Advice for a Bridegroom

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.

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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7 Responses to Advice for a Bridegroom

  1. ukfred says:

    Jon, submission by the wife to the husband is an area that is fraught with dangers of misinterpretation, some willful and some not. One model I have heard is that of the captain and first officer aboard a ship. There is no doubt that the captain is in command, but the first officer has duties that are delegated him by the captain so that the captain can free himself to perform some other duties that cannot be delegated. In the event of a disagreement about the correct course of action,. the captain can over-rule his first officer, but most times he leaves the first officer to get on with his job, perhaps advising him privately, “I thought that you might have done X rather than Y in that situation.” but never undermining his authority in front of others, just as parents need to be sure to ‘get the line straight’ when children try to play one off against the other. But there will always be those whose intent is to undermine marriage who will object to this biblical command.

    The flip side of the command to submit is the command to love. This is a transitive verb. There is someone who is to be loved. The husband is not commanded to feel in love but to love his wife. Feelings wax and wane, but if we follow what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 13:4 -8) we too will know that love never fails. We need to concentrate on doing – loving our wife – and pay less heed to the feelings we have in the wife’s presence. It does not stop us learning about what makes our wife feel loved, because if we love someone, we will want to communicate this to them using the ‘buttons’ that generate most response.

    And your final point is so true. We can have no better example of how to love someone that the perfect example of the only One who was both perfect man and Holy and Eternal God. The only concern here is that the passage that springs to mind about perseverance starts with the comment that sufferings produce perseverance and I don’t want anyone to think that I see being married as suffering. Gabriella would, in the words of our daughter, turn me into dead meat.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thanks for the comment, Fred. I spend a lot more time talking about submission in premarital counsel than I did in this quick email, obviously. I like the captain / first officer illustration — doesn’t really cover all the bases on Biblical submission / headship, but it certainly demonstrates some aspects of it very, very well.

      Would it help if you told her that you were rejoicing in your sufferings? 🙂 Not recommended, I like you more as a live person than as dead meat!

  2. paul says:

    It is all right to bring superior knowledge into any relationship, but what produces success is a gut feeling of doing and being right.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Paul, you are right that merely knowing God’s principles is no guarantee of success. But it is not the “gut feeling” that God will bless. It is simply doing what He says, and that starts with learning from His Word..

      • alcoramdeo says:

        Dickens’ Scrooge expresses a right understanding of “gut feeling” in his exchange with Marley’s ghost, who asked, “Why do you doubt your senses?”

        “Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”

        Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
        Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

        Either we get it God’s way or we don’t get it.

      • Jon Gleason says:

        Thanks, Brother Al. 🙂

        The Bible does speak at times of an internal confidence that God gives, but it is always rooted in Scripture.

  3. alcoramdeo says:

    Thanks for an excellent post, worthy both of reposting and of sharing personally.

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