Introduction

I heartily commend and congratulate the youth ministry of Church of God (Seventh day), Rivers conference for the bold initiative taken to organize this all important marriage conference. A careful look at scriptures reveals that God Almighty places great premium on marriage. For instance, marriage is the second institution God made at creation and also defines the final event in the salvation process – The marriage of the lamb and His bride, the church. It is also noteworthy that the basic unit of society: the family, is only properly established through marriage. Similarly, both religious and secular scholars agree that happy citizens and healthy churches are products of successful marriages. This paper therefore focuses on starting well and finishing well and in-between what to expect and do in marriage. In fact, my take on the subject was informed by the understanding that we are the called and chosen peculiar people of God. As we jointly go into this search for divine knowledge in marriage, I persuade you to have the right expectations and an achiever’s mind. The Holy Spirit is here to help us.

The Necessary Personal Credentials for Marriage

I have culled from Dr. Myles Munroe’s masterpiece on the subject that I found quite exciting and informative, the following: One should have the Lord first, so that your spouse will meet you in the Lord, Gen. 2:7. A minimum age of 25 for the man and 20 for the woman. The would-be husband should have a place. Gen 2:8. The man should have a job. Gen 2:15. He should possess the passion to cultivate and protect a wife, Gen 2:15. The man should have the word of God and ability to teach the woman. It was after establishing these credentials in man that God said it is not good that the man should be alone. We can deduce therefore that without these credentials the man should be alone yet.

How To Choose The Would-be Spouse

Please learn this hard truth. According to Dr. Myles Monroe, the perfect woman or man you are looking for does not exist anywhere in the world, except only in your mind. This truth would surely modify your approach on the subject. Besides the bible says, Christians do not work by sight but by faith, 2 Cor. 5:7. Nevertheless, let’s with open minds explore the subject. First, we note that scholars agree that by considering things crucial to you, one should choose the right person for the right reasons at the right time under the right circumstances and conditions. They have also written so much on the subject, including a long list of hints. Let’s look at the twelve below: Someone to connect easily with. Potential partner with same interests. Consider your partners intellect. It is okay to have standards. Someone for whom there is mutual respect. One whose potential is trustworthy. Don’t choose out of sympathy. Don’t choose out of fear. Look for qualities that are the foundation of a good partnership. Avoid details. Don’t let lust be your guide. Find someone you can be yourself around. Avoid external influence. These are very brilliant ideas but can only be as useful as to the extent to which they are realizable. Let us therefore come home and be more practical. Please pause and ponder over the process of choosing of Rebekah as Isaac’s wife, Gen 24. What strikes your mind from that? Of a truth, the choice of a spouse is the most critical of all choices in life. Nevertheless, it should not be a kind of albatross for us. Do not lean on your understanding but trust in the lord because He instituted Marriage and is much interested in it’s success. Benjamin Franklin, an 18th century American scientist and philosopher said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards”. So when you are ready for marriage, just do the needful. Pray to God to open your eyes to see well. Strike a balance between the spiritual and physical considerations, and do not ignore your tastes in the opposite sex. It may be frustrating to wait for God to take total responsibility for choosing your own spouse. The choice must be yours.
__ The Hidden Demerits Of Courtship__

Courtship and dating are two subjects prevalent in premarital relationships, especially in secular society. According to Dr. John C. Maxwell, “A couple during courtship are illustrating two beautiful ideas. They are building on the strengths and expecting the best”. In fact, to a large extent, the weaknesses are masked for obvious reasons. Let us scrutinize the concept of courtship. Under normal circumstances, courtship should start after a proposal for marriage has been made otherwise it will be tantamount to dating which cannot pass the test holiness. Church marriage rules and regulations provide that the minister in charge of the congregation should be informed to play his role as counselor for those engaged. It is common knowledge that the decision to make and/or accept a marriage proposal is arrived at through prayers. Usually, The prayer content is “Lord, show me that he or she is your WILL for me”. Having received a YES answer from the Lord, what then is the relevance of courtship, since the objectives of courtship is “FINDING OUT THE UNKNOWN”. To examine and prove what God has approved is a mark of unbelief. On the other hand, if you want to conclude your courtship before making your marriage proposals, will you still ask God if your would-be spouse is God’s WILL for you? What about a failed attempt and the difficulties of starting another courtship within the same community.

