Well, Cori, you are just a few weeks away from your wedding day. And I just want to say it is a privilege to talk to you today about the whole idea of marriage and what God says about it. As you look around this room, you are surrounded by 420 (we added the years of the ladies present) years of marriage experience. Wow! And, Cori, these are women who love you and love Josh and I know that most if not all of them are willing to come alongside and encourage you…just as Titus 2 says…to love your husband, and to love your children (if God so provides) and to be sensible and pure and kind and a worker at home who does not dishonor the Word of God. But you know what? Even though there is a lot of marriage experience here, none of us has arrived. Not one of us knows all there is to know about marriage or puts all of it into perfect practice…because it is a learning and growing process.
In fact, as I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you tonight, I got to thinking about all of the things that I DIDN’T know when Brad and I said “I do.” And there were SO MANY things I didn’t know. As I said…I’m still learning. =)
Now, I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, and Brad and I weren’t believers when we were married, so I didn’t have any idea whatsoever as to what the Biblical role of a wife looked like. In fact, I don’t think I even thought very much about what my responsibilities would be or even what Brad’s expectations were of me as his wife. I had a very romantic, very fictional, and very delusional image of what our lives would be like once we were married. I thought we would be the perfect TV family where all difficulties of life are worked out in 23 minutes and end with everyone smiling and happy.
And that’s because our marriage was largely built on a foundation of feelings and attraction to one another—we just enjoyed each other’s company. And that’s a good thing. But as we soon found out, that was a foundation that wasn’t very sturdy or enduring. Feelings are like the sea tide…they come and they go…depending on the circumstances.
But you and Josh have a big advantage…both of you have claimed faith in Jesus Christ…both of you have acknowledged that you are sinners and that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sin and that by faith you have been given new life in Christ. Because of that, you have great privileges—BUT you also have great responsibilities to live in light of that. But, you know, one of the best thing about being believers is that God will never ask you to do anything that He will not also enable you to accomplish.
And so, Cori, I just want to talk to you a little bit about the things that you will need to know as a wife. And if you forget everything else I say tonight, remember this one thing: your marriage will unfold one day at a time. You don’t have to know everything you need to know for the next 40 years. Elizabeth Elliott gives this advice, “Just do the next right thing. And then the next right thing after that.” If you remember that and put it into practice, you will do well.
Now, as a woman and as a wife, you will have a unique position in your new family. You will truly be the heart of the family. We’ve all heard the saying, “If mama ain’t happy—ain’t nobody happy.” And in many ways that’s true. We women set the tone in our homes.
So the most important relationship in your new marriage will not be the one you have with Josh. It will be your relationship with the Lord—that is to be THE primary focus of your life. Nothing and no one…not even Josh…should come before Christ. Now that doesn’t mean you go off and do church things seven days a week and leave your husband to fend for himself. That’s not biblical. But your personal relationship with Christ…being in the Word, spending time in prayer, with Him as the Lord of your life…is to govern all you do. And that includes your relationship with Josh. If your relationship with the Lord isn’t in order, then it’s kind of ridiculous to think you will have a good and successful marriage.
And how do we, as believers, measure success? We measure it by our obedience to what God has called us to do. See apart from Christ, there is no motivation or ability to be and to do what God commands for our family.
Psalm 19:7-11. The Word of God is the most valuable resource you will have in becoming a good wife. Plan a specific time each day to read Scripture and pray so that you have the fuel and motivation to be who God wants you to be. Only when we love Him MORE than our family, can we really love our family as God intended.
See, the Word of God is to be your standard in everything. As a woman of God you shouldn’t be getting marriage advice from Oprah or Dr. Phil. As I said before, you are surrounded by godly older women who love the Lord and by God’s design, they are your human resource in teaching you to pattern your life and your home according to God’s standard.
And along those lines, spend time daily praying for Josh. Pray for his leadership, his godliness, his responsibility as the provider, pray for his wisdom in decisions, pray for his trials and his triumphs. It will endear him to you like nothing else can. One thing that will help you in praying for Josh is to become a good listener. You may learn more about center pivots and growing corn that you ever wanted to know. But you will also learn what concerns him and how you can best pray for him.
