Monday, April 09, 2012

Love and Marriage

Asking in Marriage

Asking in Marriage
by Alexander Dillens  (Belgium, 1821-1877)

This post is in response to the requests that have been sent to me for an article  on marriage. While it certainly does not cover all the scriptures on marriage, I have used a few verses that I believe are helpful.

Marriage has been likened to a ship. Those who enter it will understand what it is made for, and understand that it is designed for turmoil and that part of the voyage may not be smooth. A ship that can only survive in calm waters is not worthy of being called a ship. Some authors have called marriage a bridge which cannot survive unless both the support structure and the bridge exist together. 

While  the concept of endurance and strength make sense in regards to a ship or a bridge, not everyone understands it in marriage. There is a prevalent belief that marriage should only last as long as it is pleasant, and that when hard times come, or when there is no romance, it should be abandoned. The scriptures do not support this.

Home is Where the Heart Is
by Thomas Kinkade

There have been many books about marriage, but I find the best references are the scriptures and the examples of long marriages of people you know, plus the simple way a husband a wife work things out together. Different marriages have different dynamics, and it is not up to anyone to analyze whether that marriage is "working" or not.

 Some married couples like constant communication, and others enjoy quietness, not seeming to need to be constantly discussing everything. Some women like to spend a lot of time sewing, while their husbands may have other interests. None of this necessarily means there is anything wrong with the marriage.  It just means that is the way the couple has worked things out between them, and that is how they are happiest. 

To understand your mate, it is not necessary to analyze their personality or put them in a category of personality types.  It is not necessary to take quizzes to find out if you are having a successful marriage, a practice which may cause doubts and dismay that did not exist before.  To be happy in marriage, it is important to accept your mate as human, and give them room to grow and freedom to be themselves, taking into consideration the way the way they were brought up,  and their likes and dislikes.

Streams of Living Water
by Thomas Kinkade

For husbands.  One verse comes to mind regarding the way a man is to regard his wife. He is to live with her "according to knowledge":

 "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." 1st Peter 3:7

The knowledge of what pleases or displeases his wife will gain him a lot in his relationship. If  he cares how she feels about things, and will find out what she needs or what makes her anxious or upset, he will try to gain knowledge of these things, and bring peace to her life.

Sometimes men do not understand the importance of listening to the opinions and observations of their wives. They will refuse to listen to anything a woman says. These men go through a lot of hardship in their lives because they will not listen to their wives. They may make unwise financial decisions or they create havoc at home because they will not allow their wives to be real help mates to them. What is the use of having a help meet if she is not allowed to be helpful, to warn him, to encourage him, or to share her input in a given situation?  A man who will not listen to his wife is not living with her "according to knowledge," as the scripture commands.
Gingerbread Cottage (tapestry wall hanging) by Thomas Kinkade

He also should give honor to his wife, as the weaker vessel. In our homes are often seen two kinds of vessels for eating. Some are every day dishes and some are made of finer materials and therefore more breakable. In Peter Marshall's Sermon, "The Keepers of the Springs," he refers to women as being made of finer clay. The weaker vessel is one that must be handled with care and put in a place of honor, rather than being  treated harshly. Though a wife is equal to her husband spiritually, she has a different role to live and is of a different nature than a man. Husbands need to live with their wives according to that knowledge. 

The best source of knowledge on how to live with one's wife can come from the  wife herself. No amount of marriage books, therapists, counsellors or ministers can give a husband knowledge of marriage like his own wife. She holds the information in her heart and all he has to do is draw it from her.  

Mountain Retreat
by Thomas Kinkade

I used to puzzle over the next scripture that I'm including here, because I could not imagine how a husband could be bitter against his wife. However, there must be some logical reason that the Holy Spirit found it important to include in the scriptures. It may speak of the tendency in some husbands to resent their wives, but whatever the excuse for a man to be bitter against his wife, the scripture commands him not to.

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

A careful look at this verse will reveal that love comes first, and if a man loves his wife, he will not be inclined to keep a mental list of resentments against her.  First Corinthians, chapter 13 says that love keeps no score of wrongs. Husbands need to be careful not to have too long a memory regarding the mistakes and faults of their wives, for it can wreak havoc later on and interfere in the peace of the home.
Home is Where the Heart Is
by Thomas Kinkade

One way in which a man can live "according to knowledge" with his wife, is to avoid the things which cause tension or disturbance in the heart of the wife. For example, some men will not take their wives seriously when they want a small repair done, or some other irritating thing corrected, until the wives finally tire of asking and then become loud and angry. Some men do not think their wives really "mean it" until they pitch a fit. 

