Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
For those jaded souls who believe that Valentine’s Day is a modern event most likely invented by Hallmark in a display of crass commercialism, please allow me to set your minds at ease. Valentine’s Day legends actually go back as far as the third century A.D. Mind you, those legends do not involve cute babies shooting harmless little arrows at people and thus making them fall in love with each other and get married. They mostly involve tales of martyrdom, which, as many formerly married people seem to be fond of saying, is somewhat similar to marriage.
But it does not have to be that way.
This coming March will be Dana and my twenty-ninth anniversary. I am not just married; I am deliriously happily married. After getting saved, getting married was the best thing I ever did. And, as a man with nearly thirty years of wonderful marriage experience, I feel at least somewhat qualified to offer good advice to others coming up who are either looking to be married, soon to be married, recently married, or even “been married a while but could sure use some help.” I do not claim to know it all, but I will at least assume the mantle of “amateur expert” for a few moments as I dispense wisdom to the masses.
Here goes, in no particular order.
One: life is funny; treat it as such. Laughter is good for the soul, good for the home, and good for the marriage. My wife and kids and I laugh a lot together. If you can go through a day at work or school or even church and not see things that are hysterical, you are not paying attention. And the most miserable families I know are the ones that believe that grumpiness is next to godliness. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Use that medicine liberally in your relationships.
Two: if you are single, do not just marry a good person or even a great person. Marry the one that God has appointed for you. In Genesis 24:14, Abraham’s servant spoke of that concept, that God had one person appointed for Isaac. You will meet many wonderful people in your life; that does not mean any of them are the one God has for you. Walk very close to God, pray over this, seek His specific will, and you will find the exact one.
Three: be wise with your finances, and teach your children to be likewise. I have counseled many homes on the verge of divorce. And it may come as a surprise to many that the main problem putting those homes on the verge of divorce has been debt, not adultery. You should have seen the livid look on the face of the wife whose husband spent a few thousand dollars they did not have on a custom paint job for a motorcycle! Work more than others, bring food from home instead of always eating out, pay cash for everything except perhaps a house, start investing early and regularly, and live on a budget, get and stay debt free. Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
Four: work out and eat right. If you don’t think this matters in a relationship, you have never seen the strife caused by unneeded obesity, not to mention the medical bills. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that, as believers, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost. The temple; not a sprawling, run-down housing complex.
Five: have family devotion time. I have written about this extensively. Each and every night since Dana and I got married, we have prayed together. And then, since our children came along, we have gathered together, talked about our day, brought Scripture into the discussion, and prayed together as a family over everything. And, a word of advice here, it is not a mini church service; it is a happy family and God time. I kid you not; there are times we cannot even make it through prayer time without having to stop and laugh. I tend to be very “real” as I pray out loud, and sometimes it just hits funny, like when I started last week with, “Lord, we are really sick of the rain.” I was not being disrespectful at all; I was just being honest. And Dana lost it – I mean, could not even catch a breath she was laughing so hard.
Six: Don’t be boring. Don’t be boring. Did I mention, “don’t be boring?” Go new places. Try new things. Have adventures. Make intimacy constantly new and interesting. The old timers will probably remember the song “Escape” by Rupert Holmes, usually just called the Pina Colada song. Mind you, both people in the song needed to have their parents yank them up for a good paddling, adult or no, but the premise of the song contains a nugget of truth. The “same old same old” will always be the enemy of a good marriage and home. Read the Song of Solomon sometime; those two got pretty doggone creative in everything, as did Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 26:8.
Seven: Don’t be a jerk or jerkette (jerky? What exactly is the feminine of jerk, you grammarians out there?) This should never even have to be said, but I have seen it enough times to know that it does need to be said. As I tell my church, “there is no such thing as a spiritual jerk.”Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Eight: men, learn and practice this list of magic phrases. They are guaranteed to make a marriage better. They are as follows. I was wrong. I apologize. I’ll do the dishes tonight. How about we go on a date this weekend? You look really pretty. Buy the shoes.
Oh, and “here’s some chocolate.”
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books can be gotten by pressing the “Store” link above.