Two things I know about weddings: traditional pre-marital counseling is usually a waste of time. That is why I beg the couple to set up a conversation six to twelve months into the marriage. The bubble will have burst and they are no longer so in love they have no conflict and their partner doesn’t even have to use deodorant. The second thing I know is no matter how eloquent my homily the bride and groom are not listening. They want to, but they are worried about the industrial-strength deodorant not being adequate. Most of my great wedding messages are for those in the audience who are ready to trade their spouse for a good Cocker Spaniel.
We don’t know if the Apostle Paul was married or not. I think he was. He speaks instructions that carry the weight of experience and mistakes and scars.
I no longer ask the bride or groom “Do you?” I ask “Will you?” They want to (“I will….”) Only with time, experience, practice and decision can they say, “I Do.”
“Will you take this…to be…to…for better worse?”
“Only after we have faced “for better for worse” can we say, “I do.” I ask Carole if she will love me when I am old and gray. She says, “I do!”
Five instructions from God through the heart of the Apostle–Ephesians 5:21-28 (The Message):
The Apostle says “Seek to understand.” Seeking to understand is a life-long challenge and the call to first understand and then seek to be understood. After studying habits and stuff, we can pick up clues and patterns. Most of all, Paul’s words in Ephesians 4—“Be kind”—seem to make sense while seeking. Sarcasm can get you hurt.
- SUPPORT—“Wives support your husbands….”
Unless support also gets translated to respect, trouble is on the horizon. Men really put a lot of weight on being respected whether it is from another man or the woman who shares the sink. A wife has a great strategy in motion when she says, “Help me understand what you are thinking, feeling, wanting….”
The wedding coordinator (whom I like a lot) wanted the bride and groom to stand on the altar in the spotlight without any of the bridal party. I agreed with her reason, I vehemently disagreed with the act. A wise counselor said, “We need people whose eyes sparkle when they look at us.” Regardless of age, we need people who will cover our back and encourage us. Remove all other assets: the person who has that kind of support will fare much better.
- CHERISH—“The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does His Church, not by domineering, but by cherishing.”
One of America’s best marriage specialists says marriages that not only last but are great for both parties are marked by fondness for each other. (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John M. Gottman, PH.D.,) A winning strategy is for the guy to cherish his wife and daughters. Something happens that grows confidence and positive self-evaluation.
A current epidemic: many of us are dominated by “I’m not…enough.” When a person knows the right person holds them in secure fondness, our lack diminishes.
- GIVE—“Husbands go all out in your love…a love marked by giving….”
A Christian marriage is defined by covenant and not contract. A contract is to protect your rights. A covenant is about the other person. The instruction points to God’s covenant as the standard. That is a high bar.
- EVOKE—“Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her….”
The punch line to this: “You are really doing yourself a favor when you treat each other in this way.”
When I am the benefactor in expanding the people I love, I become the beneficiary. It takes some time to learn, but measuring the pay-off we practice until we can say, “I do!”
“I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go.
And help us to be wise in times when we don’t know.
Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way.
Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace.”
David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager,
©2015 D. Dean Benton https://www.bentonministries.com
Writer, Wonderer, Practic-er