Harvey and Irma Part 1… What Keeps a Marriage Together

Genesis 2:24 “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.”

Since 1979, the National Hurricane Center has used men’s and women’s names for tropical storms that begin in the Atlantic Ocean. We have just seen an unprecedented event: within one month, two hurricanes that have hit the United States. And the names that came up in the rotation? The Category 4 hurricane that hit Texas on August 28 was named ‘Harvey’ and has been called the worst natural disaster in Texas history. Then, on September 10, Category 4 hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys and moved up through Florida, leaving devastation in its path. Whenever a hurricane leaves this much damage, its name is retired from the list. So this will most likely be the last time Harvey and Irma are used in tandem for hurricanes.

But there is another Harvey and Irma that have been capturing headlines. Harvey and Irma Schluter, of Spokane, WA, celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this past March. They have been appearing in tandem since 1942! Harvey is 104 years old and Irma turns 93 in November. When they were asked their most rewarding life achievement, they said being foster parents to over 120 children in their lifetime, many of whom were physically or mentally disabled. When they were also asked the secret to staying together for so long, Irma simply said “It’s not hard – not at all.”

In Genesis 2:24-25, the Bible gives a more detailed answer to that question. First of all, have you noticed that Genesis 2:24-25 is not part of any conversation between God and Adam? Since Adam and Eve had no mother and father, God isn’t directing these words at them. This verse is the earliest statement ever made on what marriage is meant to be, given to Moses as God’s four guidelines for all marriages throughout time. So if we ever find ourselves in the middle of a marital conflict, you can bet that one of these four guidelines has been ignored or violated. They are the foundation for domestic harmony. In this week’s article, we will dig into the first two, and finish next week with the last two.

The first of the four guidelines is ‘severance’. Genesis 2:24 says “a man shall LEAVE his father and mother”. This directive from God to leave the parents means to sever the tight, emotional parent-child bond that has provided security, protection, financial assistance and physical needs. God makes this the first rule, before He talks about husband and wife cleaving to each other. But there is also an obligation to the parents – they must verbalize their willingness to release their parental authority and entrust their child to the new home they are starting in marriage. Otherwise the child is never free to cultivate an intimate relationship with their husband or wife.

The second guideline is ‘permanence’. Genesis 2:24 goes on to say that after the man leaves his parents he is to “be joined to his wife”. The literal translation is “to adhere to, cement or weld together, such that separating requires determined force and results in severe damage to each one that was joined together”.
It is the same word used to describe what happens when a person decides to follow Jesus Christ as their God and Savior. For example, in Deuteronomy 30:20 God tells those in Israel who will trust in Him that “…you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling (be joined) to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.”

The idea is a whole-hearted separation from all else and a separation to your spouse. Marriage requires an inseparable, permanent joining of husband and wife throughout their lifetime. There is no sense in leaving behind your family unless you are ready to cleave to your lifetime mate. In today’s culture in America, the problem is that couples often enter marriage believing it can be terminated. The part of the marriage vows of “till death do us part” is viewed as a formality, not an oath made before God. So if you are married and want to add strength to your marriage, every once in a while make a point to look each other in the eye and reaffirm your commitment to each other by restating your love and devotion to each other forever.

Harvey and Irma spent much of their retirement traveling around in their motor home visiting their foster children and their families. Maybe this is a secret to their 75 years together and counting – in their inseparable union to one another, they have a like-minded passion for putting others needs before their own. In any healthy marriage, each spouse must put the other’s welfare before their own in order to ensure mutual love and commitment between them. This is God’s intention in Genesis 2:24. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left destruction and death in their brief life, but Harvey and Irma Schluter’s legacy is a lifetime union of serving one another and others. Couples today can learn much from them.

“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #260

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