Julie and I have fourteen grandchildren. We are less than forty-eight hours from our first grandchild being married. When most of you read this, the happy couple will be on their honeymoon.
If I were to give blanket advice to them and every other couple on the planet, here is what I would say.
Julie and I have been married for forty-three years. Have we argued? Sure we have, but the disagreements have been few and far between. There are two underlying reasons for this – 1) we understand that marriage is a union of three – man, woman, and God; and 2) We settled most of our arguments before we were married.
Let us start with number two.
Julie and I wrote to each other a lot before we were married. It was not a long-distance relationship. Although we did not go to the same school, we did see each other twice a week at church. It is there we would exchange letters. We would read the Bible and write about what we read. Since the Bible addresses nearly every topic of life, we wrote about every issue of life. Many opinions formed, agreements made on dozens of topics – the discipline of children, how to handle the in-laws, when to borrow money – to name a few.
I would greatly encourage every couple to get life’s answers from the Bible. But I also know, that other couples may not be as religious as we are, and Bible study together may be impractical. However, the point is to talk about as much as possible about potential problems and situations. The more decisions made before marriage, the fewer arguments that come after. And if you are wondering, there have been times when one of us had said, “That’s not what we decided before we were married.” When that phrase comes up, the offending party acknowledges their wrongdoing and concedes.
These are the topics I would strongly encourage every couple to discuss in length before marriage.
Money – the two become one, and so should the bank account. Discuss debt, if and under what circumstances you should ever borrow money.
Children – How many? How do you discipline them? Public school, private school, or homeschool?
The In-laws – Extended family, can cause many unforeseeable problems. Husbands can get jealous if the wife keeps going to dad for issues around the house. Some mothers-in-law may have good intentions but give the new wife a sense that she can do nothing right. You get the picture.
Life Goal – If the wife wants to live in a large city with a seven-figure income and the husband is happy to take over the family farm, it will be challenging to keep the family together as they march in different directions.
Now on to the union of three.
I find it fascinating that God commands the husband to love his wife but never tells a woman to love her husband. From my experience, most women do not need a reminder to love, whereas men have a more difficult time at it.
God commands us to love; therefore, love is a choice. Also, love is not a feeling; it is an action. The definition of love is found in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave…”
Husbands need to love their wives with a God-like love. A love that always gives. Selfishness is the opposite of love. The more selfish a man is, the less he loves his wife. A man’s prayers are less effective if he does not honor his wife. God does not want to listen to a man that does not put his wife on a pedestal (1 Peter 3:7).
The Bible says that a wife is her husband’s “help meet.” Meet here is an adjective giving us this definition, “precisely adapted to a particular situation, need, or circumstance: very proper.”
The husband is the God-ordained leader of the family, but it is the wife that provides the missing pieces of the puzzle. As they serve God together, advancing in the will of God through their goals in life, the three walk hand-in-hand, walking in the glory of God as husband and wife grow together in grace every day.
What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
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With houses of worship still under restrictions across much of the nation, the editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner are inviting an array of spiritual teachers to share insights from the ages along with words of comfort and encouragement. These timely messages are not exclusive to any particular faith walk and will be included in our ongoing Spirituality series.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com