My husband Erik when we were getting married, asked all the married couples he knew advise about marriage and what it means to be a husband and instead of keeping it to ourselves we wanted to share it with the world because it was amazing advise.
I have not forgotten the E-mail request you sent to Ethel and me back in November 27, although by now you may have forgotten. I have had a rough-draft response prepared for a long time, but a variety of circumstances kept me from sending it to you. Now that we have received invitations to your wedding, I think it is high time that I honor your request. We were blessed by your complementary mention of our marriage. We are often asked for the secret to our happy marriage. It is no secret at all. If it were we would get a copyright and publish a book and hope someone might even buy one. Our marriage has been a wonderful 60 years of bonding as “ONE.” But our marriage should not be any more outstanding than millions of others. This is God’s plan and provision for all.
You are already on the right path for a happy, joyful and successful marriage because you have chosen Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. And secondly, you have chosen for your bride a lady who has also become a disciple of Jesus. This is the basic groundwork and firm Foundation on which to build a marriage. Together you can build upon that Foundation. 1 Cor. 3:10-11.
Check out Ephesians 5:21-33. While the Scriptures make clear that the husband is the head of the household, the marriage union is one of partnership, where there is mutual submission (Vs. 21). The husband’s primary role as “head” is that of an unselfish provider (Vvs 25-31). When the wife has a husband that is like Christ, she will have no problem in submitting herself to her unselfish and providing spouse. And notice that mutual submission (Vs.21) is in the same context as wifely submission (Vvs.22-24).
Now, “How does mutual submission, this partnership principle work?”
The husband is the provider and as the head, he is also the Spiritual Leader of the household. His leadership is not a demanding, dictator-like bossy-ness, but one of wholesome character and example. The wife also has equal standing in the grace of God and is worthy of every respect that is due her husband.
The husband must not fail to recognize the wisdom of “female intuition.” The husband may, or may not, be the more practical, but the wife may often contribute insights that the practical male may fail to see. I try always to ask Ethel’s opinion and her personal feelings about a matter that needs to be addressed. Not all wisdom is resident in the husband alone. God knew that we “dusty” men needed a wife to be a “help-mate”, a suitable helper. Both male and female were created in God’s image. (Gen. 1:27).
While I am speaking of the Godly-spiritual, principles that make a marriage work, I will add two more:
DYING TO SELF, is a necessary and scriptural experience for the individuals to be able to contribute to harmonious marital living. This is true in all of society, but also in the Church, and especially in marriage. All conflict, and most every sin, can be traced to selfishness and pride. Yet strangely enough, “Dying to Self – being crucified with Christ,” is one of the most neglected teachings. For the Scriptures are generously imbedded with this Christian principle. See Matthew 16:21-25; Romans 6:1-14;
2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-10, to select a few.
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BEING FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, is the other principle that goes hand in hand with Dying To Self. Dying to Self, is “Emptying.” Filled with the Holy Spirit, is “Filling up.” We are more than mere ‘containers’ of the Holy Spirit, A container can be nearly empty. We are to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, In the N.T. the Holy Spirit is typified as Wind, as Fire, and as Water. Water is poured. Water flows. Water overflows, as in John 4:10-14, and John 7:37-39, also Ephesians 5:18-20.
Many who are merely nominal Christians, and continue through all adult years to be ‘babes in Christ’, have settled for the platitude “All believers have the Holy Spirit.” While this is true (Acts 2:38-39), we are to be more than a cistern, we are to be Springs of Living Water welling up into everlasting life!
It is only as we are filled and refilled in an ongoing action of God, that we overflow. And it is only from the overflow of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we are able to bless others. This is true in society, in the Church , and especially, and first of all, in our marriage relationships and the raising of a family of Godly children.
Now, some more principles, which have practical value and also Scriptural basis.
Bless your wife. Lay hands on her and pray for her. Touch her lovingly, and not only sexually. Be thankful and show gratitude for her contributions to your marriage. Do not take her housekeeping skills and services for granted. “A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done”, is an old adage that deserves notice.
