THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE MARRIAGE
FF Chong — London, United Kingdom
From the Bible, we learn that it
is God who institutes and ennobles marriage. It is God’s plan
for a man and a woman to come
together and to find happiness in each other. Since it is sacred, we have to
realize what God expects of us in our marriage.
Marriage is not something we can
try out for a while and exchange or refund if it doesn’t work out. So, prior to
entering into a marital relationship, there are biblical teachings that we have
God knew Adam’s deep need for a
partner. He therefore created a woman, Eve, to fulfill and help him in his life
(Gen 2:18). The creation of Eve was part of the profound truth of marriage.
God did not create Eve out of dust
so that Adam would not consider her as a separate creation from him. Rather, He
shaped Eve from one of his ribs. She was brought to Adam, who instantly knew
who she was (Gen 2:23)—she was a part and an extension of him. For this to be
possible, he needs to know enough about her.
TALK THINGS OUT
It is always important for a
couple to understand one another. However, the focus of understanding should
not be on unrealistic discussions of how much wealth they will earn, and neither
should it be founded on emotional love.
When we are considering weather
someone is suitable for us, we have to be able to separate what are primary and
what are secondary factors affecting our decision. Considerations such as
pleasure, beauty, figure, wealth, fame, education, and social status are secondary.
Any motive for marriage that does not stem from God’s principles may bring
tragedy to the marriage itself.
Rather, consider whether or not
this person is compatible with you. As a wife, are you willing to set your
heart to help this man in his faith, health, home, work, and life? Is he someone you truly desire to help? As a
husband, are you determined to cherish this woman life-long? Do you put your
trust in her and love her the way you would love yourself?
Premarital understanding includes
coming up with a joint decision on how to face up to challenges after marriage.
It is always good to spell them out one by one, if possible. It also includes
being honest with your future partner about your health. Do not hide anything
that will affect your marriage later. Sometimes, frankness hurts, but it’s
always the best way forward.
Accepting a spouse-to-be’s sickness presents a real challenge. If you still truly
love your future partner, despite what is told, then you should pray to God or
consult someone who you think can help, bearing in mind that you may have to
live with the sickness life-long. This requires lasting and genuine love on
When talking about love, it should
not be confined to romantic expressions alone. The foundation of marital love
is the love of God, agape, without which the eros
would not last. The principle of love is nothing less than the perfect virtues
of Christ, which were enunciated by Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13:4-8). Many marriages fail because they lack the
virtues of love to sustain them.
True love in marriage is the
result of having adopted Christ’s love and not the mere cliché of “I love you.”
The two great characteristics of Christ’s love are being sacrificial and
submissive. He sacrificed for the church and submitted to God’s will.
True love for each other can
rarely be seen prior to marriage. It is what is done for the other party when
the two live together. It is an expression of a down-to-earth attitude.
More time should also be spent on
discussing the weaknesses of each other in truth with love. This gives your
potential spouse a fair idea of what type of person you really are. This is to
prepare each other psychologically before living together.
True love is giving and not
expecting anything from the other. You should know that this is a practical
issue and should not think that it can be easily done. When true love is not
the motivation in marriage, giving is more a burden than a joy.
The lines of communication must
always be free from interruption. Love does not insist on one’s own way. Love
is to please your spouse within the boundary of the Bible, and marriage must be
kept intact in Christ Jesus by the best effort of both.
Do not expect the other party to
provide what you want all the time. Since marriage is a divine contract in
which two persons enter, and after you have talked things out, you should do
your best to live up to the expectations of the other.
ACCEPT AND DO YOUR PART
This brings us to the subject of
the roles and relationships between a husband and a wife in marriage. A role is
the part that one plays in the story of marriage. When you do not know your
role, unnecessary complications will arise. You can stumble over barriers that
you can’t remove.
A marital relationship is
delicate. It can be easily affected by the role you play. But when you are
willing to adhere to the role spelled out in the Bible and to accept the
responsibility of that role, you will enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying
marriage. You’ll also have a good story to share with others.
As the Wife
The phrase “she is a woman” is
not a declaration of inferiority to men. Rather, it is an honest recognition of
the differences between the sexes. Realizing these differences is absolutely
fundamental to fulfillment in life and marriage.
