Getting Marriage Off to a Good Start
MARRIAGE goes back to the beginning of the human race. In the garden of Eden Jehovah God married the first human pair, Adam and Eve. (Gen. 2:22-25) Marriage is the only way that God approves for men and women to live together and set up families. (1 Cor. 6:18; 7:9) As an institution of Jehovah, “the happy God,” marriage should be an arrangement that brings happiness to a couple.—1 Tim. 1:11.
But today many marriages do not reflect the happiness that God purposed. In the United States alone there are now two divorces for every five new marriages. Many couples prefer to live together out of wedlock rather than to risk the chance of breakup after marriage.
Jehovah’s witnesses present a refreshing contrast to this. Their marriages and family life are remarkably stable in a world of dwindling moral values. Not that the Witnesses are free from all marital problems. But, for the most part, they are able to cope with their problems and to keep them to a minimum. How do they accomplish this? For one thing, Jehovah’s witnesses try to get marriage off to a good start.
The wedding itself affords an opportunity for this. Before the marriage vows are taken, a qualified minister reviews with the bride and groom the Bible’s counsel for successful marriage and family life. Let us look in on what is said at typical weddings of Jehovah’s witnesses. A minister who recently performed a wedding in New York addressed the couple as follows:
“They Must Become One Flesh”
“Marriage was first established by the Creator of the human race, Jehovah God. After reviewing God’s animal creation in the garden of Eden, the first man Adam found that he had no companion like himself. Though perfect physically and mentally, Adam felt incomplete. Therefore God said: ‘It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.’ (Gen. 2:18) God then created Eve and ‘proceeded . . . to bring her to the man,’ uniting them in wedlock. (Gen. 2:22) The Bible then says: ‘That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.’—Gen. 2:24.
“Did you note that God’s Word states: ‘A man will . . . stick to his wife‘? Jehovah God views marriage as a permanent arrangement. It is not something that you can agree on today but change your mind on at a later date. Only where one partner commits adultery does the Bible allow for divorce.—Matt. 19:9.
“A man’s place after marriage is with his wife, not with his fleshly father or his mother or with friends. Your wife will now become your closest partner in life. From now on you must consider her in everything you do. She is a part of you. You have become ‘one flesh’ in God’s eyes.
“This unity may be illustrated by a healthy human body. The body never fights with itself. The hand does not hurt the foot, nor does the eye harm the ear. Rather, the body members complement one another, each supplying what another lacks. But to achieve this oneness you must submit to the influence of a most important third party in your marriage.
The Third Party to Marriage
“Have you considered that of all the people who observe your wedding today the most important witness is Jehovah God? God must figure prominently in your marriage, for the Bible states: ‘Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.’ (Col. 3:23) You are accepting marriage responsibilities before Jehovah and he expects you to work hard to fulfill them as to him. The principles contained in God’s Word will help you to do that, providing perfect guidelines for you in your relationship with each other. Make Bible study a regular part of your life together.
“In addition to this, it is good for married couples to pray together regularly. The Scriptures admonish: ‘Pray incessantly.’ (1 Thess. 5:17) Does this mean only personal prayer with no one but Jehovah listening? While private prayer to God at any time is very beneficial, there are occasions when prayers of a husband and wife can be united. For example, in addition to mealtimes, every night before retiring affords an opportunity for you to pray together. Your husband is fully able to express the thoughts of both of you at least once a day in the evening. This will have the effect of drawing you closer together, and both of you closer to God. And there is so much for which to thank Jehovah at the end of a day.”
A Wholesome Relationship at Home
A large part of the lives of married couples is spent at home. What type of atmosphere should exist in the home? The speaker at a different wedding made the following observations:
“If you apply Bible principles as a married couple, your love for each other will continue to grow. You will find yourselves attracted to each other, not only physically, but especially because of the godly qualities that you see in your partner. However, as imperfect creatures, you will surely get on each other’s nerves from time to time. How should you react when this happens?
“Ephesians 4:29, 32 provides excellent counsel: ‘Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be. . . . become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.’
“While Jehovah God views a married couple as ‘one flesh,’ this does not mean that marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition. Each partner must be willing to give in more than halfway when problems arise. And they will arise, for you both will face pressures daily.
