What a hopeful thing love is! A man and woman decide they love each other so much that they want to spend their lives together in marriage. Each hopes the other will love them for life. True, some of those hopeful people find disappointment. But a very great number build lasting marriages.
The letter you are about to read was first written to a couple we counseled more than a quarter century ago. The desires we had for them, then, are the same desires we have for every couple we counsel, and for all who read these articles.
(The names are not the names of any couple we have counseled.)
Thanks so much for letting us help you prepare for marriage. We know that as you move forward, the God you both love will give you many insights, help you build a solid, satisfying marriage, and empower you for a lifetime of love.
Give your marriage all the time and care it needs. Don’t skimp. Don’t allow business or busyness to rob you of special times with each other. You will please the Lord by always treating each other as you would treat a valuable gift from God. Cherish each other always as you cherish each other now. In fact, we pray that you will become even more precious to one another day by day, year by year.
Kevin, your wife has taken a big step of faith by marrying you. Many women fear that after marriage the husband will become so entwined in his work that she will no longer be important to him. In marriage, a woman commits herself totally to one man. He alone on earth will be her lover. If he treats her with indifference, she experiences great emotional pain. As Paul said, “Husband, love your wife.” Never give her any reason to doubt your love, no matter how busy life becomes.
Show your wife how important she is to you. Small gestures, those thoughtful little actions, really help. The lunchtime phone call; a single flower just for her; your undivided attention sometime every day; a loving touch as you pass by. But do the big things, too. Put time with your wife in your diary like any important appointment. Talk with her about her day and yours. Times will come when the demands of work and the necessary pressures of life will keep you apart. Even so, if she knows she is important to you, she can endure those times more peacefully. Remember, your wife married a man, not someone’s boss or employee. A man is who you are; work is what you do, even if it is pastoral or missionary work.
Your wife knows you like no one knows you, and loves you anyway. When people hurt you or threaten you, she may feel it more acutely than you do. She doesn’t want to see you hurt, so she may try to save you from anyone who could wound you. In fact, she may be more sensitive to wrong motives than you are. That’s one way she’ll help you. Weigh her counsel carefully, but be careful not to let her insecurities move you to act hastily or unwisely.
Katherine, marriage is a challenge, especially to a couple trying to balance a private life and a public life. Sometimes you’ll think you’re in competition with your husband’s boss, his co-workers, maybe his family, and his own need for solitude. What he needs most from you at those times is your patience and understanding. It may take some time for him to learn how to balance all those demands effectively. So, when you feel overlooked and under-loved, let him know, but try to do it without making him feel guilty. Never nag. Use positive suggestions. Instead of criticizing him for neglecting you, plan some way to reach out to him in his need. A love note placed where he might find it when he least expects it; a back rub at the end of a hard day. Milo!
If, in trying to fill all his roles, your husband sometimes neglects you, remember that he probably isn’t rejecting you. He may have a tough time being all he wants to be. He might find it hard to share his deepest struggles with you, though you want him to share them with you very much. Your understanding during those times will make it easier for him to open his heart to you.
Marriage is a life-long school, and its one subject is love. If we’re smart, we won’t waste the opportunity. Instead, we’ll learn how to love each other. Don’t let anything– your pride, wounds, hurts, anything– stop you from learning how to love.
Every Christian home is Satan’s target for disruption, and, if all goes according to his wicked plan, destruction! Covenant-keepers constantly irritate the devil– a constant reminder of the power of faithful covenant relationships. When we stand together as husband and wife, the power of agreement in faith is astounding, and to our adversary, a sure sign of his defeat. So remember what the Bible says: don’t let the sun go down on your anger; don’t give the devil an opportunity.(Ephesians 4:26) Should he gain an advantage in your relationship, don’t let him keep it. Even if our enemy wins a piece of ground, he knows that he will lose it again if we counter his attack in the power of Christ. Remember, God the Father is powerfully committed to your marriage because you are humbly submitted to him.
Blessed marriage! Blessed life! May your marriage bring great pleasure to the Father, great distress to Satan, and tremendous joy and fulfillment to both of you, for the rest of your lives. Let the love of God shine through you as a light to a darkened world.