Dave and Jane were on their way to their first premarital counseling appointment. As a newly engaged couple they were excited to meet with the minister, but they were also pretty nervous.
To break the tension Dave asked, "What are you hoping to get out of these meetings?" This led to a fruitful discussion. They agreed that they wanted help with communication. Dave knew he needed to learn how to communicate (as many men do). Jane wanted to be able to communicate less mysteriously ("So I can understand what you mean," as Dave put it).
They were also beginning to think about the issue of money too. They both agreed that having some wisdom on saving, spending, and perhaps even combining their wages.
Neither openly admitted it, but each secretly hoped that they might pick up some good tips on helping sex to go well too.
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
Needless to say, they were a bit disappointed when the minister said they ought to begin their premarital counseling by talking about God.
As Christopher Ash points out in his book Married for God: Making your marriage the best that it can be, the Bible begins with God and is all about God. And he goes on to state that every marriage be similar. Every marriage must grow out of and be planted in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It should begin with and be all about the Lord and His interests all throughout.
Ash points out that many marriages start off on the wrong foot because they don't have this orientation. Most marriages are self focused.
Most books on marriage do not help in this regard. The best seller, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has as its subtitle, "A Practical Guide to Getting What You Want in Your Relationship."
Do you see the error? It's about getting what YOU want out of YOUR relationship. It would seem that Mars and Venus orbit around ME and not the sun.
Even many Christian books and seminars make the same mistake. They sell themselves as practical guides on how to achieve a "happier" or "more fulfilling" relationship. And sell they do! There is a lot money to be had in the self help, self focused, self gratification marriage line.
It's not that having a happy and fulfilling relationship is bad, or even impossible to achieve. Marriage is a wonderful institution, created for our enjoyment and mutual gratification. It's just that this personal happiness and fulfillment isn't to be our primary focus. It's not to be about me and my happiness.
Marriage is to serve God. It is to be about Him, His purposes, His will, His kingdom, and His desires. Married couples (and those who will be married) should be asking, "What does God want me to be and do here?"
In sum, marriage is far from being about ourselves. It is about denying ourselves. It is a commitment to seeking His pleasure over and against our own.
This is the issues that puts the single person at ease. Singleness is okay, because I'm living for Christ.
This is the answer to those who wonder if their relationship is going to last. Why? Because it is not centered on my own interests. It is centered in who God is to me and what He desires from me.
Those who are courting and asking, "Is this the one? Will I be happy with this person?" may find that their questions are not altogether necessary when they take this perspective.
It is not about you. It's about pleasing the Lord and seeking our satisfaction in what satisfies the Lord.
Today it is common for people to live together and have sexual relations before they get married. The thought is that they need to "test it out" to see if there will be compatibility. It's not surprising that 90% of these relationships don't last.
This common American practice is nothing other than a blind search for fulfillment and happiness in myself and for myself. It is driven by a consumer's perspective: it's is all about ME.
Psalm 105 states the rule by which Christians live : Look to the Lord...seek his face always.
Paul says, "Whether at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him." 2 Cor. 5:9
Neither of these passages are about marriage, per se, but they provide the proper structure for marriage. It is the best counsel one can receive as one gets ready for or lives in their marriage.