I have been asked to lead a wedding ceremony for a member of our church, Good News and today I have our first premarital counseling session. I would like to share some of the information here in this article as resource for those of you who are planning on getting married one day.
I have been married for almost 11 years and most of the stuff that I will write about has come from my own personal experiences. Before doing anything else, you must study the Bible study course “Marriage without Regrets” written by Kay Arthur. Secondly, you must buy the book that accompanies the study. These must be read and studied constantly before you get married and during your married life.
I. Commitment is the key
Going into any marriage, you must understand that this is a lifelong commitment and you will stick it out no matter what. Marriage is a covenant made between two people. This covenant/commitment is so strong that God literally takes two distinct beings and makes them one. It is a mystery to how it happens and works but it is true. You must have this mindset going into your marriage. I am committed to God, to you, and to this marriage. If this is not your mentality then you are getting started on the wrong foot. If there is a thought in the back of your mind like, “well, if this does not work out then there is always plan b” then you need to drop it, or the idea of getting married. There is no plan b. God designed plan A to last a lifetime and when you say “I do” then you commit to that plan for the rest of your life, no matter what. The word “divorce” should be treated like a four letter word in your family. This commitment will be tested and tried over and over again during your married life. Like most people, even Christians can see the grass as being greener on the other side. Trust me, it is not. It is the same color of the grass on your side of the fence. Stay committed to the one whom God has given to you. Make that commitment known in the beginning, in the middle, and at the end (end of yours or your spouse’s life). Do not do anything to compromise that commitment; flirting with others, making jokes, allowing negative thoughts to take root in your mind etc.
II. Communication is vital
Never, ever lose the ability to communicate with your spouse. At first you may think that this is impossible because you both love each other so much and you spend hours together walking and talking. This is normal and healthy. As you spend more and more time with each other, you become more and more comfortable with each other and you can fall into patterns and routines where you do not need to communicate as much. When children come along, together with the pressures of work and life in general, you may not even notice it but you will begin to communicate less and less. This is why you must make communication a top priority. Make time to sit and talk. Go on mini dates so that you can sit and share with each other. Send each other text messages and emails when you are apart. When your spouse wants to know how you are doing, share. Share the little things. In my own marriage, I love sending neat things that I find on the internet to my wife. When I see something of interest my first thought is to share and I choose to share with my wife. Even though we have been married over 10 years, I still get a thrill out of sharing things like this with her and seeing her reaction. The little things help improve the big things. Keep the line of communication open and the information flowing. If you do not communicate with your spouse as a best friend then you and he/she will find others to communicate with and this can very often lead to sin. Do Bible study together as well as separately so that you can discuss what you are learning with your spouse. Pray together for specific things. Spend time serving the Lord together as well as separately. Share your victories as well as your struggles with your spouse. That person is there to encourage and help you like no one else can.
III. Convictions are a necessity
Both you and your spouse must have Biblical convictions if you want a marriage that lasts and brings fulfillment to your lives. For this to happen, you must build your life on the Word of God. Jesus Christ shared a great teaching on the power of the Word of God and necessity of building our lives on It when He preached the “Sermon on the Mount“.
7 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets ; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5)
The Word of God will last. Jesus said it even clearer in Matthew 24 when discussing the end of days:
35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (Matthew 24)
If you build your life and your marriage on the Word of God then your marriage will endure as long as you are alive because the Word of God will endure. When you build your life on Biblical principles there are some convictions that you must hold to.
- Divorce is not an option because God hates it, period.
- Adultery is not an option, both physical and mental.
- Abortion is not an option because it is a crime in the eyes of God.
- The perfect marriage cannot become your idol.
- Idolatry must not be present in any form in your marriage.
- Lying is not permissible. This goes back to communication.
- Spiritual disciplines must be practiced individually and corporately
- Bible study
- Corporate worship
- Serving in the church and community
- Being discipled
- Making disciples
These should be part of your life before you get married as well as during your married years. These are teachings of the Bible and must be your convictions.
IV. Consider your expectations and your spouse’s
All of us bring our own expectations to a marriage. That is normal. Most of these expectations come from the way things were done in our own homes while growing up. You expect your spouse to do as your mother or father did. Your spouse’s expectations may be different because you grew up in different homes. This is why you must discuss these expectations and eventually, when conflict does arise, check and see if it is because an expectation is not being met. Be open to change because marriage is all about serving your spouse. We as people, because of our sin natures, have a tendency to want to be served instead of serving. God’s plan is the exact opposite. We serve others without expecting anything in return and when we are served, it is a benefit instead of an expectation. When i serve my spouse and my spouse serves me then we work together in harmony, the way God intended. When discussing expectations you need to ask and answer questions about each others’ families.
- In the home, what are the husband’s responsibilities? Who will take out the trash? Who will prepare meals? Who will wash the dishes? Who will clean the house? Who will take care of household repairs? Who will take care of the yard?
- In the home, what are the wife’s responsibilities?
- Will the wife work outside the home? Will the kids stay home until school age or will they go to daycare?
- What time will you eat breakfast? What is normally served? Who prepares breakfast? Is it mandatory to eat together? Where will breakfast be eaten?
- What about lunch?
- What time do you plan on eating supper? What kind of meal?
- What time do you go to bed? What time do you get up? When are you the most productive, morning or evening?
- How do you plan on celebrating holidays? How many presents do you plan on giving to your children for birthdays, Christmas etc. ?
These may seem like trivial things but they can ruin communication and blow up a conflict to the point of ending a marriage. Remember, the little things can quickly turn to big things if not dealt with properly.
I pray that this has been helpful and that God will bless you with a great spouse as you allow Him to transform you into a great spouse. God bless.