Whether you’re just recently engaged or married for 40 years, this could be one of the most important things you could do as a couple!
Borrowing concepts from an ancient Jewish legal document, couples today could have healthier and less stressful relationships.
I believe that couples could avoid many of their problems if they would openly and honestly DISCUSS and DOCUMENT their EXPECTATIONS for one another. These expectations should probably be revisited and amended as time goes on and people’s needs and expectations change.
The Ketubah is a staple in the Jewish wedding ceremony, but many couples today don’t even know what it is! The earliest extant ketubah dates from circa 440 BC found in Egypt and written on papyrus
I believe if the concept could be modified to serve as a relationship tool today, the Ketubah’s primary objective would to be a means of communication and loving accountability with one another.
HOW TO GET STARTED:
Separately, the couple should make a list of expectation TOPICS that are important to THEM. For example:
* Individual professional goals
Once you both have the List of Topics, you can separately write what your expectations are for each topic. If one person puts little or no value on a particular topic that the other does, no expectation NEED be written. It would not be uncommon for each person to have differing expectations and/or priorities. It is more important to KNOW, HONOR and RESPECT them, then for them to share them or desire them too.
Now that both of you have your expectations for the List of Topics, it is time to come together and share them.
This should be done in a “date-night” atmosphere…with the understanding that these are not edicts or demands, but simply what each of you deems important and expects. The quote, “Seek to understand before asking to be understood” would be appropriate here. The discussion should be limited to sharing expectations, NOT how well the expectations have been met to date.
Hopefully, the sharing will be done without conflict. If, however, things get contentious, it would be a good time to end the discussion, and look at another time to resume talking; possibly with a trusted third-party “mediator.”
In a perfect world, the couple would then be prepared with a list of expectations that they could be intentional in making sure are met for the other. Notice I said for the other…like the 5 Love Languages, they may not be important to us, but they are important to the other person. To truly feel loved and appreciated, it needs to be conveyed in THEIR “language,” not ours. (We tend to show love to others in the way we feel loved, irregardless of whether they feel loved by the things we do). The same is true with expectations.
Since we live in a fallen world, and none of us is perfect, there is a chance that an expectation might not be met. The couple now has a written list of things they both understood are important to, and expected from, the other to refer to.
WHAT TO DO IF EXPECTATIONS AREN’T MET:
In the event that one or the other refuses to live up to an expectation, they now can follow the Biblical steps of rectifying the situation, found in Matthew 18:15-17…
* If your husband or wife doesn’t live up to an agreed upon expectation, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
* if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
* If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector*. (This means you would LOVE them with the intent of redeeming, restoring, and healing the relationship…but with an unwilling partner-and possibly from a distance)
THE HISTORY OF KETUBAH:
The traditional and historical ketubah is a binding legal document, which catalogs a husband’s obligations to his wife, such as providing his wife with food, clothing, and conjugal rights, which are inseparable from marriage. It includes the husband’s guarantees to pay a certain sum in the event of divorce, and inheritance rights obligatory upon his heirs in case he dies before his wife. It is really the religious equivalent to the contemporary pre-nuptial agreement of secular civil law.
It was not a mutual agreement; the wife agrees only to accept the husband’s proposal of marriage. It is assuredly not a bill of sale; the man does not purchase the bride. In fact, the ketubah represents the witnesses rather than husband or wife. Through this instrument they attest to the groom’s actions, promises, and statements, and to the bride’s willing acceptance of the marriage proposal.
POSSIBLE APPLICATION OF KETUBAH IN SCRIPTURE:
“If your brother or sister sins [doesn’t live up to agreed upon expectation], go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17 [edited for purposes of our discussion]
*HOW TO TREAT ENEMIES, PAGANS AND TAX COLLECTORS ACCORDING TO JESUS:
““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”