Ah Summer..the wedding season is upon us in full force and all around us love is in the air! The wedding day is over all to soon for many brides and grooms and quickly they learn they must settle into the routine of living together ’till death do us part.

What happens when you come home from the honeymoon? Suddenly you realize he has bad breath in the morning, and his feet stink after a hard days work! You realize that you have to prepare a nutritious and delicious meal every night…for the rest of your life, perhaps after working all day at your own job. There are bills that need to be paid, and decisions that have to be made by two people now joined as one.

Two minds, two different thought processes, most often one emotional and one logic driven. Two agendas one driven by fun and relaxation and the other possibly motivated by responsibility. You discover one of you is a talker and the other is quieter than you remembered…

Suddenly this whole marriage thing is work and you find yourself a little disappointed by the reality of the daily grind that is involved. It is not quite what you were expecting?

Occasionally I get the young marrieds who come looking for a little counsel in this area. I find there are only a few general causes for problems early on (the first year or two) in marriage. One is that the couple had an unrealistic idea of what marriage is all about. The other is they have brought sinful practices or habits into the marriage that are being brought to light.

I am understandably a huge proponent of pre-marital counseling, and I suggest Wayne Mack’s workbook (Preparing for Marriage God’s Way) for this purpose.  I am truly astonished at the lame pre-marital counseling that goes on in many of our churches. It is the cause of much heartache for the couple, when it is too late to back out of the marriage biblically.

When I get the young married women looking for help I find I must cover the same ground pretty consistently.  I help the woman understand that the vows she made gave her a life-long companion. Marriage was designed by God because – “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 ). The divine purpose in marriage is companionship, so you better be sure you really like the guy before you marry him! He must truly be your best friend. When you marry, you must understand that a covenant is being made and it is permanent (Ezek 18:8b). You are making a covenant before God to meet the real needs of your husband on every level- sexual, social, spiritual and others (Gen 15:8-21).

Because marriage is to reflect the relationship Christ has with His Bride the Church you must realize too that marriage is a giving relationship where you are not obligated to receive but to give. It is not a 50/50 proposition, but each person is to willingly give 100% to their spouse. I find this an area where women consistently fall down and struggle. Somewhere along the way of life someone told them that the husband is to be able to meet all their emotional needs, and that he is to be the giver of all things. I have a news flash- there is no earthly way your husband can meet all of your emotional needs, no way, no how.

You are to be others centered in every area of your Christian life, so why does it shock some women that charity begins in the home? Your husband is to be the first and primary recipient of your time, attention, generosity, and love. You are to provide him with all you desire for yourself, surrendering yourself for his needs and sometimes his wants as well. Ideally, this is working both ways in a marriage, a happy give and take ensues and both husband and wife live to out-do each other in being “other” oriented. 

Young women and men often have the wrong idea about marriage in this respect because the tendency of the heart is to be supremely selfish and “me” oriented. Telling a selfish person that acts of love are to be ongoing for the next 50 or 60 years makes some people furious.

Another thing I hear is “I don’t love him anymore.” We will look at that next time.

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