Last Friday one of my younger brothers got married.
He has no friends, and so I got the job of best man. Obviously the trademark of a best man is the speech – I have to be honest I found this a very difficult task. You have to be funny but sincere, relate memories but embellish them a little, criticise but not cause the bride to immediately regret her decision, bring to light revelations but not be inappropriate. It is a tall order.
I imagine many of our readers don’t know my brother and so I won’t bore you with the speech. However, I would like to pass on the advice I passed onto my brother. It is simple advice, and you have probably heard it before, but I believe it to be important advice and so repetition is no bad thing.
There are three pieces of advice I ended my speech with:
- Resolve problems between yourselves first
If you didn’t disagree during your wedding planning and marriage classes, you will soon after you are married. It is inevitable that when two sinners live in close quarters with each other that there will be differences of opinion.
It is important that when these disagreements, fights and fall-outs happen that you resolve the problem between yourselves first.
I am not neglecting the wisdom and experience of parents, friends and family. I praise God for all of the godly married couples I have learned from and who have helped my wife, Tracy, and I by passing on advice. However, when you have a difference of opinion with your spouse those people should not be your first port of call – your spouse should.
If your family, parents or friends are your first port of call when difficulties arise your marriage will no longer include just two people. If, in the ‘heat of battle’, you include others in your complaints about your spouse there are no longer only two people dealing with an issue.
Subsequently, when you and your spouse come to resolve the problem it will not be the two of you discussing it – it will be you plus your mum and them plus their friend. This is difficult terrain to negotiate.
Tracy and I realised that we were falling into this trap when we discussed problems with sentences like ‘my sister said…’, ‘Tim Keller explains…’, ‘my mum told me…’ We were bringing additional people into our marriage.
Resolve your problems between yourselves first.
- Talk to each other
This may sound like a strange one, and I know Tracy and I found this a strange one.
Before you get married you don’t live together – this means that you spend lots of time apart, and when you are together there is always a ‘home-time’. Therefore, what time spent together is often spent talking – relating stories, planning the next date, telling jokes, complaining about work, etc.
You would imagine this would only increase as you move in together, but strangely enough the opposite happens. As you move in together all of a sudden you are with each other all the time. You go to bed together, you wake up together, you eat together, you watch TV together, etc.
This means you can’t say ‘I watched this amazing programme last night, let me tell you all about it’ because the likelihood is that your spouse was sitting beside you watching it too.
This means that when you get married and move in together it is vitally important to work hard at finding things to talk about, and then talk about those together. This is only exacerbated by tiredness and familiarity. Therefore making it all the more important to be aware of it.
Communication is the key to maintaining a relationship – so ensure that you communicate with each other, and often with words.
Talk to each other.
- Read Scripture and Pray
This is the life blood of a Christian marriage.
If you approached any Christian couple that you knew and asked them how often they read and prayed together they would probably say ‘not enough’ (at least if they were being honest). I know that Tracy and I find it a constant struggle in our marriage – to carve out time to read and pray and then to cultivate the energy and desire to do it.
It will be a constant battle to create time to do this, especially as children, job promotions and aging family members come along. Nevertheless, it is something that must happen in a Christian marriage.
Whether you manage to do it every week, once a month or once every six weeks – it must be something that you do. It is of no benefit to put it off until you will be able to do it every week.
Reading Scripture and praying together is a wonderful exercise and creates a marriage strengthening bond between husband and wife, and between husband and wife and God. Hence, it is vital that we read Scripture and pray together.
All of this advice came off the back of those words uttered by God in the Garden of Eden, ‘Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24 ESV).
There was a new family unit created that day, and each and every time two people join in marriage a new family unit is created (Mt. 19:5; Eph. 5:31). In the creation of a new family unit there is an opportunity to put into practice these actions I have mentioned above.
My wife, Tracy, and I have tried (and often failed) – but when we implement these things into our marriage we notice the difference. My humble advice to my brother and now to you is to implement these things yourself in your marriage – you will notice the difference.