In this modern society, the role
of women has changed. A wife may have to work in order to help provide for the
needs of the entire family, and working mothers are becoming more and more
common. But she still cannot neglect her role as a mother and a wife.
In this regard, the husband may
have to help with the household chores and childcare, in addition to being a
“breadwinner.” This is to share the workload and prevent overstraining his wife
In God’s design, a wife has been
fashioned to take the role of subjecting herself to the husband. If the
motivation is not from the understanding of God’s word and adoption of biblical
virtues, submission is more a torture than joy.
The truth of submission on the
wife’s part reveals the clear roles of both the husband and the wife. She
should submit to her husband (within the scope of the Bible) as much as she
would to the Lord. She must always be willing to do so even though it might
One might ask this fundamental
question: “Why is a wife willing to submit to the Lord?” For a start, the Lord
gives instructions that benefit not Himself, but to those who adheres to them.
In other words, the reason for a husband wanting his wife to submit to him
should not be for himself but for the benefit of the wife and the entire family.
In the process of building up a
godly marriage, the wife needs to supplement what is lacking in the husband (Remember,
the husband is not Jesus, he merely strives to imitate
Him). Wifely duties include comforting the husband when he is down, advising
him when he has gone astray, and praying unceasingly for him (which the husband
should also do for his wife).
As the Husband
The husband should do as much as
possible in his daily living to show that he genuinely loves his wife. In order
for a wife to be submissive, the husband should imitate Christ as closely as
possible and to act Him out in his life. This is to ensure that whatever he
does or brings into the marital relationship can be edifying and sanctifying to
the marriage and to the family.
In this light, respecting and
cherishing the wife forms part of the role of the husband. If the husband is
taught to respect his wife, would not the wife all the more respect her
husband? “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them” (Col 3:19).
The love of the husband for his
wife is explained by Paul as loving his own body and giving all glory to her
(cf. 1 Cor 12:23-24). When a husband is lacking in
Christ’s love, his love for his wife is also inadequate. And it will increasingly
be impossible for him to love his wife consistently.
The husband must care for the
wife and embrace her as the weaker vessel, and he must not have an exaggerated
expectation of his beloved. He is to love his wife as Christ loves His church.
The direct and immediate punishment from God to a husband who does not honor
his wife is that his prayer goes unanswered.
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with
understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being
heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1
Keep in mind that God determines
the role a wife and a husband each have to play. He has placed the
responsibility of the family unit upon the shoulders of the husband, and the
wife is to help him.
Within the marital relationship,
both are needed to yield to the commands of Christ and will eventually be
accountable for what has been done.
GROW UP TOGETHER
For this cause a man shall leave his father and
his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Gen
The teaching implies the requirement
for a man to mature as he steps into marriage.
To get married is to be
independent, though the verse does not connote a severance of familial ties
with the parents of either parties. To leave the
parents indicates the beginning of a new phase of life, with the wife being the
most important person apart from God. And the love of Christ for the church
should be a model and a real experience in his marriage. Mentally, he is
prepared to live with his wife in a reasonable manner.
As for a woman, she must likewise
know the biblical reason for marrying her husband. In becoming a good wife, she
needs to know that it is essential for the church to respond to the sacrificial
love of Christ—she needs to learn the virtue of submission.
The other considerations such as
family-sustaining income and education are necessary but they are not absolute
requirements to a happy marriage.
Though the Bible does not specify
when a man or a woman can get married, apart from the general guidelines, you
have to think carefully about it.
There are members who got married
when they were still students. They rented a room for themselves and worked
part-time to sustain their livelihood. Though they may toil, which they should
have expected, they lived joyously and served the Lord diligently. Some others,
even after marriage, received direct financial support from the family.
Every marriage exists under unique
conditions. A case of successful marriage may not be suitable or applicable to
another situation. What makes a marriage successful is that every couple must
be very clear, before marriage, what conditions they are in and how they will
approach and enter into marriage with the biblical principles as their
The things of the world are ever
changing and temporal, but the principles of God remain true to those who show
genuine commitment towards one another in marriage. To those who believe and
hang on to His promises, He blesses them with wonderful stories of love.