According to the recent national census (2010), 49.4% of people in Australia are married. The medium age of a first marriage for men is 29.6 years old and 27.7 for women. Choosing to marry someone is an important decision that needs to be undertaken with much prayer and consideration. At our church, we require all couples who intend on marrying to take a pre-marital course called Prepare and Enrich Course.
What are some ways to build a great marriage?
A great wedding doesn't make a great marriage. Life is a journey and only with ongoing time and effort will a couple continue to grow together in their love for each other. A strong marriage includes a combination of commitment, friendship and romance. Commitment is the foundation that holds things together when the other two aspects aren't going so well, which occurs somewhere in any marriage. Communication is the key to building and maintaining any relationships. When communication breaks down, so do relationships.
What roles should husbands and wives have in an ideal marriage?
In biblical times, the husband was the home-provider and the wife was the mother and home-maker (1Tim.5:8; Tit.2:1-5). Paul speaks of the husband providing for his own household and of the wife being a home-maker. However, in a patriarchal society, Jesus and Paul made significant steps towards returning to the model of ‘partnership’ that God intended from the beginning (see Gen.1-2). God’s ideal is that men and women together share the reproduction mandate (“be fruitful and multiply”) and the dominion mandate (“let them rule”). The image of God is “male and female” not “male over female.” In our contemporary society, it is important that husbands and wives openly discuss their God-given roles and responsibilities together. These can be determined by the unique gifts of each person and the context in which each couple finds themselves.
How should decisions be made?
Decision-making should be done together in a spirit of mutual submission and accountability. Unity is essential, so as to avoid a divided household, confused children, and a potential marriage rift or drift. Husbands and wives should spend time in extended discussion and prayer together. It is also wise to receive counsel from others, as in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom.
Paul described the husband as the ‘head’ of the home (1Tim.5:8 with Tit.2:1-5), which involves loving spiritual leadership. Of course, in healthy marriages there is mutual submission and respect (Eph.5:21). There is also recognition of the unique gifts and abilities of both the husband and the wife. Ideally, they should lead together in united partnership and do everything with a motive of love.
Christian marriages are a strong three-fold cord between a husband and wife and God. As the couple grows closer to God, they draw closer to each other, and visa versa. A strong spiritual foundation of faith and prayer only enriches any marriage relationship.
There are many good books on marriage. I would especially recommend The Marriage Book by Nicky and Sila Lee.