I received the following from a work colleague some years ago:
(name withheld) is getting married soon – April 21st to be exact. I want to put together some “advice to the groom” as a fun thing to give him.
If you have some serious or some humorous observations to share, please email them to me and I will put them together to give to him.
Most would be from a guy’s perspective, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a women’s view as well…..
Here is my contribution (with one or two minor alterations). This is by no means complete (I generally give multiple sessions of premarital counseling), but it is a good start on some things to remember.
1. Very Good. When God created, and finished virtually all His creation, He found fault with what He had created — “It is not good,” because man was alone. He created the woman and instituted marriage, and then all that He had made was “very good.”
2. Leaving and Cleaving. “A man shall leave father and mother, and cleave unto his wife” (Genesis 2:24). God expects you to make this human relationship so close that all others pale in comparison. You need to love and honour your parents and hers, but you must protect the marriage from inappropriate outside influences.
3. One Flesh. “They shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Your individual life ends. When I marry a couple, I encourage them to light a unity candle during the wedding. They each take their own candle, and together light the unity candle. Then, the groom blows out his bride’s candle, and she blows out his, for he is taking her separate life and ending it, as she is taking his. When you marry, you give up your separate life. Thus, marriage is NOT a 50/50 proposition, it is 100/100. You have given up yourself entirely.
4. Marital Intimacy. “Rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18, etc). God not only permits the joys of marital intimacy (Hebrews 13:4), He commands it for married men, both here in Proverbs and in I Corinthians 7:3-5.
5. United for a Purpose. “And did not He make one? Yet had He the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed” (Malachi 2:15).
a. God makes a couple one. You are not uniting, He is uniting you. To sunder what He has united is rebellion against Almighty God. This passage calls it treacherous and violent – violent because you are tearing apart that which you did not join. It is as if you were tearing someone’s arms and legs off.
b. One of God’s purposes for marriage is to “seek a godly seed”. As God blesses you with children, you have a responsibility to train them to know and love Him (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
6. Submission. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).
a. You are in big, big trouble. Maybe you had better back out now. Do you realise what a responsibility that is for the husband? My wife always says she has the easy job.
b. This does not make you a dictator. She will be your best advisor, and you must seek to be in agreement together. This does give you “the tie-breaking vote.” Use it well.
c. This requires her to TRUST. To trust you, and even more to trust the Lord. Be sure that your decision-making and your communication does not tempt her not to trust. I like to joke that I do what Terri wants on all the unimportant things (where we go out to eat, etc) so that I get to do what I want on the important things. It’s a dumb joke, but there’s a point to it – you need to make decisions (even in unimportant things) in a way that shows a consistent pattern of listening to her and concern for her, to help her to trust you for other times. For there must be times when you will have to decide contrary to what she wants, and there will be times when you must decide without consultation with her, and it is in those times that it will be hardest for her to trust. Make it easier for her by building trust.
7. Love. “Husbands, love your wives…” (Ephesians 5:25a).
a. This is a command. God doesn’t command us to feel things, He commands us to do things. You may not always feel loving towards your wife, but you are to always do that which is loving. Right feelings follow right actions. Not feeling loving towards her is NO EXCUSE for failing to love her.
b. Engaged guys may find this hard to believe, but it may not always be easy to love her, she may not always be particularly lovable. If it was always easy, and always came naturally, God wouldn’t have to command us to do so, would He?
c. Someday, she will ask you, “Why do you love me?” There are many wrong answers to this question – because you love me, because you are beautiful, because you are sweet and kind, because you treat me well, because you honour your parents, because you are good with children, because you give of yourself to others. Wrong answers, all of them. The right answer is, “Because I have decided to obey the Lord, and committed before Him that I will love you.” Your love must not be conditional on her qualities, but because you have entered into a covenant with her and God that you will love her.
8. Christ’s Love. “…even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25b)
a. The basis of your love is the love of Christ. Because He has loved you with an everlasting love, because He has changed you, you also can love.
b. The example for your love is the love of Christ unto death. He loved those who were unworthy (Romans 5:8) and rebellious (Isaiah 53:6). He loved them unto death. You are to love her unto death.
c. The example for your love is the love of Christ in life. It is easy for us to say, “Of course, I love my wife enough to die for her,” and most Christian husbands would willingly do so. It is much harder for us to love enough to live for her. Christ “endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself” (Hebrews 12:3) for us – it was hard. He, knowing who He was and where He was going, “loved His own unto the end” (John 13:1 ff), the Lord of Glory becoming the humblest servant to a bunch of sweaty fishermen. He lived this life perfectly for us, day in and day out, fulfilling all righteousness (Matthew 3:15; 5:17), that we might be given His righteousness (Romans 3:22, II Corinthians 5:21). You are to love her the way Christ did, and that means you are to live daily for her, giving yourself to her. You might go out in a dying blaze of glory for her, but will you live a shining life of glory to the Lord for her? Daily heroism is harder than a single moment of heroism.