Praise her directly, and praise her publicly. Let her hear you tell others how much you appreciate her. I freely tell people that, “I have two very favorite phrases, the first is,
“Jesus Christ is Lord”, the second one is “Ed and Ethel” How I love the connection of those two names!
When I asked Ethel to marry me, I told her that she would always play “Second Fiddle to Jesus”. That Jesus would always be my first love, and she would be a close second to Christ. Her response was, “I would not marry you if it were otherwise, and you, Ed, will also be second to Jesus, in my life.” I often confirm to Ethel, that next to Christ, she comes first. Tell your wife OFTEN that you love her. When spoken sincerely she will never tire of hearing it. It is never too often. Remember always that inside that beautiful, feminine body, there is a heart and a mind that has it’s own track and it’s own relationship with God.
After you are married, have sex as often as you BOTH want it. Enjoy the legitimacy of married sex, knowing that God approves and smiles upon you while you are enjoying this most intimate expression of married love. Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “If God had consulted me, I would have advised Him to create all mankind the same way he created the first human.” Could this be why I never joined his church? Never punish each other by withholding sex. We are to fulfill that special need each of us has. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
Express appropriate affection openly. Let your children see you hugging and kissing. They will want to join in this circle of affection. Children also need to know that they are loved. But even more important for their sense of personal security, children need to know that Dad and Mom love each other, Courtship does not end at the marriage altar.
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Money is the most common problem in marriages. Agree on all income being the equal possession of both spouses. None of this, “Yours, Mine, and Ours.” It is ALL OURS! Agree on tithing, on saving, on limited spending, and laying up for retired senior years, those times when earning power is limited.
Take time to enjoy each other at leisure. Ethel and I have learned to “waste time
just enjoying each other”. Just this morning in our cuddle time, we read a quote or two, I will repeat to you, “Love is wanting to tell your spouse something new you have learned and sharing something wonderful you saw.” And another quote; “Doing nothing together beats doing something alone.”
Erik, it must be clear to you by now, that you have asked the advice of a happy husband, so here you have it
Love, Ed Miller
NOTES FROM ETHEL
Hello, my friend, Erik:
Ed and I both come from homes where no affection was shown. There was no animosity and I’m sure we were loved, but no one ever said so or hugged me. When we were married we decided to show affection and say “I love you.” How surprised my parents were when we hugged and kissed them! Soon, I could tell, they liked it too.
After we had children we often had 3-way hugs (and prayers). Now our sons show affection to us and to their families. But, for me personally, this was so good and fulfilling. Somehow it has made me a whole person.
Another surprise in being married to Ed: He constantly tells me how beautiful I am. I was always shy and certainly never felt beautiful. So if I am beautiful now, it is because Ed has made me be beautiful. I read somewhere, “To see yourself as a good King in your home means that you treat your wife like a Queen, and your child as a Princess or a Prince.” Husbands make their wives beautiful by the way they treat them
Sometimes Ed brings me one rose to surprise and delight me. I am also thrilled with those times when Ed doesn’t turn on the radio in the car and we can just be people at ease together. I am especially thrilled with those days when there is no radio, newspaper or T.V. (This has happened a couple of times!)
I would say to Sarah, “Let your husband take care of you.” That is your job, Erik, to ’take care’ of your wife. You are a Servant-Husband, as Christ is for His bride. (Eph.5:25). Protect her and treat her with kindness and respect and lots of love.
Sexually, my husband has always been gentle and thoughtful. This has been very important to my happiness. When you take the initiative in showing love throughout the day, your wife finds it easy to respond to that love as well..
In ordinary things of life, Ed has continued to grow more thoughtful as we have become more mature, which makes me feel really “cared for.”
There is a book titled, ”Do Yourself a Favor; Love your Wife.” Here is a quote:
“The more sacrificially you love your wife the more respectfully your wife will respond to you in every category of life.”