Find Joy in Your Marriage
“By wisdom a household will be built up, and by discernment it will prove firmly established.”—PROV. 24:3.
1. How did God show wisdom regarding the first man?
OUR wise heavenly Father knows what is good for us. For example, God recognized that for His purpose to be accomplished, it was “not good for the man to continue by himself” in the garden of Eden. A key element of that purpose was for married people to have children and “fill the earth.”—Gen. 1:28; 2:18.
2. What arrangement did Jehovah make for the benefit of mankind?
2 “I am going to make a helper for him,” said Jehovah, “as a complement of him.” God then had the first man fall into a deep sleep, and from his perfect body He took a rib and built that into a woman. When Jehovah brought this perfect woman, Eve, to Adam, the man said: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken.” Eve was truly a complement of Adam. Each would display particular attributes and qualities, yet both were perfect and made in God’s image. Thus Jehovah arranged the first marriage. Adam and Eve had no trouble accepting this divine arrangement that would provide mutual help and support.—Gen. 1:27; 2:21-23.
3. How do many treat the gift of marriage, leading to what questions?
3 Sadly, a rebellious spirit permeates the world today. The problems it engenders do not originate with God. Many scorn God’s gift of marriage, considering it to be out-of-date, a source of frustration or conflict. Among many who do marry, divorce is common. Children may not be shown natural affection and may become bargaining chips in marital disputes. Many parents refuse to yield, even for the sake of peace and unity. (2 Tim. 3:3) How, then, can joy in marriage be maintained in these critical times? What role does being yielding play in successfully resisting any marriage breakup? What can we learn from modern-day examples of those who have maintained joy in their marriage?
Yielding to Jehovah’s Direction
4. (a) What direction did Paul give about marriage? (b) How do obedient Christians follow Paul’s direction?
4 The Christian apostle Paul gave inspired direction to widows that if they chose to remarry, they should do so “only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39) This was not a new thought for Christians who had a Jewish background. God’s Law to Israel clearly directed that they were to “form no marriage alliance” with anyone from the surrounding pagan nations. Jehovah added an explanation that highlights the danger of disregarding this divine standard. “For [a non-Israelite] will turn your son from following me, and they will certainly serve other gods; and Jehovah’s anger will indeed blaze against you, and he will certainly annihilate you in a hurry.” (Deut. 7:3, 4) What stand does Jehovah expect his modern-day servants to take in this regard? Plainly, a servant of God should choose as a marriage mate one who is “in the Lord,” a dedicated, baptized fellow worshipper. Yielding to Jehovah’s direction in connection with this choice is the wise course.
5. How do Jehovah and married Christians view marriage vows?
5 Marriage vows are sacred in God’s eyes. In reference to the first marriage, God’s own Son, Jesus, stated: “What God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matt. 19:6) The psalmist reminds us of the seriousness of vows: “Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, and pay to the Most High your vows.” (Ps. 50:14) Although great joy can lie ahead for a married couple, the vows exchanged on the wedding day are serious and bring responsibility.—Deut. 23:21.
6. We can learn what from the example of Jephthah?
6 Consider the case of Jephthah, who served as judge in Israel in the 12th century B.C.E. He made this vow to Jehovah: “If you without fail give the sons of Ammon into my hand, it must also occur that the one coming out, who comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, must also become Jehovah’s, and I must offer that one up as a burnt offering.” On seeing that it was his daughter, his only child, who came out to meet him on his return to his home in Mizpah, did Jephthah seek to break his vow? No. He said: “I have opened my mouth to Jehovah, and I am unable to turn back.” (Judg. 11:30, 31, 35) Jephthah kept his promise to Jehovah, even though this meant that he would have no descendant to carry on his name. Jephthah’s vow was of a different sort than wedding vows, but his keeping it serves as a fine example for Christian husbands and wives as to their vows.
What Makes a Successful Marriage?
7. What adjustments do newlyweds need to make?
7 Many married couples think back on their courtship with great fondness. How delightful it was to get to know their future mate! The more time they spent together, the closer they became. But, whether their marriage followed a period of courtship or was arranged, when they finally became husband and wife, adjustments were vital. One husband admits: “The major problem we had at the beginning of our marriage was to realize that we were not single anymore. For a while we found it difficult to keep our friendships and family ties in the right place.” Another husband, now married for 30 years, realized early in his marriage that to be balanced, he had to “think plural.” Before accepting an invitation or taking on a commitment, he consults with his wife and then decides, taking into consideration their mutual interests. In such a situation, being yielding helps.—Prov. 13:10.
8, 9. (a) Why is good communication important? (b) In what areas will flexibility be of help, and why?
8 Sometimes marriage unites two people who are from different cultural backgrounds. Here especially there is a need to communicate openly. Styles of communication differ. Observing how your marriage mate talks with relatives can help you understand your spouse better. At times, it is not what is said but how it is conveyed that reveals a person’s inner thinking. And much may be learned from what is not said. (Prov. 16:24; Col. 4:6) Discernment is vital for happiness.—Read Proverbs 24:3.
9 When it comes to choosing hobbies and recreation, many have found it important to be flexible. Before marriage your spouse may have spent time in sports or other recreational pursuits. Would some adjustment now be appropriate? (1 Tim. 4:8) The same might be asked about time spent with relatives. Understandably, a married couple need time so that they can pursue spiritual and other activities together.—Matt. 6:33.