The Making Of A Family After Marriage

Like sociologists say about child development, the first few years in the making of a family after marriage are critical. Now that the couple is living together, they see and experience the reality of each other – the strengths and weaknesses. At this juncture, among others, these are the right things to do. Maintain a faithful commitment to your spouse, so that in the whole world, it shall be he and he alone for you or she and she alone for you. No more, no less. Establish a strong family altar and thrive on God’s word, Matt. 7: 24-25, with Jesus as Lord of the family. Activate submission and love. Ensure you love the content not the container, Eph. 5: 22-25. Husbands emulate Jesus Christ by bringing up your wife, Eph. 5: 25-27. There should be closeness and effective communication, Deut. 24: 5. Watch out for critical warning signs. Practice forgiveness, tolerance and patience, Col 3: 12-13. Maintain mutual respect, care and honor, Matt 7: 12. Manage your family finances prudently and sincerely. Project each other’s strengths, not the weaknesses. When children come, make sure you treat your spouse as your first son or first daughter respectively. Beware of third party influence. Make only good use of the internet and social media. It must not take a better part of your attention. Relate with a good older Christian couple for mentoring and counseling, but not forgetting your pastor.

The Gains And Joy Of Marriage

When two believers are equally yoked together in marriage, a door of goodness and joy opens. The first thing is the joy of a life time companionship that eliminates loneliness. For a man, you receive the fulfillment of restoring your lost rib, and are initiated into manhood with its attendant honor. A help meet for you is now constantly available. The burning and frantic search for a sex partner is now a thing of the past. You now will be home-sick because of one who is waiting to receive you. Buka-going habit will cease. The hope of perpetuating your lineage is raised high. If the wife is a virtuous woman, the husband has a crown on his head and is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. Prov. 12:4; 31:10-12. Your spiritual life may be enhanced. For the woman, in addition to some of the gains enumerated above, she acquires the most cherished and honourable female title – Mrs. The assurance of her source of desires is established, Gen. 3:16. She feels protected. She automatically becomes a general manager of the home and wields great powers. The wife exercises her conjugal rights over her husband and becomes a co-owner of all that belong to him. The hope of procreation is raised high and the joy that accompanies the birth of a child is immeasurable for a woman. Her spiritual life is more likely enhanced. The Other Side Of Marriage – Pains. It is a sad commentary that many marriages crash, some almost immediately they were established and some at later times. This is more so in secular society and Christendom is not spared altogether. Stunning statistics show that rate of divorce in the world is highest in Belgium with 70% and least in Chile with 3%. Because God hates divorce, Christian couples endure the pains and remain in marriage. God have mercy! Below are some of the sad experiences and their causes. Manifestation or progressive uncovering of hitherto concealed weaknesses. Failing health conditions or incapacitation through accident. Reproductive issues that lead to barrenness or impotence Unteachable and incorrigible behavior. Laziness and poverty. Cheating on a spouse and infidelity. Subtle idolatry. Poor sexual characteristics. Drunkenness. Unforgiving spirit and bitterness. Insatiable demands from a spouse. Undue comparison of a spouse to others. Frequent nagging and murmuring. Absence of love. Gross insubordination. Antagonism against matrimonial kindred.

Conclusion

According to Tim Urban, research shows that married people are on the average happier than singles and much happier than divorced people. But a closer analysis reveals that if you split married people into two groups based on marriage quality, people in self-assessed poor marriages are fairly miserable and much less happy than unmarried people and people in self-assessed good marriages are much happier than the literature reports. Finally, the subject of the journey through marriage cannot be exhaustively treated in a single book, much less in one seminar paper. Nevertheless, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, the vital areas have been highlighted. Equipped with the knowledge, those due for marriage are expected to swing into action in confidence, while those in old and ailing marriages should work towards their healing. Trust that God who instituted marriage and is highly interested in its success will be with you. Grace be to you all. Last word My prayer is that 10 new marriages will be established in this conference. If you are ready for marriage, take advantage of the opportunity. References The Holy Bible, New king James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers. John C. Maxwell: The winning Attitude, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. www.waitbutwhy.com Isirima E. Obulor, Exhortation on marriage, Abuja 2015. Myles Munroe, Best nine minutes sermon, internet. www.wikipedia.com