“A threefold cord cannot quickly be torn apart.”​—ECCLESIASTES 4:12.

1, 2. (a) What do newly married people hope for? (b) What questions will we discuss in this chapter?

PICTURE a happy bride and groom on their wedding day. They are excited about their future life and are full of hopes and dreams. They hope their marriage will be long and joyful.

2 However, many marriages that start out well do not stay that way. For a marriage to last and be happy, a couple needs guidance from God. So let us discuss the Bible’s answer to these questions: What are some benefits of marriage? If you marry, how can you choose your partner well? How can you be a good husband or wife? And what can help a marriage to last?​—Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.

SHOULD I GET MARRIED?

3. Do you think that a person needs to get married to be happy? Explain.

3 Some believe that a person cannot be happy unless he or she gets married. But this is not true. Jesus said that singleness can be a gift. (Matthew 19:11, 12) And the apostle Paul said that there are advantages  to being single. (1 Corinthians 7:32-38) It is up to you whether you choose to marry. You should not allow your friends, family, or culture to pressure you into getting married.

4. What are some advantages of a good marriage?

4 The Bible says that marriage too is a gift from God and that it has some advantages. Jehovah said of the first man, Adam: “It is not good for the man to continue to be alone. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” (Genesis 2:18) Jehovah created Eve to be Adam’s wife, and they became the first human family. If a couple have children, their marriage should create a stable environment in which they can raise them. But having children is not the only purpose of marriage.​—Psalm 127:3; Ephesians 6:1-4.

5, 6. How can a marriage be like “a threefold cord”?

5 King Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their hard work. For if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up. But what will happen to the one who falls with no one to help him up? . . . And a threefold cord cannot quickly be torn apart.”​—Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

6 A good marriage can be the closest of friendships between two people who help, comfort, and protect each other. Love can make a marriage strong, but the marriage will become even stronger when a husband and wife worship Jehovah. Then their marriage can become like “a threefold cord,” a  rope of three strands tightly woven together. A rope like that is much stronger than a rope of only two strands. A marriage will be strong when Jehovah is part of it.

7, 8. What advice did Paul give about marriage?

7 After a couple get married, they can enjoy satisfying each other’s natural sexual desires. (Proverbs 5:18) However, if a person gets married only to satisfy these desires, he or she may not choose a partner wisely. That’s why the Bible says marriage should take place after a person is past “the bloom of youth,” the time in life when sexual desires are especially strong. (1 Corinthians 7:36) It is better to wait to marry until those feelings calm down. Then a person can think more clearly and make a better choice.​—1 Corinthians 7:9; James 1:15.

8 If you are thinking about getting married, it’s good to be realistic and aware that every marriage will have challenges. Paul said that those who marry “will have tribulation in their flesh.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) Even the best marriage will go through difficult times. So if you decide that you want to marry, be sure to choose your mate wisely.

WHOM SHOULD I MARRY?

9, 10. What would happen if we married someone who does not worship Jehovah?

9 Here is an important Bible principle to remember when choosing a husband or a wife: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” (2 Corinthians 6:14) This illustration is based on a practice  used in farming. If two animals are very different in size or strength, a farmer does not yoke them together to work in the fields. That would not be kind to either animal because both would suffer. In a similar way, a marriage between someone who worships Jehovah and someone who does not will likely result in many problems. So the Bible gives us the wise advice to marry “only in the Lord.”​—1 Corinthians 7:39.

10 At times, some Christians have felt that they would rather marry someone who does not worship Jehovah than be alone. But if we ignore Bible counsel, the result is often pain and unhappiness. As Jehovah’s worshippers, serving him is the most important thing in our life. How would you feel if you could not share that most important part of your life with your mate? Many have decided to stay single rather than marry a person who does not love and serve Jehovah.​—Read Psalm 32:8.

11. How can you choose your marriage mate well?

11 This does not mean that just anyone who serves Jehovah would be a good husband or wife for you. If you are thinking about getting married, look for someone you really like and get along well with. Wait until you find someone who wants to do the same things in life that you want to do and who puts serving God first. Take time to read and meditate on the helpful advice on marriage provided in publications from the faithful slave.​—Read Psalm 119:105.

12. What can we learn about arranged marriages from the Bible?

 12 In some cultures, it is common for parents to choose a marriage mate for their son or daughter. It is felt that parents know who will be best for their child. This custom was common in Bible times as well. So if your family chooses to follow such a custom, the Bible can help parents know what qualities to look for. For example, when Abraham chose a wife for his son Isaac, his priority was not money or social standing; it was that she loved Jehovah.​—Genesis 24:3, 67; see Endnote 25.

 HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR MARRIAGE?

13-15. (a) How can a man prepare to be a good husband? (b) How can a woman prepare to be a good wife?

13 If you are thinking about getting married, make sure that you’re ready. You may think you are, but let’s discuss what it really means to be prepared for marriage. The answer may surprise you.

