To the Bride and Groom

Photo Cred: www.pexels.com

Recently, my friend David got married and it got me thinking about marriage in general. If someone was to tell me something I needed to know before I ever got married, in order for a successful marriage, what would I need to hear? What is something every couple needs to know and have in mind before their wedding day? Well, I would want realistic expectations and some sort of idea of what will happen regardless of what that marriage turns out to be in the future. Something that needs to be known before “just married” becomes “married.”

As I have observed other marriages in my life, I have noticed five things that every marriage faces. Five obstacles that can repair or ruin this intimate relationship. These obstacles are communication, finances, intimacy, society, and worldview. Every couple will face one, if not, all five of these types of obstacles during the duration of their marriage. So for those of you who are either a) going to be married or b) just got married, then this blog-post is for you.

1) Communication

The obstacle of communication revolves around the issue of who matters more in this conversation: me, you, or us. The answer is us, not you or me. It’s called a team effort for a reason: teams communicate well because they have to, in order to win. Likewise, spouses communicate well, in order to maintain their marriage.

In marriage, everything you and your spouse do in life from now on will be communicated one way or the other. There are always going to be two types of marriages: those that communicate well and those that communicate poorly. Which marriage do you want?

By taking the effort to communicate well with your spouse on little things, you won’t have to worry when big situations come up. You will have all of that discipline to not only speak openly, but also to listen actively. All good marriages have a great sense of communication. Does yours? Will yours? If not, say something to your spouse or spouse-to-be and work on being better before it’s too late.

2) Intimacy

The obstacle of intimacy is a matter of understanding love and then living that out practically. Love at its core is sacrificial. Christ was sacrificed because of God’s love for us, even while we were in sin. The husband is commanded to follow this example and sacrificially love his wife.

Likewise, Christ respects His Father in Heaven. The wife is commanded to follow this example and respectfully love her husband. The answer to the obstacle of intimacy in marriage is sacrificially loving your lover with consistency. Better to have loved too much than to have never loved someone enough.

3) Finances

The obstacle of finances is a problem rooted in a combination of faithfulness, honesty, and wisdom. If you are faithful with little, then you can be faithful with much. Whether that be saving, spending, or investing, your faithfulness in finances will translate into honest use of your money as one couple. This faithfulness and honesty will in turn become wisdom in all of your financial endeavors.

I’ve seen countless couples who have a horrible marriage because of the tensions of bad financial decisions. This can lead them to either go broke or divorce. Don’t be them. Prepare ahead of time for the financial emergencies and general costs of marriage before they happen. Save, spend, and invest wisely while you have the advantage at the beginning of your marriage, not after you have already dug your financial ruin like everybody else. Be wise by making financially wise decisions in marriage.

4) Society

When two families join together and become in-laws to one another, this can be both bad and good. The obstacle of society is the social pressures of maintaining the expectations of those closest to you. This could be your in-laws, your family, your friends, or even your “public image” on social media.

First and foremost, live out the expectations for marriage as instructed by God before you ever listen to anyone else. Everyone else’s opinions on your marriage can wait as you listen to the LORD’s instruction. God’s expectations should be your standard for how your marriage should look and be perceived by others.

On the other hand, when two families unite through marriage you will inherit newfound responsibilities that you should certainly prepare for now rather than later. These are natural and should be celebrated new changes in your new life together. Nevertheless, marriage is two people married under God and it doesn’t have any wiggle room for control-freak family members, friends, or nosy neighbors to nitpick your every decision. If you follow God first and then listen to others, you’ll be just fine.

5) Worldview

The obstacle of worldview is a problem that deals with how the home will be run. How does your worldview align with your spouse? Do you share the same worldview or do they differ? Are you both Buddhist or Christian? Atheist or Muslim?

You need to be aware of the fact that if you both have differing worldviews, it will be much harder to run the home as a team because of the disagreements that can arise in different ideologies. It is crucial to keep in mind how each other’s worldview will impact the other as you both grow closer together. Your combined worldviews are the foundation for the way your new life together will turn out. If you have no foundation, how can you even begin to build a home? Start with a firm foundation and work from there. Know your spouse and allow yourself to be known by your spouse. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

 

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Dear Brachel

Photo Cred: Steve Martin.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (1).” Like all things that are of God, they begin with God and are for His pleasure. When He first caused the universe into existence, it began with a bang. I refer to this as the big beginning, but you may know it more commonly by “The Big Bang.” This ripple effect began with God and continues to go onward with God’s guidance. For the expansion of the universe is the echo of Creation. From here in the first few verses of the Bible, specifically the book of Genesis, we would assume that with starting on such a powerful note of God’s mighty majesty that we would continue to read of more magnificent cosmological descriptions of our universe. From the stars to the galaxies, but that is not what happens.