10. How will being yielding contribute to good relations between parents and married children?
10 When a man marries, he leaves his father and his mother, and much the same can be said of a woman. (Read Genesis 2:24.) Still, the divine guidance to honor one’s father and mother comes with no time limit. So even after a couple marry, they will likely spend some time with their parents and in-laws. One husband, married for 25 years, notes: “At times, it is difficult to balance the various wishes and needs of one’s mate with those of one’s parents, siblings, and in-laws. In deciding how best to act, I have found Genesis 2:24 helpful. One owes loyalty to and has responsibilities toward other family members, yet this verse showed me that loyalty to my spouse takes precedence.” Accordingly, Christian parents who are yielding will respect that their married children are now in a family unit in which the husband is principally responsible for guiding that family.
11, 12. Why are family study and prayer important for married couples?
11 A good routine of family study is essential. The experience of many Christian families bears out that fact. It may not be easy to establish such a study or to maintain it over time. One family head acknowledges: “If we could go back and change anything, it would be to make sure that we stuck to a good routine of family study from the start of our marriage.” He adds: “It is such a wonderful gift to observe the joy my wife expresses when moved by some spiritual gem we find together in our study.”
12 Praying together is another aid. (Rom. 12:12) When husband and wife are united in the worship of Jehovah, their close relationship with God can strengthen the bond they enjoy in marriage. (Jas. 4:8) One Christian husband explains: “Quickly apologizing for mistakes and mentioning those errors when praying together is a way of showing sincere sorrow over even a minor matter that causes upset.”—Eph. 6:18.
Be Yielding Within the Marriage
13. What advice did Paul give on intimate relations in marriage?
13 Married Christians need to avoid practices that degrade marital relations, such as those that are so common in today’s sex-mad world. On this subject, Paul counseled: “Let the husband render to his wife her due; but let the wife also do likewise to her husband. The wife does not exercise authority over her own body, but her husband does; likewise, also, the husband does not exercise authority over his own body, but his wife does.” Then Paul provided this clear direction: “Do not be depriving each other of it, except by mutual consent for an appointed time.” Why? “That you may devote time to prayer and may come together again, that Satan may not keep tempting you for your lack of self-regulation.” (1 Cor. 7:3-5) In mentioning prayer, Paul shows the priorities for a Christian. But he also made clear that each married Christian should be sensitive to the physical and emotional needs of his or her mate.
14. How do Scriptural principles apply with regard to intimate relations in marriage?
14 Husband and wife need to be open with each other and realize that a lack of tenderness in intimate relations can lead to problems. (Read Philippians 2:3, 4; compare Matthew 7:12.) This has proved true in some religiously divided families. Even if differences exist, the Christian can usually improve matters by good conduct, kindness, and cooperation. (Read 1 Peter 3:1, 2.) Love for Jehovah and for one’s mate, combined with a yielding spirit, will help in this aspect of marriage.
15. Respect plays what part in a happy marriage?
15 In other aspects too, the kind husband will treat his wife with respect. For example, he will take her feelings into account, even in small matters. One husband of 47 years admits: “I am still learning in this regard.” Christian wives are admonished to have deep respect for their husbands. (Eph. 5:33) Speaking negatively about their husbands, highlighting their faults in front of others, hardly shows respect. Proverbs 14:1 reminds us: “The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.”
Do Not Yield to the Devil
16. How can couples apply Ephesians 4:26, 27 in their marriage?
16 “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.” (Eph. 4:26, 27) When applied, these words can help us to solve or to avoid marital discord. “I don’t remember ever having a disagreement and not talking it over with my husband even if this meant spending hours resolving the matter,” recalls one sister. At the start of their marriage, she and her husband determined that they would not end the day without solving their differences. “We decided, no matter what the problem was, to forgive and forget and give each day a fresh start.” They thus refused to “allow place for the Devil.”
17. Even when marriage mates do not seem well-matched, what may help?
17 But what if you entered into a marriage arrangement unwisely? You may now find yourself in a relationship that may not seem as romantic as others enjoy. Still, your remembering the Creator’s view of the marriage bond will help you. Under inspiration, Paul counseled Christians: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Heb. 13:4) And not to be overlooked are the words: “A threefold cord cannot quickly be torn in two.” (Eccl. 4:12) When both husband and wife are deeply concerned with the sanctification of Jehovah’s name, they are bonded to each other and bonded to God. They ought to work at making their marriage a success, knowing that this will reflect well on Jehovah, the Originator of marriage.—1 Pet. 3:11.
18. Of what can you be sure regarding marriage?
18 It certainly is possible for Christians to find joy in marriage. To do so takes effort and the displaying of Christian qualities, one of which is being yielding. Today, in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the globe, there are countless married couples who prove that it can be done.
How Would You Answer?
• Why is finding joy in marriage not unrealistic?
• What can help a marriage to succeed?
• What qualities do marriage mates need to develop?
[Picture on page 9]
Married couples wisely communicate before accepting an invitation or making an appointment
[Picture on page 10]
Strive to settle disagreements the same day, not ‘allowing place for the Devil’