|(Cancun sunrise - 2/28/19)|
1. Marriage is a lifelong commitment. "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning." - Matthew 19:6ff. Marry someone who has "covenant" in their soul.
2. Your marriage will go through tough times. This is a lifelong commitment - "for better, for worse." There will be both. It is important to go through tough times before you are married. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." - James 1:2-3
3. Be a servant to your spouse, putting his/her needs before your own. Lay down your own "rights" long before you stand at the altar and say "I do. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." - 1 Cor. 13:4-5
4. Learn to forgive. This is FOUNDATIONAL. Never marry someone who cannot let go of old wounds and holds on to grudges. "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - Matthew 6:14-15
5. Admit when you are wrong, and seek reconciliation with your spouse. NEVER marry someone who can't say the words "I was wrong." You need to find this out before you walk down the aisle. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." - Matthew 5:23-24
6. Make plans together, but don't be surprised when things don't turn out the way you planned. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." - Romans 12:2
7. Communicate often, but don't try to change your spouse. Instead, encourage and strengthen each other. You can't change the other, but you can be changed yourself. NEVER, EVER marry someone with the hope that you can change them and they will be different once you are married. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - Luke 6:41-42
8. Don't depend on your spouse to fill all your needs. Only God can do that. Marry someone who loves God and finds their life in God more than they love and find their life in you. "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD." - Jeremiah 17:5
9. Mutually submit to one another. "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." - Ephesians 5:22-28
One more thing - for the person who says "But nobody's perfect!"
Aim higher than that.
Have a covenental soul.
Go through, not around, tough times.
Forgive, as you have been forgiven.
When you are wrong, admit it. When the other person is wrong, relate to it.
Be flexible. Move with the Holy Spirit.
Focus on your own transformation into Christlikeness.
Make Jesus your everything, your all in all.
Humbly submit to one another.
After I complete How God Changes the Human Heart, Linda and I plan on writing our book on Relationships.