 A wise husband who really wants a good relationship with God, will learn to live with his wife "according to knowledge."  If she tells him something he could do to make her life better, it will increase his knowledge. He can collect the knowledge he needs in order to succeed in marriage, just by listening to his wife or observing  her. 

Tragically, some men make feminists out of their wives by not treating them as equals in marriage. While men and women do have different abilities and different roles in marriage, the Bible teaches that they are "heirs together" in the grace of life. They are equal in God's eyes when they become Christians. In the Lord's kingdom, which is His church, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." 

Cobblestone Bridge
by Thomas Kinkade

For wives:  Here is a verse that commands the older women to teach the younger women to love their husbands.

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children...

An older woman will have been through the hills and valleys of marriage, and may even have suffered the death of her husband. Her life experiences will give her the ability to tell a younger woman what to do to make life good at home. She will know what is important and what is not. She will be able to share her knowledge of caring for the home and the husband, making it a pleasant place for him, so that he may be able to free himself of the world's pressures and enjoy the fruits of his labors. The wife will learn how to protect him from those who would take advantage of him, and how to wisely use the family income.  

Make a Wish Cottage, by Thomas Kinkade

She will learn how to bring peace to his life and she will learn not to compete with him or be envious of him, because she will have her own business of keeper at home (Titus 2:5)  Older women will be able to tell younger women that although their main business is tending to the home, they will not be "stuck" in the home or have any reason to feel that their role is less important than their husband's.  While each person has God-given responsibilities in the home, no role is greater than the other, and each must have respect for the position of the other. A wife can help her husband be a good father and husband and a husband can help his wife be a good wife and mother. They each want the best for one another, so there is no reason to compete.
Seaside Hideaway by Thomas Kinkade

The famous love-chapter of the New Testament, First Corinthians 13, teaches that love "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

When you read in Titus 2 that the older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands, it means that they are to teach you how to make life at home beautiful and bearable, how to enjoy good things and encourage the husband in his life.  It will be important to know how to endure difficulties, as well has how to be patient and kind and how to show other attributes of love found in First Corinthians 13.   Helen Andelin, who wrote Fascinating Womanhood, taught woman that kindness and patience, a non-critical spirit and lack of self-righteousness, would make the difference between a happy marriage and an unhappy one. 

Cobblestone Mill
by Thomas Kinkade

Wives need to know that there will be events in life that will effect the marriage relationship. There may be threats against the home, or there may be financial ups and downs. There may be illness, or they may take on extra responsibilities. They may have business failures, and there may be a lot of moving around the country for one reason or another.

 If the wife will follow what the Bible says she should be doing, as a wife, mother and homemaker, her home life, no matter where she lives,  and no matter what the difficulties in life, will be consistent. She will have developed a reliable  way of life that will give her husband reassurance and stability through all the upheavals.   Sadly, there are some women who do not want to be married "for better or for worse." They only want the "better" and have no determination to stand by their husbands during the difficult times. 

There are times in all marriages when there is no feeling of love, but if they at least stay together under the same roof, they may grow to appreciate things in one another that inspire admiration and loyalty. The wife has power to keep her marriage safe and to protect it from people who want to destroy it. If she will do as the Bible commands, and be a wife, mother and homemaker, she may find great triumph over any troubles that come into the marriage. It is important that love be the center of marriage, which can be manifested through patience, goodness, kindness and other things listed in First Corinthians 13. The verses in this chapter defines love at its best, and it is that kind love that can be applied to marriage.

To print this post for your notebook or to send to a friend, go here.

Please enjoy this song, which I've also added to my playlist.  If you do not want to listen to the entire playlist, go to my playlist link and pick out what you like. It is continuous play, so you don't have to wait to click on each piece.


amulbunny's random thoughts said...

This is a song that I had when I got married back in the dark ages....It's by Ralph Vaughn Williams, as part of a 5 song cycle called 5 Mystical Songs. It's been compared to the Love of Christ for his followers.

RVW also has done many fantasias, such this one on Greensleeves which is known in Christian churches as "What Child is This" at Christmas. He's one of my favorite hymn writers.

I do love the Sinatra Love and Marriage too!

Enjoy spring being sprung.

Lydia said...

