Hubby and I are getting ready to do some marriage preparation with a couple getting married at our church in January. She’s from our church, he’s from Bristol.
What is marriage preparation? It’s not wedding planning. It’s a few sessions helping a couple prepare for their marriage – the (hopefully) many years they will be together. It covers some key areas like what is marriage, communication in marriage, resolving conflict in marriage, and so on. It is a chance to consider those questions you may not have previously considered like who will do the ironing (I need to do the ironing later…), who will wash up (hubby’s currently washing up…), how many children you want to have. It helps us to think about what it will be like to live with another person and love and serve them.
It’s quite a strange feeling to be leading someone through marriage prep. I don’t quite feel old enough or experienced enough at marriage to prepare someone else for it! Having said that, we have been married for four years and when we did marriage prep I think the couple leading us had been married about that long. But, no offence to them, they seemed so much older and more mature than us! And even now if we were to do marriage prep with them that would still seem to be the case!
Thankfully we’re not doing this alone. Our Pastor and his wife are helping out. It’s good experience for us because we can then lead others through it on our own, and it takes some of the load from our Pastor.
Whilst looking through the material and working out how best to work through it in the little time available, I am completely challenged about our marriage. We don’t have a perfect marriage – does anyone? We are two selfish people who live together and serve each other and, as Christians, are meant to do the following:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
(Note: looks harder for the guys than for the girls!)
Yesterday we were at a lovely wedding in Oxford where we were reminded of those two sayings required in marriage – ‘I’m sorry’, and ‘I forgive you.’ Very important! And thanks to God’s grace we can continue to love and serve each other.
So preparing this marriage preparation is a good way for us to look at our marriage, say ‘sorry’ where necessary, say ‘I forgive you’ where necessary, and to prayerfully consider where we need to make changes.
I hope that we do help this couple to prepare well for their marriage, however inexperienced we might feel and knowing that our marriage is not perfect. Perhaps that’s a good thing – we can learn together and show that marriage won’t be perfect until THE big day:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”