in a “creation care” ministry, wrote that keeping the Sabbath was “the single best thing I’ve ever done for my marriage, my children, and my relationship with the Lord.”

It’s telling, perhaps, that not only was the Sabbath in existence before the Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, but also that the Sabbath was set apart by God after He created the first man and the first woman. Adam and Eve’s first full day together as a married couple—an “arranged” marriage if ever there was one—was the first Sabbath day. God made humans, united them as a couple, and then gave them a day of rest.

Might that not indicate how important God saw Sabbathkeeping for humans, but especially for married couples? Adam and Eve had a day to rest, to spend time in nature, and with each other. There were no demands on their time, no tasks to be completed, no deadlines hanging overhead. Instead, this was a day for them to spend connected to their Creator, and, again, to each other.

Again, consider the demands that today’s society often places on families. It can be a constant blur of activity with no seeming break, until the Sabbath rolls around. How wonderful is it to be able to “switch off” the go-go routine of daily living and spend time worshipping God!

God knew that people couldn’t just work nonstop, even before sin had entered the picture. But since Eden, and since the fall of man, society has often tried to thumb its nose at this common-sense principle—that people (and even working animals) need rest—always with tragic consequences. Being “worked to death” is not a mere expression, as history has sadly shown.

Sabbathkeeping is a powerful antidote to burnout and a wonderful help for married couples and families. It’s a day when such family connections are supposed to be emphasized, a day to spend in nature if possible, and a day to be together.

Our article Sabbath—A Family Day presents some important ideas on how to put a family emphasis into your Sabbath. And if you’re not observing the Bible Sabbath, the one that falls on the seventh day of the week, isn’t now a great time to start making that a priority?

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