I am trying to find the RVW version of it, as I would actually prefer it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this article.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this great post! I also have heard it said that love is a verb. It is something you do, not something you feel. And I think the more loving things you do for your spouse- the more love you feel towards them.

I think there is also a verse in proverbs warning women not to be nagging wives- that it is better to live on a roof. I have seen women ruin great marriages by being excessively nagging.

I personally think the world is a stressful place and the more things we can do to help reduce stress for our husbands the better. They should have a relaxing home environment when they come home from work.

There are two kinds of wives we can be- stress makers or peace makers. We can make our husbands lives more stressful (and one way is by nagging and being contentious) or we can be peace makers (we can make our husbands lives more beautiful and peaceful) by the way we speak to them, by our expectations, by how we keep our home and are careful with money. I try very hard to be a "peace" maker in my husbands life and not a "stress" maker. My husband tells me every day how his life has been the best since he married me and how I am the best wife ever. It is wonderful to feel so cherished and I think all wives can experience that if they are careful to be a source of peace and comfort in their husbands lives instead of a source of stress.

Anonymous said...

The Fascinating Womanhood book can be very helpful to married women.
People sometimes find things to criticize about it, but for women who truly want to stay married, it can be a tremendous help.

Rightthinker said...

Thank you for this post! Marriage used to be understood as an institution of life-long commitment, not based in emotions, as emotions change.

Of course, going through adult life with a companion to whom you are faithfully committed, enduring the up's and down's of life..the blessings, the tribulations, does grow a deep and intense love, which is something that takes time!

Some of the most beautiful marriage stories are those of people who have been married so long, and endured so much..and they are so very "in love" and dependent upon one another in their old age. Marriage is STILL a beautiful, and God designed institution!

God Bless!

Lydia said...

Yes I certainly agree about Fascinating Womanhood. It is full of time-tested true values regarding marriage, and shows how a wife has the key to unlocking happiness in her own marriage. Many people only read a small part of it and then criticise it but it is worth embracing the set of values it lays out.

grateful homemaker said...

Lady Lydia,
Thank you for this lovely post. I have printed it out and am giving it to my engaged daughter and a copy of it will be sent to her wonderful fiancee.
I mentioned before that I am making a collection of my favorite posts of yours and giving each of my daughters (three of them; one married and a mother of three under three, an engaged daughter and a single young adult daughter) a pretty binder with your essays and some additional home management tips in them.
We are probably close in age and from the same church background but your blog has been gently and firmly mentoring me for some time now! Thank you!

Lydia said...

Grateful Homemaker: I'd love to hear more from you sometime!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,

In what ways could you suggest to encourage and support a wonderful husband who dreads going to work because of the relentless pressures and stresses there?

Thank you for any thoughts you may have time to convey.

Anonymous said...


This is perhaps the wisest, most reasonable article from an orthodox Christian perspective that I have ever read on the net!! You are truly gifted dear sister in Christ!! Your words and thoughts are always utterly and refreshingly reasonable (as mentioned above)
and tenderly wise. You touch upon truths other counter-revolutionary blogs/websites/ministries often either ignore or countermand completely. Your exposition of God's intention for marriage is balanced and reminds both men and women of the dignity of this beautiful god-ordained sacrament. Your unpacking of 'the weaker vessel' is also enlightening - perhaps English translation has not done this passage of Scripture justice - perhaps they ought to have chosen 'finer' instead'; fore this is the verse's intent; finer, as in 'Royal albert' as opposed to stoneware, not weaker as in terms of inferior (often the connetation placed upon this verse) or 'flimsier'... Your admonition to husbands is also rare in this arena.

God bless you, dear sister!!

Anonymous said...

Commenter re husband's immensely stressful workplace,

My own husband endured dreadful trials in the workplace that were truly diabolical for some years - workplace bullying/tampering of his tasks/aggressive jumped up little oiks half his age attempting to goad him into physical retaliation (my husband is a patient man, so for this to impact shows how undermining such attacks were. This was not masculine high-spiritedness/practical joking but true molevolant action against him. Furthermore, the toxic environment that stemmed from the highest ranks of management downwards sufuced the entire organisation to the point that noises were made by people who knew better but a documented list of formal complaints never saw the light of day.

All this to say, if your husband is unfortunate enough to find himself in such a workplace, the healthiest route is to quietly look for another source of employment (I know that is a rather nailbiting prospect in the US where your jobless rate is somewhat higher than ours and often medical benefits are pegged to employment (different in Australia) however God can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. This type of caustic environment is unhealthy for him, and for the whole family.

