Regardless of the effort put in preparation for a good marriage, a couple will only learn actively and practically when they tie the knot. I am confident that my husband and I prepared well, but we still had a tone of lessons to learn in our first year. 

Marriage is firstly God’s work

A good marriage has never been achieved without a sweat. However, since our human efforts are limited, God’s grace holds us. Left to ourselves, we have the potential to single-handedly wreak havoc. The nagging wife mentioned in Proverbs 21:19 is a case in point. 

Our merciful God does not allow us to experience the full results of our sin. He enables us to do even the good that we do, for it is Him who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) He covers all our iniquities, helps our hearts to love and submit to each other, and works out the bad times for our good. I felt love for my husband after we had solved a conflict and forgiven each other. Conflicts also provided opportunities to know him more.

We are of a sinful nature

Of course, this may sound like a cliche. There are hardly any couples intending to get married who haven’t heard of their imperfection. However, it is one thing to know this truth and another to observe it in yourself. Some of my best actions were tainted with sin. I was often at a loss of words when my husband pointed out my mistakes and offenses against him. 

I almost despaired every so often, concluding like Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) We thank God for Christ, who is our righteousness and in Him, we stand complete. Though we do not do the good we desire, Christ is continually sanctifying us. When He shall complete His work in us, we shall be given perfect bodies whose sole desire will be pleasing Him. 

Delayed forgiveness is ruinous

We are instinctively bent to revenging against people who wrong us. It is possible to pile up offenses in our hearts until we are no longer sure of which to use against our offender. One of the common reasons given for divorce is normally ‘irreconcilable differences’. Many married couples fail to deal with conflicts as soon as they arise, resulting in unforgiving hearts. 

In the past year, I saw this in my heart. I often felt entitled to anger towards my husband after an offense. I hesitated in showing kindness, submitting in love, and often went cold on him. 

We need to constantly check our hearts to avoid bitterness, anger, and resentment towards a spouse and others. Most importantly, we need to forgive each other as quickly as we get offended. 

Marriage is a mystery

Finally, no one will ever unravel the mystery that marriage is. The fact that God allows sinful, fallen creatures to enjoy this kind of gift, here on earth, is undeserving. That God would use marriages between sinful people to display the relationship between Christ and the church is beyond our minds. As John Piper says, “Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God.”

The sweet companionship that spouses enjoy is incomparable. Richard Baxter said, “It is a mercy to have a faithful friend, that loveth you entirely, and is as true to you as yourself, to whom you may open your mind and communicate your affairs, and who would be ready to strengthen you, divide the cares of your affairs and family with you, and help you to bear burdens, and comfort of your life, and partaker of your joys and sorrows.” 

King Solomon stated in Proverbs 30:18-19, “Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand; the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin.” Two strangers meet and fall in love. Several months/years later they get married. They sleep next to each other for the rest of their lives without worrying that one will kill the other at night. They become vulnerable to each other in ways they haven’t been vulnerable to anyone else. It is such a mystery! 

On many days, in the past year, I just basked in thoughts about the mystery of marriage, marveled, and thanked God for this gift! If Jesus tarries His return, I look forward to more years of learning.