Several months ago I was asked to prepare some remarks for a young man who was about to get married to a young woman who I have known for years. We had gathered for a huge meal and afterwards several men in this all-male affair were tasked with dispensing marital advice to the groom. Well I found this the other day and decided to dust it off in preparation for the big event in the Dunnevant family coming up in 60 short days. Any of my married friends out there who have additional insights that I can add to this list, feel free to make suggestions. Please, no cracks about how much trouble Jon is going to have dealing with so opinionated a father-in-law, since he already knows that!
“ It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
1 Corinthians 13:5
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, _________. Since I just celebrated my 29th wedding anniversary, I feel at least partially qualified to dispense marriage advice, primarily…marry the right woman. It certainly worked for me.
But even if you do marry the right woman, it is no guarantee of success, just as your mutual faith in Christ is no guarantee. Pam and I joined Grove Avenue 26 years ago and immediately got involved in a fabulous Sunday school class of young married couples. These were 15 of the most devoted Christian couples we had ever known, committed not only to each other, but to the church as well. 26 years later, 7 of the 15 are divorced. I share this with you as proof that what you are about to embark upon will be the hardest thing you ever do, but done right will enrich your life in amazing ways.
I have prepared a list of suggestions for your consideration. These are principles that Pam and I have found extraordinarily helpful in our 29 years together. Now, just because something appears on this list doesn’t mean that I am always in full compliance. It just means that when I am, things go very well. Some days are better than others.
1. Have a short memory. The verse I quoted above might be the single best verse in the Bible for married couples. “Keep no record of wrongs” is simply golden advice. If I had written this letter to the Corinthians I would have added, “ while you’re at it, keep no record of ANYTHING”. Being married isn’t about keeping score. You don’t do nice things for her so you will earn something nice in return. There is no marriage bank into which you make deposits, no safe deposit box that contains brownie points. You do nice things for her because you love her. Period.
2. The quality of your married life will rise and fall in direct relationship to how well you’re able to banish selfishness from your life.
3. You can either be “right” or you can be “happy”, but seldom at the same time. Winning an argument with your wife is never truly winning.
4. Never criticize your wife in public, even and especially in jest. Trust me young man, there are home wreckers out there, yes even at your church, who are listening to every word you say, waiting for an opportunity.
5. Even though God calls you to be the leader of your home, listen to your wife, and value her council. She is so much smarter than you in so many areas, it’s not even funny. Don’t be a stubborn jerk, listen and obey.
6. Never stop going out on dates.
7. When children come, pay special attention to #6. You married your wife, not your children.
8. Don’t become predictable. Surprise her with gifts, flowers, cards, racy love letters, inappropriate e-mails etc. Take charge of the romantic planning in your relationship. Guard against boredom.
9. Do all the vacuuming, always clean the bathrooms, and always do the dishes after dinner. That way when she tells her friends that she has never vacuumed, cleaned a bathroom, or done dishes after dinner in all the time she’s been married, they will all tell her what you’ve been telling her forever, that you’re a GOD!!
10. Anything worth having in this life is worth fighting for. Your marriage is worth your very best effort. Take nothing for granted.
Pam and I wish you and __________ all the best.