For unlike literary material inspired by men, this is not a story of spectacle. Rather it is a story of the spiritual interacting with the physical. In other words, a love story between the Creator and His Creation. From Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:25, the historical narrative of Genesis narrows down to what truly matters most: the relationship between Man and Maker.

This is signified in the model for marriage that we all are familiar with in Genesis 2:24. Creation started with a bang and ended with its centerpiece, that is, us humans living out the marriage model, which is our own most precious relationship that exists. As Ravi Zacharias proclaimed, there are three sanctities in life: worship, relationship, and stewardship. Marriage is the utmost relational sanctity amidst both the familial and non-familial relationships that we all partake in day in and day out.

Dear Bradford,

When we first met, I thought you were weird and Egyptian. After many years of being your friend, I still think you’re weird. Also, I now know you’re not Egyptian. From our Midnight summer camp experiences to our thrift store crawls after a bustling night of vending at Coors Field, you have never seized to be instantaneously fun when the time calls for it. With that said, the attribute that I will always associate with you is diligent perseverance when it’s time to go to work. The way you buckle in and finish everything you do in life with excellence is an admirable trait that the majority of men our age sadly are severely lacking, including me.

In remembrance of this admirable trait, I am reminded of Genesis 2:15. A verse I uphold with the greatest significance in the grand scope of Scripture as to what it means to not only be human, but more precisely how to be a man after God’s own heart. For God created Creation with the intent that we would take care of His Creation. If we know anything about our world and gardens in particular, it is that they require a good gardener to “cultivate it and keep it (2)” from becoming overgrown or branching away from the original design.

Every person that is of Christ has been given a garden from God to cultivate and keep together. Hence, our lives are our gardens. Even those who are not of Christ have been endowed with a garden to cultivate and maintain, but those gardens bear fruitless trees. We ought to trim, maintain, and eventually will present what we did with these God-given gardens to the Gardener that wept for His Creation in the Garden of Gethsemane (3) not to long ago before dying on a tree.

Bradford, you’re a married man now. All that is yours is now also Rachel’s for she has been grafted into your garden as the ultimate helper to aid in a joint-partnership of sorts to further the betterment of your ever growing garden. Like all aspects of life, with the addition of time comes the addition of responsibility for the time we have lived. Be responsible and respectful of God’s garden and watch the fruits of your labor flourish as the years go by, which may include a quiver of children one day in the future. Hopefully, if it is God’s will, that you and Rachel would be fruitful and multiply the family tree.

Walk humbly before the true, triune God like our good brother Enoch when he roamed this Earth. May this new change in the dynamics of your garden be one of challenge, yet of great gain. In all things, be the husband your wife needs, not the one she wants. Unless of course her wants align with her abiding in both Jesus and His Word abiding in her (4). Above all, “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good and abstain from every form of evil (5).”

Your brother in law and in the LORD,

Christopher D. Cribari

 

Dear Rachel,

Your day has finally arrived. The one that you have dreamed of and prayed for fervently has come in a dashingly quick fashion. Now your wedding is the past, but the present is at hand and now is the time to seize time by taking every opportunity to glorify God in all that you do, which now includes marriage.

To be frank, it was a bit shocking to come to the realization that my sister, the one that used to eat tubs of ice cream and cover herself in nothing but mud just to chase our brother John is now a married woman that exemplifies the qualities of a God-fearing woman. Those moments of our childhood are alas mere memories of a more innocent time in our lives growing up together.

Yet, here we are with you being the bride of a godly man that has grafted you into his garden and has asked for your helping hand in preserving what the LORD has provided for you to tend to during your Earth-bound days. Aforementioned earlier in my letter to Bradford, I mentioned the fact that our lives that we live are gardens of sorts that must be taken care of before our days end here. Although marriage is very much a new dynamic to your life, it is a new fundamental tree that must be cared for on a daily basis from this day forth in your joint-garden with our brother in the LORD, Bradford.

From our long nights talking about the greater good found in God to the the obscure photo shoots we would have every so often, the attribute of yours that sticks out the most to me is how eager you’re to help others, even me. How when we were younger and my autism was much more prevalent in those days, you helped me figure out the world as a little boy that was not quite like the other kids. It was your kindness and ability to aid others and I that has to be your most celebratory attribute.

Just as Eve was made of Adam, so too you were raised in the household of men with our mother being the single, shining light of what it meant to be a woman in the modern world. So when Bradford came onto the scene to sweep you off of your feet, it fit perfectly with the groove of our family’s rhythm. With Bradford’s diligent perseverance and your elegant grace in helping others, the two of you fit excellently together as Bradford needs a woman like you and you need a man like him.