Take time to read and meditate on the advice God’s Word provides about marriage

14 The Bible shows that husbands and wives have different roles in the family. So it makes sense that being ready for marriage will mean something different depending on whether you are male or female. If a man is thinking of getting married, he needs to ask himself if he is ready to be the head of a family. Jehovah expects a husband to look after his wife and children materially and emotionally. Most important, the husband needs to take the lead in his family’s worship of God. The Bible describes a man who does not take care of his family as “worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) So if you are a man who is thinking about getting married, think of how this Bible principle can apply: “Prepare your outside work, and get everything ready in the field; then build your house.” In other words, before you get married, make sure that you can be the kind of husband Jehovah requires you to be.​—Proverbs 24:27.

15 A woman who is thinking about getting married needs to ask herself if she is ready for the responsibilities of being a wife and perhaps a mother. The Bible mentions some of the many ways a good  wife takes care of her husband and children. (Proverbs 31:10-31) Today, many men and women think only of what a marriage mate would do for them. But Jehovah wants us to think of what we can do for our mate.

16, 17. If you are thinking of getting married, what should you meditate on?

16 Before you get married, meditate on what Jehovah says about husbands and wives. Being the head of the family does not mean that a man can be a bully, either physically or emotionally. A good family head imitates Jesus, who is always loving and kind to those under his care. (Ephesians 5:23) For her part, a woman needs to think about what it will mean to support her husband’s decisions and cooperate with him. (Romans 7:2) She needs to ask herself if she could be happy submitting to an imperfect man. If she does not think she could, she may decide that it’s better for her to remain single for now.

17 Husbands and wives need to care more about their mate’s happiness than their own. (Read Philippians 2:4.) Paul wrote: “Each one of you must love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:21-33) Both men and women need to feel loved and respected. But for a marriage to work well, a man especially needs to know that his wife respects him, and a woman especially needs to know that her husband loves her.

18. Why do couples need to be careful during courtship?

 18 Courtship should be an enjoyable time for a couple as they get to know each other better. It is also a time for them to be realistic and honest so that they can decide if they really want to spend their life together. During courtship, a man and a woman learn to communicate with each other and try to learn what is really in each other’s heart. As their relationship deepens, it is natural for them to feel physically attracted to each  other. But they need to control how they express these feelings before they get married so that they do not do something immoral. True love will help them have self-control and will keep them from doing something that would harm their relationship both with each other and with Jehovah.​—1 Thessalonians 4:6.

During courtship, a man and a woman can learn to communicate with each other

HOW CAN I MAKE MY MARRIAGE LAST?

19, 20. How do Christians view marriage?

19 Many books and movies end with a big, happy wedding. In real life, the wedding is only the beginning. Jehovah intended marriage to be a permanent relationship.​—Genesis 2:24.

20 Today, many view marriage as a temporary arrangement. It’s easy to get married and easy to get divorced. Some feel that when problems start, it’s time to leave their mate and end the marriage. But remember the Bible’s illustration of a strong rope made of three strands woven together. A rope like that will not break even under great pressure. When we look to Jehovah for help, our marriage can last. Jesus said: “What God has yoked together, let no man put apart.”​—Matthew 19:6.

21. What will help a husband and wife to love each other?

21 We all have strengths and weaknesses. It is very easy to focus on the weaknesses of others, especially those of our marriage mate. But if we do this, we will not be happy. On the other hand, if we focus on our mate’s good qualities, we can have a happy  marriage. Is it realistic to have this view of an imperfect mate? Yes! Jehovah knows how imperfect we are, yet he focuses on our good qualities. Imagine if he didn’t! The psalmist said: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, then who, O Jehovah, could stand?” (Psalm 130:3) Husbands and wives can imitate Jehovah by looking for the good in their mate and being quick to forgive.​—Read Colossians 3:13.

22, 23. How did Abraham and Sarah set a good example for married people?

 22 As the years go by, a marriage can become stronger. Abraham and Sarah had a long and happy marriage. When Jehovah told Abraham to leave their home in the city of Ur, Sarah was possibly more than 60 years old. Imagine how difficult it was for her to leave her comfortable home to live in tents. But Sarah was a good friend and partner to her husband, and she really respected him. So she supported Abraham’s decisions and helped to make them a success.​—Genesis 18:12; 1 Peter 3:6.

23 Of course, having a good marriage does not mean that a husband and wife will always agree on everything. Once, when Abraham did not agree with Sarah, Jehovah told him: “Listen to her.” Abraham did so, and the results were good. (Genesis 21:9-13) If at times you and your mate do not agree, don’t get discouraged. The important thing is that even when you disagree, you still treat each other with love and respect.

Make God’s Word part of your marriage from the beginning

24. How can our marriage bring honor to Jehovah?

24 In the Christian congregation, there are thousands of happily married couples. If you want to get married, remember that choosing your mate is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. It will affect the rest of your life, so look to Jehovah for guidance. Then you will be able to choose your mate wisely, prepare well for marriage, and work to build a strong and loving bond that will bring honor to Jehovah.