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Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. — Ecclesiastes 4:9,10
Recently we had the privilege of meeting with a couple married over sixty years—and he had served in three wars. He also was a POW in Vietnam for over six years. Their love and commitment to each other was evident in their story, in their smiles for each other, and in the way (during the interview), they held each other’s hand. This picture is of their loving clasp.
They told us that they hold hands often, and everywhere they go.
It reminded me of two specific things: 1) Marriage help #1 in Jim & Barbara Grunseth’s book Remember the Rowboats: Anchor Your Marriage to Christ states in the chapter “Seven Ropes to Tie Two Boats” to “Hold Hands Everywhere”. The first time I read that, I thought, “really?”
And 2) In Dennis & Barbara Rainey’s classic book Two Hearts Praying as One, they include a suggestion about holding hands when praying together silently as a way to get started in the discipline of praying together.
You know, truly I never had thought much about holding hands. I had always liked it when my husband reached for my hand when we were walking, or together in a public place. But I hadn’t given it the attention that I should have, until I read the Grunseth’s book. Here’s what they say about keeping a marriage together:
“In addition to the essential requirement of the Lord Jesus being the faithful, strong Anchor of your marriage, Barbara and I want to get real practical with you. Couples that come in for biblical counseling have none of the following seven ropes tying their two rowboats together. . . Couples with teachable and humble hearts that tie their marriage with these seven ropes do not break up. They have disciplined themselves in obedient surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. They have chosen to hold fast together and let nothing get in between them. Nothing!” (p. 65)
The next fourteen pages list seven “ropes”, the first one being “Hold Hands Everywhere”:
“Some people think this concept is shallow and silly. It does not matter what they think. It works! We teach couples to hold hands when walking, shopping, and sitting in church, even attending funerals! Remember God has called you and your mate to be as one. Show it. . . When you hold hands, you are telling the world:
- You are in love.
- God was right in bringing you two together.
- You are fulfilling God’s plan by filling each other’s gaps (hands clasped together).
You need each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
- You want to honor God by your commitment to each other.” (p. 66,67)
The tip from the Raineys in Two Hearts Praying as One was also eye-opening in my exploration of the power of holding hands. A fellow missionary couple with whom we work uses this little book in all of their marital counseling. The first chapter states: “Praying together may be the single most important spiritual discipline you and your spouse will ever share.” (p. 9)
But the nugget about holding hands while praying together was tucked away in one of the last chapters entitled “Tips from Praying Couples”:
“One of the simplest ways to pray together is to hold hands and pray silently. After each is through, squeeze the other’s hand. Anyone can do it, and it often helps guide the couple into a deeper prayer life.” (p. 64)
Perhaps you are thinking—“my spouse is deployed, so how can we pray together? And we certainly can’t hold hands!” Well, it’s time to think spiritually with some creativity.
Type out your prayers on email, a hand-written letter, or ending a phone conversation with “How can I pray for you today?” or “Let’s pray, right now. . . Dear Heavenly Father. . .” Yes, it works.
And a military wife recently told me that she couldn’t wait for her husband to come home so that they could be together . . . and to hold hands. I don’t usually hear something like that, so I was a bit surprised. She told me that she loves it when her husband holds her hand—and she has missed that.
So I would think a simple sentence of encouragement like “I love it when we hold hands. Can’t wait for you to get home!” would be a message that would brighten a military day.
Grunseth, Jim & Barbara, Remember the Rowboats: Anchor Your Marriage to Christ (Minneapolis: River City Press, Inc., 2008)
Rainey, Dennis & Barbara, Two Hearts Praying As One (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2002)
Questions to Share:
1. Do you remember the first time when you held hands as a couple? Share that memory with each other.
2. Pray with each other to be strengthened in your marriage, even when geographically separated.