If I Only Had This Space to Prepare You for Marriage

If I Only Had This Space to Prepare You for Marriage

Marriage was created by God (Gen. 2:18-24), and therefore is governed by God. Successful marriages look to His word.

God expects your marriage to last until death (Mark 10:6-9). He also intends it to be a source of joy (Eccl. 9:9) and an example of His grace and care for the church (Hos. 3:1). Your spouse has a tremendous influence on your relationship with God (1 Peter 3:7) and your eternal destiny (2 Kings 11:4); thus, whom you choose to marry, and the kind of spouse you yourself prove to be, should be two of life’s greatest concerns (Gen. 24:3-4).

Marriages often fail because people mistake infatuation for love. Infatuation is exhilarating but doesn’t exist every moment. Infatuation is too flimsy to build a whole relationship on.
Thus, perhaps the greatest concepts to understand when approaching marriage are love and commitment. Love, as Jesus demonstrated it, is unselfish goodwill. It always has the other person’s best interests in mind, even when the other person is undeserving (John 3:16). It loves the unlovely (Mark 10:45). The greatest spouse is the one who understands the love of Jesus and is determined to display it to others. The three best passages you could read at your wedding are Philippians 2:5- 11, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, and Colossians 3:12-21.

Always have your spouse’s best interests in mind. When he leaves his dirty socks on the floor, discuss it, but don’t retaliate. Service spirals upward; revenge spirals downward.
When you sense a lull in the infatuation, or when you hit a truly rough patch, hang on, and strive to bring it back. Marriage takes work. All marriages experience trouble. Remember love and commitment, and you will soon be head-over-heels again!

Despite pop psychology, men and women are different physically and emotionally (not spiritually, Gal. 3:28), and have different roles and different needs. Marriages are most successful when these roles are considered and needs are met.

The top four needs of most wives tend to be affection, conversation, domestic security, and financial support. Men, that means you need to learn to build up her self-esteem with loving comments and romantic deeds and thoughtful gifts, on a daily basis, that do not necessarily lead to the bedroom. Develop an interest in a few topics that interest her. When she is talking, shut off the TV and be an active listener. Do your best at work, seek promotion and education. Do not be selfish with your paycheck; her contributions to the household grant her an equal claim to the family’s money. Have eyes only for your wife. Do not take out workplace stresses on your family. Attend your kids’ events.

The top needs of most husbands tend to be sexual fulfillment, praise and respect, domestic support, and recreational acceptance. (Yep, guys are more shallow.) Women, this means that you need to learn to build up his self-esteem with appreciation for the things he does for the family. Make the home a shelter from the world; he can have the worst day of his life and come home and still feel like all is well. While he doesn’t need you to be one of the guys, he would enjoy permission to pursue a sport or hobby, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the home. Occasionally, he will want solitude.

These needs may be different. Which is one reason communication is the lifeblood of any marriage—to share hopes and dreams, to air grievances. Never use communication or the absence of it to punish. Learn to give and receive criticism. Discuss dissatisfaction at the right time in a pleasant way. Fight the problem, not each other. The last stage of breakdown is not arguing; it is silence, boredom, ambivalence. If you stop caring, drop everything else, figure out the problem and fix it, go out on dates, reinvest in your marriage.

Leadership and submission is an important but complicated topic. Read Ephesians 5:25-33. If a husband takes seriously his duty to lead the family to heaven, knowing that he will give an account to God, and makes decisions that have the family’s best interests in mind, and communicates his reasons, most every godly wife in the world would feel not only content but thrilled to submit, liberated to pursue the spheres of influence where she is at her best. Most wives resent having to lead in her husband’s place.

The six biggest sources of marital stress are: kids, time and attention, sex, in-laws, money, and chores. Do an extra-good job of communicating in these areas. The five destroyers of love in a marriage are rash or angry outbursts, a lack of integrity, selfish demands, refusing to freely and fully forgive, and stupid annoying habits.
Make God the centerpiece of your home. Be unashamedly Christian. Make worship a non- negotiable priority. Raise your children in the love and instruction of God.

Make marriage a low-sarcasm zone; there is a grain of truth to every put-down. “I was just kidding” doesn’t erase the accumulation of little hurts (Prov. 26:19).
Set a budget. Avoid credit cards and monthly payments.

Leave and cleave. Your parents have great advice. But you need to make the adult decisions without their meddling. That means you can’t rely on their money, either.

Adultery is death. Inoculate yourself with passages that list the physical and spiritual consequences of adultery (Prov. 5 & 6, 1 Thess. 4:3-7). Count your blessings. Take care of how things look, and you take care of how things are. Erect sensible hedges to keep out of trouble. Have meetings in public places. Avoid too-suggestive conversation, even in jest. Lock out pornography.
—John Guzzetta