Wish "Merry Christmas" to Your Spouse First

Pam and Bill Farrel

Among the Christmas songs I grew up hearing was “Mele Kalikimaka” (the Hawaiian way to say Merry Christmas). In our newest book, A Couple’s Journey with God devotional, we share how on a ministry trip to the islands, we learned another vital phrase. In the Hawaiian language there is a term, “Kuleana” which means your “path” or “posse” - those people to whom and for whom you are responsible. It is your accountability system. We like to call it your successnet. Picture walking the tightrope of life, these are the people who are carrying the net under your life in case you fall. They include family, who really know you, friends who walk beside you, your children and grandchildren and anyone who looks up to you. Also included are any mentors or leaders who have poured into you. 

And it definitely includes your spouse. 

A smart couple will have a large kuleana, and a kuleana they can be real, honest and authentic with. One verse that points to the priority of fellowship or kuleana is: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Some call this kind of honest fellowship an accountability system even though the Bible doesn’t use the exact word “accountability.” But there are some words that give the strong idea that God thinks accountability is vital:

Fellowship (or Koinonia) means an association based upon a common bond, with willing participation and sharing.  Tue fellowship involves authenticity, which can involve two key words.

Exhortation means “called alongside to bring out the best in another.” 

Admonish is “to put in mind” and carries the idea of putting the right thoughts into the minds of others 

So it seems God wants us all to have a group, a fellowship, of people we walk alongside, and who walk alongside us. And while we are journeying together, we are to put the right thoughts into each other’s minds.  

Many ask Bill and me, “What is the strength of your relationship?” We have to say we are Kuleana to each other first. We honestly share when we are struggling with something. Too many people keep hidden sins, negative thoughts, and unresolved feelings from their spouse—sometimes even with good intentions, saying “I don’t want to hurt him / her.” While we always think it is wise to talk to God first, then whomever God directs you to get counsel from, often your mate can be one of the best people to use as a sounding board in a struggle because he or she knows you best. 

Bill and I are responsible to each other in so many areas. How we spend (or save) money, what we watch on TV or listen to or read, how we raise our children, and all our spiritual disciplines: prayer, Bible study, exercise, using our gifts, worship, and yes, the Koinonia or Kuleana of building a successnet together. Because we talk honestly about what God is teaching us, what the Holy Spirit is convicting us to do, say or how God wants us to live to better reflect his glory, we are drawn to each other like magnets.

When we were dating, our entire Kuleana or Koinonia friendship circle would greet each other with, “Hi! How are you? What’s God been teaching you?” Just asking that question was true Kuleana because it means we were responsible for learning something from God daily so we’d have an answer to the question! Bill and I continue this habit in our own private spiritual lives. 

This holiday, before you give a tie or a coffee pot to your friends or family, think, "what Christian book, audio, or video might help them grow with God?" Since we are responsible to put the right thoughts in each other’s minds as we walk alongside them, take this wonderful opportunity to give a gift that might just change his or her life for the better. Then look for opportunities over the Christmas season to have heart-to-heart talks with each person in your Kuleana.  Today, take a walk with your mate or sit down for some “Kona” (coffee), ask “So what’s God been teaching you?” and have some Kuleana.

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Bill and Pam Farrel are relationship experts, authors of over 37 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti10 Best Decisions series (for couples, parents, men, women, singles, grads), and their newest devotional, A Couple’s Journey With God.  Free articles and books and resources by the Farrels can be found at www.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/YakobchukOlena