If his situation is not as dire, if it is dread on his part and a sense of nervousness/tiring of the loose talk and boarishness of colleagues etc, or the poor way things are done etc, if he is not the brunt of workplace bullying, to encourage him to be the best he can be in his role at work, to make home a soothing refuge from the insanity of his employment will help a great deal. Also, if he knows he can speak to you and share his concerns with confidence that the lines of communication are always open, this will go a long way to comforting him. Finally, remember the ‘golden fifteen minutes’ when he comes home from work; this is so important – to let him have his space, pick up the paper, look at the news, have something to eat and drink, to just be and let the harships of the day trickle off of his shoulders makes all the difference – it is a rule at the bottom of the page between work and home.

May our Heavenly Father bless you and your husband abundantly.

Lydia said...

Thank you for your kind comments, and I do hope to be reasonable rather than radical in the area of Christian marriage. I believe there are a lot of false beliefs spreading around the religious world about marriage that puts the woman down or defeats her or reduces her power that actually would save the family if she were allowed to use it. I believe that there are a lot of false notions in churches about this, and they are spread by people who really have not investigated the original language from which these commands came--the Koine Greek, which has different senses and tenses that shed more light on the subject. Being heirs together in the grace of life says a lot, and that has not been fully investigated here on this blog. I just wanted to touch briefly on the importance of the husband and wife to work together, without lording it over one another and without insulting or alienating one another. Often women dont want to be homemakers and wives because they think they will be under their husband's rule in the home, but actually the wife is given freedom to guard and guide or rule the matters of the house. Too often men are told they have to supervise everything she does, as if she had no brain til she met him! Yet many of these women who get caught up in this religious nonsense which disenfranchises the woman, are well educated, capable, wise, sensible, innovative, resourceful and more alert than their husbands. Should not the husband be proud to have such a wife that will help him in his destiny in life? Should not he listen to her wise counsel? It does not make him feminized and it does not demasculinize him, either. Rather it makes him a better man, when he can take the leadership role with his wonderful side-kick and mate who will keep him from falling. For where there are two, one will lift the other up.

Also thanks so much (I think that is Mrs. Eliot in Australia) for the great ideas and advise about helping a discouraged man who hates the workplace he faces each day. I don't know how the men do it in some of those situations.

Lydia said...

Andrea: yes, there is something to be said for the long marriage in which staying together tells of love and devotion.

And in regards to the weaker vessel: I believe fine china, such as a Royal Albert tea cup is strong in its own purpose. It was not made for common or casual wear and tear. It is set apart for something special. With care, those cups have lasted for generations.

Anonymous said...


Re your second-last comment here, AMEN!!!!! PREACH IT SISTER!!!!! i have read and seen dreadful, malignant teachings on the net and among women on some of the internet fora I participate in utterly crushed by a warping and misinterpretation (deliberate, I believe) of the 1 Pet 3 verses, the 'weaker vessel' verses, the Titus 2 verses and so much more that rob her of her dignity and ability to speak up, make decisions, wisely counsel and guide her husband etc that reduce her to a mindless drone rather than truly feminine, strong, valued, dignified helpmeet to her husband and co-heir in Christ. We are complimentary, not competitive, yokefellows upon the Christian walk, (that is the truth at the heart of Biblical marriage, in my thinking). Lydia, you are truly wise and an incredible model of Titus 2. And yes, it was me in both the ‘reasonable’ comment and the workplace advice comment. My IP address is different due to my new computer.

Keep teaching the truth and never give up. The enemy loves it when we not only swerve too far to the left, but when we swerve too far to the right also; the narrow path is bang on dead-centre, focused fully upon the cross of Christ. Such skewing of Biblical truths also place incredible burdens and strain upon the husband that are crushing in their own right - often leading to real abuse or breakdown in the marriage and pushing the woman right onto the path of feminism, both parties scarred, wounded and broken of faith. God’s model as you have so eloquently illustrated is designed to protect both spouses from abuse and burdens that crush the soul and heart. It is designed to give strength so, side by side, encouraging one another, husband and wife can weather the storms and grow together as a couple, in faith, in God, in love – ‘love the verb,’, ‘love the principle’ that is rich, nourishing and abiding. I thank God for your little corner of the net daily.

Anonymous said...


