This series has just two more posts after this one. Hopefully, these posts have been helpful to think not only of the large theological themes that drive marriage (grace, worship, service, etc.), but also some of the nuts and bolts of building a life together. In this post we will examine two other issues that warrant some time discussing.
#5: Commitment to Godly Communication
The young couple you are meeting with may not perceive that they have any communication struggles. One of the reasons is that they have become very good at overlooking issues in their prospective mate. That is great. However, at some point in their marriage those struggles become annoying and then they are not overlooked. So part of preparing them for a life together is to help them see that their words either build up or they destroy. They are either words that glorify Jesus or they are words that mock him. The words are either words of the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of Satan. Thus, here is a little outline to help them:
- Communication begins in the heart with heart desires. As soon as this couple desires something more than they desire to please, worship, live out the gospel truths in their lives, communication struggles are the result.
- Communication is learning to encourage when you open your mouth. Encouragement is lacking in our day. People are rarely thanked, they are rarely praised, and they are often criticized. Sometimes the best thing that people can do is shut it (Prov 10:19). Eph 4:29 says to use words good for edification, according to the need of the moment. If our young couples got this, they would have far fewer struggles during their marriage.
- Help them learn how each of them tends to shut down communication. Wayne Mack uses the term “circuit jammers.” How do people shut down? Do they walk away? Do they get angry? Do they cry? This will help each of them understand how best to respond to the other during the “circuit jammer” moments.
Much could be said about communication (using Proverbs, talking about Ephesians 4:25-32, etc.), but the point is that the young couple will be best prepared if they have been guided through what Scripture says about godly communication.
#6: Commitment to Leave and Still Honor Parents
This may seem surprising to make a list like this. It is true that many young couples will not have many problems. But a certain number of young couples have very significant challenges with their parents. The reasons are practically endless. When this is the case, it is best to talk about those issues sooner rather than later. A slow root of bitterness defiles many (Hebrews 12:15). For these couples, they need to be reminded to the warning that God gives in Ephesians 6. Children are to honor their parents, period. If a young couple takes the attitude, whether provoked or not, that one or both parents should be shunned, then it is the couple that suffers.
Marriage creates a new family unit, but not an exclusive unit. Adult, married children need to honor them by accommodating the requests that they can (visits, calls, etc.), and speaking about them with a level of respect. In some cases, adult children will be asked to care for their parents. Children who have not developed a heart of honoring their parents will struggle to honor them when they need it most.
I want, as much as possible, the young couples that I work with to show clear demonstrations even before marriage of developing a gracious heart toward their new set of parents. This, I hope, will result in the long life and blessing found in Ephesians 6.