And they lived happily ever after. We have probably heard a few stories with this ending. Of course the story is of a prince and princess who fall in love and eventually get married and the story stops right there! If the truth were told though, the wedding is the beginning and the life begins thereafter.
We all know that happiness is not handed to us on a silver platter. It is something we work toward every day. We are often tested and tried along the way. Let’s look at some of the tests we might encounter as we live together with our spouse and for God.
The test of adjustment.
Life is filled with adjustments, and marriage is the king of them! This is probably so because marriage is such an intimate relationship. Most importantly, there is the emotional adjustment. Sometimes the demands of one to another are so unreasonable that the other might not be able to adjust from what they were before marriage. Other adjustments include sexual adjustment, family connections, and money matters. It is good for couples to list things they had to adjust or would like for their mate to adjust in order for the marriage to be the best it can. For example: tidiness, neatness, attractiveness, the courtesies of life, and expressions of gratitude, and appreciation.
The test of loyalty.
Everyone appreciates loyalty. We want it in the church, community, state, nation, and in our homes. Although it is unwanted and disliked, disloyalty often creeps into marriages and eats at them until they dissolve in divorce. It certainly does not help that encouragement for the spouse to be disloyal to his/her mate is promoted through TV, magazines, Internet, and the everyday walks of life. In spite of all the pagan influences in the world, we can guard our marriages by feeding our relationships with love and compassion. Our relationships are like hardy plants – if we take care of their roots, we can enjoy their wonderful fruits!
The test of respect for personality.
God made all of us different from all others. The husband and wife are no exception. That is, they are not carbon copies of one another. They are however to complement one another. Husbands learn and live by the Word (Ephesians 5:24; 1 Peter 3:7). Wives, as well, learn and live by the Word (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). Although in submission to their husbands, a wife has first obligation to God (1 Corinthians 7:15). Sharp words, rude manners, harmful language, and lack of respect for one’s privacy as a person will eat away at marital happiness.
The test of in-laws.
Consider all the jokes you have heard or told dealing with in-laws. The fact that there are in-law jokes infers that this is a problem area. It should be remembered that when one marries, he/she marries into a new family. However, the relationship between the husband and wife should take precedence over all others, even children and parents! The father and mother of the bride and groom must take second place (Matthew 19:6; Genesis 2:24). In a Christian home, in-laws can be a great source of joy and help for a happy, successful marriage.
The test of children.
Knowing that children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3), this test might seem to be a paradox. One of the divine purposes for marriage is procreation. Children help bind husband and wife closer together, but on the proverbial other hand, a child might bring some basic differences to the surface. Children involve sacrifice of time, money, and thought (Ephesians 6:1-4). Some couples resent these losses. Having children is not something to take lightly, or a decision that is made on a whim.
The test of money.
Who has not encountered this test?! Counselors say that 1 of 5 arguments in the home is about money. Emphasis should not be put on earthly things. Someone said, “Man needs but little here below, nor needs that little long.” The Bible teaches us to be frugal and thrifty (Ephesians 4:28; John 6:12). A good rule of thumb is, waste not, want not. Happy is the family whose members spend not beyond their income, who do not have sudden terror at the coming of the first of the month. For more joy can be gained from a little, than from much unnecessary stuff, with unpaid bills behind it.– Kirk Talley