My husband inherrited his mother's Royal Albert dinner set upon her death; My husband's mother married his father around 1941 and the royal albert was a wedding present; it has been used many times and is still fully intact; all 6 piece dinner set, platters, serving bowls, chafing dishes, cups, saucers and teapot; so as an example, it is an excellent one; this Royal Albert is in excess of 70 years old and still going strong! It would be an honour to serve luncheon, tea or dinner from it for you, dear sister...

The silver cutlery set is also still intact.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia

I appreciate your recent posts on passing time,etc. This is also a fine one.

May I ask a question? I bought a copy of 'Fascinating Womanhood' at a Christian bookshop and laid it aside to read later. Then, when the author died, I discovered in an obituary that she was a Mormon. Now, I would not read Stephen Covey's books on time management in the days when I had paid work and wanted that sort of advice. I felt that the verses which warn us about being unequally yoked applied. "what fellowship hath light with darkness?"
I also avoided a home education course for the same reason.

I know that you are a believer, so what do you consider to be the usefulness of Helen Andelin's book to be, given her Mormon worldview? Could I get by, as I have done so far, with the Bible and some good Christian books and blogs?

Best Wishes

Lydia said...

The original books, from which Helen Andelin reprinted and elaborated for her book, were not religious books, but a serieis of little booklets, whose copyright had run out, called "The Secrets of Fascinating Women." Sometimes they come up on ebay when searching for antique books printed in the early 1900's or the 1920's. I have a couple of them, and they look like little pamphlets.

While Helen was Mormon, I did not see much difference in the book she published and the little booklets she used. She merely improved on them. Her religious doctrine did not come through the FW lessons as far as I could detect.

I think a lot of people pick on the book because the author did not have the same religion as they, but the book itself was not a religious book at all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Anonymous 5.51 for taking the time to respond to my question re my husband's stressful job. It was very helpful. (Our children are married and we don't have to worry about health care costs.)Your words were very much appreciated. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

To A who said, "Could I get by, as I have done so far, with the Bible and some good Christian books and blogs?"

No doubt.

Every so often another book for wives becomes popular. What is helpful in such books, whether the book is secular or religious, will be a reflection of Bible teachings, whether they credit the Bible or not. Like the ideas in some of the popular books I've seen spanning the decades, of showing respect and appreciation; I seen those thoughts mentioned in secular and religious books. Think of the Golden Rule.

It's obvious we need constant reminding of what is good, of what we need to aim for in life: we are living for the Lord and for eternity and that puts a different perspective on everything.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this sane post. It is so helpful to have a dose of common sense every so often in this world that is so full of therapists, books, checklists, etc. that encourage us to look for what is wrong instead of recognizing everything that is right and good as it is. Thank you for the encouraging and clear writing!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia

Thank you for your comments on 'Fascinating Womanhood"

I really appreciated your post on the Lords' Day, too.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Lydia for this wonderful post. I am a victim of the seventies, my parents divorced frivolously, and I am now trying to clean up the wreckage from that and "right this ship." It is indeed my life's work, for my children and all my grandchildren to come.

You are a gifted teacher and writer. I always learn so much from you. I am going to have to go back and re-read some of my favorites soon as well.

~ Ann

Anonymous said...

I am 27 year old wife and mother. I visit your blog in need for words of encouragement and wisdom. Thank you so much for what you do. Your words are always seasoned with salt. I will print this article for myself and also for a couple who will be getting married this saturday.

I know most cannot attend your bible studies, but do you think you could post one of your studies on your blog?

Thank you again. God bless you and your family for all you do.

Lydia said...

I could put the Bible study on the blog. And also if anyone wants to attend one via skype video they certainly can. I've done that before and it seems to work out well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder that you will have good and bad times. We are in a rough patch--my middle-aged spouse has developed health problems due to very poor lifestyle choices (morbidly obese, poor eating habits, and little physical activity)and his work has told him he will have to chose between his well paid position or elected office if he wins an upcoming election. He is very angry and frustrated about the situation and currently sees me more as a burden and a hindrance than a helpmeet, because I am not willing to take on full-time work so he can quit his job and go be a politician. I strongly believe he should withdraw from the election, keep his current job, which provides heath insurance, disability insurance, and a good income, and focus his attention on our family and recovering his health. This isn't an easy time in our marriage, and I hope things get better soon. I will "keep on keeping on" and take care of my home and family until the storm blows over.