Marriage is one of those amazing things ordained by God, but often messed up by His children. I remember vividly preparing for my first wedding more than a decade ago.
After a less than ideal proposal and courtship, I recall eagerly meeting with florists, vendors, caterers, bridesmaids and the likes. I remember the excitement about the wedding, and not much excitement or focus on the marriage as my busy groom-to-be was foreshadowing his continual busyness, and I was entranced tending to “girl stuff” with our mothers. I remember a trusted girlfriend asking if I was “sure” this was what I wanted to do. I remember thinking, “things will get better”. I even remember the jilted ex (he wasn’t really jilted, I just like that word), declaring his last-ditch-effort love the day before my nuptials. I’ll admit now that I didn’t know if I was sure. I didn’t know if things would get better, and I could have virtually smacked that ex for pulling a Dewayne Wayne (Google it) so late in the game.
Anywho, my first wedding was one I’ll never forget. News of its approach was broadcast on local radio. More than a thousand squeezed in the sanctuary for a seat decked in lilac and silver. I remember sashaying down the aisle smiling as my recorded voice filled the walls with poetic declarations. I recall stirring songs “tearing down the house”. I remember the ministers praying and declaring blessings. I remember the rings and I remember the doves released to the air in a beautiful swirl of white wings flapping. I remember all of that, but still feeling “some kind of way” as the modern day youth say.
I’ve learned in retrospect that by design, marriages are key targets for the enemy to fire his best shot. Afterall, he’s jealous, and can never have what’s been promised to man! That makes it crucial for couples to be centered in Christ, committed to one another, and sure they’re down for the cause, especially when inconvenient. I’ve also come to know that there are subtle caution signs and blaring warning signs prior to the I Do, which can be used to help if heeded to, or can lead to the total opposite if ignored.
Marriage is a beautiful thing. However, it takes more than a ring and a prayer. It takes work from the beginning, in the middle and until the end, regardless of the outcome.
Aside from the spiritual mandates, physical connection, and honoring of God’s united purpose marriage takes:
• Two people committed to God first.
• Two people devoted to each other above all else other than God.
• Two people with hopes, dreams and goals that don’t have to match, but certainly have to mesh.
• Two people who love each other even when they don’t like each other’s actions.
• Two people who respect and support each other’s specific role in the marriage. It must be mutual.
• Two people who respect and support each other’s specific role in life.
• Two people willing to submit to growth and change for the greater good of the union.
• Two people who are aware of, and accept that marriage is really not about the wedding.
• Two people who have an ear to hear and heart to receive from the other.
• Two people willing to let the other “in” even if their natural tendency is to block out and shut down.
• Spiritual counseling prior to the marriage (My first husband and I didn’t have this, even though he was a pastor. I guess no one thought it was needed. Yikes!)
• Spiritual counseling and encouragement after the “honeymoon” has ended.
• Spiritual counseling throughout the marriage to prevent trials, and certainly when trouble like unexpected sickness, job woes, financial struggles, generational issues, children or the lack there of have entered the house.
• A strong network of mature, Godly supporters who are open to be totally honest with both parties, and who are not afraid to tell the truth in love for the greater good of the union. (I’m not talking about the “Girl, If I ‘was’ you I would” group, or “Man, you need to” crew, but true God-sent helpers.)
• Individual lives (friends, family, circles of influence and ministry) that support the marriage and don’t suffocate it.
• A healthy, committed way to openly communicate things that are pleasant, and not so pleasant, especially when it’s not so pleasant.
• Scheduled family prayer time.
• Scheduled time to discuss and handle family business
• Scheduled fun time.
• Spontaneous “FUN” time. (If you know what I mean.:)