“For example, when a man is out working, people are sometimes unkind or even downright nasty. As a wife does her housework or cares for children, some days it seems that everything goes wrong. This can give rise to tension and create a ‘need’ for sayings that are ‘good for building up,’ as the apostle Paul put it. (Eph. 4:29) Will your homelife provide such a refreshing atmosphere? Each of you must put forth extra effort to make it that way, especially if you feel worn out from a trying day.
Responsibilities of Husband and Wife
“The Bible, at Ephesians 5:23, likens the responsibility of a husband toward his wife to that of Christ toward the Christian congregation. We read: ‘A husband is head of his wife as the Christ also is head of the congregation.’
“What does a husband’s headship involve? Ephesians 5:28, 29 points to an important aspect of it: ‘Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation.’ You have been caring for yourself for many years. You keep yourself neat and clean, warm and well fed. Now you must do the same for your wife. This includes providing a home for her. It does not have to be a big house, but a place adequate for the needs of the family.
“How should wives respond to the headship of their husbands? Ephesians 5:22 says: ‘Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord.’ Eph 5 Verse 24 adds: ‘In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything.’
“This is no harsh arrangement in which a husband becomes a dictator. First Corinthians 11:3 reminds husbands that they, too, are subject to higher authority, saying: ‘But I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ.’ Women, too, are to be subject first of all to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. A wife’s subjection to her husband is, therefore, not absolute but relative.
“A woman in subjection to her husband recognizes that God expects her husband to make the major decisions in the family. Of course, your husband will talk matters over with you and get your viewpoint. He may even decide to do what you suggest. But he must pay the bills and this can affect his decisions at times.
“A woman who is properly in subjection to her husband is beautiful in the eyes of God. It is as if she were wearing a special type of clothing. How so? Note how the apostle Peter, at 1 Peter 3:3, 4 counsels wives: ‘And do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.’ Unlike material clothing that wears out, these qualities never lose their pleasantness to God. They can make a husband love his wife more after decades of marriage than on their wedding day, although you may find that hard to believe now.
“A Capable Wife”
“Proverbs 31:10-31 describes ‘a capable wife’ whose ‘value is far more than that of corals.’ It would be beneficial for all wives, especially those newly married, to study this material carefully. Let us consider some highlights, beginning at Pr 31 verse 14:
“‘She has proved to be like the ships of a merchant. From far away she brings in her food.’ I can just see your wife traveling a good distance with her shopping cart to search out bargains in the stores. And how necessary that is today with prices continually rising.
“Pr 31 Verses 15 and 17 point out: ‘She also gets up while it is still night, and gives food to her household. . . . She has girded her hips with strength, and she invigorates her arms.’ What could call for more vigor in a woman than keeping a house neat and clean, caring for children and preparing tasty, economical meals on time? Add to this, sewing of buttons on clothes, darning socks and all the other things required of a good homemaker and you realize that a wife has a big job.
“But how rewarding for a wife who puts the counsel of God’s Word to work in her life! Pr 31 Verse 30 states: ‘Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.’ What a fine reward! A woman whose conduct shows that she fears Jehovah procures praise from her husband, from those acquainted with her, and, most importantly, from God himself.”
Counsel for Happy Marriage Available to You
A wedding talk is not the only occasion for Jehovah’s witnesses to receive counsel on these matters. Their magazines, books and booklets regularly discuss marriage and the responsibilities of family members toward one another. Some recent articles of this type appearing in The Watchtower and Awake! were entitled “Is God in Your Marriage?”, “Woman’s Regard for Headship—How Demonstrated?”, “Is Divorce the Answer?”.
Jehovah’s witnesses not only read this kind of material on a personal basis, but frequently study it at their congregation meetings. In fact, just recently they studied together the articles “Are Your Children Christ’s Disciples?” and “Finding Joy in Training Children,” which appeared in The Watchtower. Would you enjoy attending such Bible discussions at your local Kingdom Hall? You are cordially invited. In fact, feel free to contact Jehovah’s witnesses at any time.
Getting marriage off to a good start is an important factor in a healthy, enduring relationship. Even if you have been married for many years, applying Bible principles will result in a happier, more meaningful marriage and family life.