Every time someone mentions marriage to me, I can’t help but think of Peter Cook’s performance in The Princess Bride. Of course, the heavy accent makes it a bit difficult to understand, so I will translate for you: “Marriage, is what brings us together today. Marriage, that blessed arrangement, that dream within a dream… And love, true love, will follow you forever. So treasure your love…”
One of the things that always fascinates me about weddings is how much time, energy, and money is spent preparing for the actual wedding. There is even a “reality” show called Bridezillas that documents the extravagance of those days. Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings and think the day should be special, but I wonder how much better people’s marriages would be if as much time, energy, and money that went into that one day would be spent on the rest of their lives. After all, marriage is “till death do us part,” and the wedding day is but one day in that time span. Some of the best advice I got before marrying my best friend was to keep pursuing her, keep dating her. So, for the past nine and a half years, I have done just that. We don’t have the perfect marriage, but we have a great one, by God’s grace.
Marriage relationships function smoothly when six guidelines are followed.
First, there needs to be commitment in marriage. Marriage works best when both the husband and wife are committed. Genesis 2:24 explains, “a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” In response to a question about divorce, Jesus responded, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended” (Matthew 19:3-8).
Second, respect is a vital guideline in marriage. Men, listen to God’s advice in 1 Peter 3:7: “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together.” Women, Ephesians 5:33: “So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Third, communication. Husbands and wives must talk to one another. Words must be encouraging and uplifting (1 Thessalonians 5:11), loving (John 13:34), peaceful (Mark 9:50), kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32). We also communicate with things besides words. Our attitude, actions, and emotions communicate how we feel. Women are generally better at emotions and feelings than men, but men, we must work on this. Your wife needs you to emotionally connect to her, and you need it too.
Fourth, there must be love. Men, “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” (Ephesians 5:25). There is also all of 1 Corinthians 13, the classic wedding day Bible text.
Fifth, there must be submission. The concept of submission has been perverted by society and abused by men and women to the point where it is rarely mentioned today. However, I propose that when properly exercised, submission is a beautiful demonstration. Ephesians 5:21 encourages us to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Wives submit to husbands by respecting their leadership and husbands submit to wives by learning how to love her and be willing to die for her. This could be physical death, but also means you die to yourself, which is a fancy way of saying to stop being selfish. Serve, protect, and love your wife.
The final guideline for a healthy marriage is gratefulness. Thank each other for what they have done, what they say, and who they are. Ephesians 5:20, “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
My prayer for you is that you would have a great marriage and a great friendship with your spouse. By God’s grace, and with His help, you can.
*This was first published in The Chappell Register on April 10, 2014.
*Some of this material comes from John Regier’s “Motivating with Scripture.” Used with permission.