And then, it will be important to put Josh and his interests before your own. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion or that you will be subservient to his every whim. But true love is demonstrated by self-LESS-ness. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to be humble, gentle, patient, and forbearing, always putting the interest of others and what is best for them as the first evidence of our love toward them.
Also, forgiveness is not an option. NEWS FLASH! You are marrying a sinner…and so is he. And when you put two sinners together, there will be ample opportunity to exercise forgiveness…on both sides. Your new family will not function in the way God intended if there isn’t genuine forgiveness displayed…the same brand of forgiveness God has shown us through Christ…complete and total. It is one of the most sincere ways we put others first.
And then, you are to love Josh. Now I know you love him, you wouldn’t be marrying him if you didn’t. But there will be days ahead when he may not seem so loveable. And I’m not talking about romantic or sexual love…even though those kinds of love have their place in the marriage. And it is important for you to be ready to fulfill Josh’s needs in that area.
But beyond that, there is a determined, willing and obedient love. And it isn’t based on Josh’s worthiness. Even if he is unloving or uncaring at times, you still need to be committed to making a conscience choice to love him—characterized by complete devotion to the ONE and ONLY husband that God has sovereignly given to you. It’s a self-sacrificing love that doesn’t seek anything in return, but is simply an obedient response to God’s command. It is doing loving things for Josh even if at times you don’t feel like it. But if you obediently love Josh, the feelings will follow.
In that same light, you need to have the mindset of being submissive to your husband. As we all know, God has established a system of authority within the family, with the husband as the head of the home. The reason for that? Well, it isn’t because men are superior to women. It is simply to keep the home from being in disarray. Every successful enterprise needs someone to be in leadership. Now I do think that God gives men supernatural wisdom to lead the family. As I’ve seen my husband function in our 42 years of marriage, he has a sense of wisdom that I just don’t have. Women function primarily in the realm of emotions. Men function outside of their emotions. They are generally rational in their decision making process and I believe God created them that way because it was His intention from the get go for them to lead. So follow Josh’s leadership. There will be times when you disagree with Josh’s decisions, but as you voluntarily follow, he will gain confidence in leading and will mature in his role. And you will see, time and again, God’s protection over you through the leadership of your husband.
Another thing that is important as a wife is making your home a refuge for Josh…a place where he can relax and be refreshed. Your role is to be a HOME maker, creating a safe haven away from the pressures of the world. For my husband it means helping Brad to get away from work for a while; it means spending time with him; it may mean watching a war movie with him or going out for dinner (the sacrifices are endless). But whatever YOUR husband’s needs are, that’s what you should be doing. Does that mean it’s a sin for you to occasionally go somewhere without him on a weekend or in the evening? No…the Bible doesn’t speak directly to that. But if it’s his preference for you to be with him, that’s what you should do.
And this same principle applies to your physical relationship with Josh. Even on those days when you are tired or may not especially be interested in fulfilling his sexual needs, meeting his needs is still your responsibility. Give Josh the best part of your day, not the leftovers. Before he gets home from work, it might be a good idea to wash your face, refresh your makeup, comb your hair and put on a clean shirt. You don’t want to greet him at the door with the evidence of your day all over you.
And then, keep in mind that if your relationship with Christ is your first responsibility and Josh is your second, then your parents and your siblings on both sides fall somewhere behind that. You may see your families often, Josh certainly will in working on the farm. But your responsibilities and relationship to each other trump your relationship to your parents. And…Lois, you have experience in this area…but your folks will need to let you two leave and cleave, establishing your own home with your own traditions and your own ways of doing things. Holidays may be different than they used to be, and that’s okay. Now, I will give you a little hint here: moms and mother-in-laws love to be invited over occasionally. But this is your time to establish the Josh and Cori household without feeling pressure to do things a certain way.
Finally, have FUN! It’s what brought you together. Enjoy each other and look forward to being together as the months and years pass. Josh is to be your BFF…REALLY.
So, Cori, if I could sum all of this up in one short little piece of advice it would be this: (and this is something I learned from my dear friend, Sandy Frahm, Josh’s aunt, my Sista) Be the kind of wife that would make it impossible for Josh to replace you with someone better.