Be there for him when he fails and when he does, let him. After the dust settles, help him as only a true woman can and innately must for they were created for this very purpose (6). Take our father and mother’s greatest attributes, Dad’s gratitude and Mom’s grace, with you into your covenant with your knight in shinning armor. Never forget the lessons of our youth and remain in the pursuit of truth, hand-in-hand with the man leading the way to the final destination in the next life.

Our mother, Samantha, has spent over half her life with our father, Mark. Through the trials and tribulations, she stayed with him to celebrate when triumph dawned brightly on the two of them. May you achieve such a monumental goal one day of continual commitment. Now that you’re all grown up at the beautiful age of 21, here is to the first 21 years of marriage with Bradford. May each passing day with its inevitable challenges bring forth comfort as you rest in the fact that you never have to face these challenges alone. Oh, and happily ever after. Always and forever.

Your brother in blood and the blood of Christ,

Christopher D. Cribari

 

With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

_________________________________________________________________

  1. Genesis 1:1 (NASB)
  2. Genesis 2:15 (NASB)
  3. Matthew 26:36 (NASB)
  4. John 15:7 (NASB)
  5. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (NASB)
  6. Genesis 2:18 (NASB)

 

1 + 1 = 1: Entering Marriage in the Modern World

Updated: 9/12/2017

There are many out there that usually skip the marital vows and go straight to the sexually and emotionally appealing part of a marriage, but when this happens they lose sight of what a relationship is really all about. Known as modern day dating or “friends with benefits,” this structure for relationships removes the covenant of marriage because a couple may want to immediately jump right into the “good stuff.” These so called relationships should really be referred to as, “children pretending to be adults who allow their senses to guide their every decision.”

In reality, that is what most people do when it comes to relationships. We have thrown marriage out the window because marriage is the hardest thing anyone will participate in for the very fact that it lasts years, decades, and even entire lifetimes. Marriage seriously takes a lot of work from both in the relationship.

What you find in the Western World is a lack of doing anything God’s way among most in society. This way of pursuing a relationship is similar in the way people go shopping for clothes. They try on a bunch of t-shirts, pants, socks, and so on before eventually finding “the one” outfit. This ideology for relationships is flawed because if you truly wanted to know who “the one” was, then you would have no need to try everyone else, but could just wait for God to reveal them to you. You would save time, money, and a lot of unnecessary complications. As Pastor Chuck Smith once said, “keep it simple stupid.”

In Psychology, Dr. Jean Piaget has this theory that there are four main stages of cognitive development in humans. They include the sensori-motor stage (birth to 2yrs.), the pre-operational stage (2yrs. to 7yrs.), the concrete operational stage (7yrs. to 11yrs.), and the formal operational stage (11yrs. to death). Now when observing a typical relationship in the Western World, both individuals may very well cognitively be in the formal operational stage, but in their relationship together, the couple lives like they are stuck in the sensori-motor stage which consists of “exploring the environment and acquiring knowledge through sensing and manipulating objects” the way a child figures the world out (1).

Most couples display this type of thinking in a way when interacting together by manipulating each other for either sexual pleasure or emotional highs. This way of manipulation can only lead to disappointment because both are temporary solutions to a constant problem: unquenchable satisfaction and purpose. This is why God created marriage and the ability to interact with Him on a relational basis. Humanity strives to be surrounded by others that fulfill their needs.

Today, the covenant and institution of marriage is changing so rapidly to fulfill the demands of everyone in society that eventually the original intentions for marriage will vanish. Where marriage once was about the sacred union between one man and one woman that was God ordained, today you could marry anyone for any reason. Humanity has forgotten why marriage exists in the first place: to reflect “the union of one man and one woman for life” that started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (2). God realized this predicament of Adam having no spouse and in that moment said “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (3). This is the origin of marriage and this is where anyone needs to start before thinking about beginning a marital relationship with someone else. But before someone should enter a marital relationship, here are five factors to consider.

The Biological Factor

This one is kind of easy to figure out. If you like someone, they will know. If someone likes you, you will know. Not to hard to figure out whether or not you like someone from a physical standpoint. This is also the first factor of the five that you may find out about one of your friends that you would like to pursue in a marital relationship, but nevertheless is still an essential factor to consider.

The Moral Factor

Does this person have morals? Are they morally upright? Marry someone who shares the worldview that you do. Where do morals come from? God. So marry a godly person and not someone ungodly. If you are a Christian, then by golly do not marry an Atheist! Go and marry someone with your worldview, not someone with views that collide with your own concerning the important stuff like “Who is Jesus?” or “What is the purpose of life?” Anyways, find someone aligned with what you believe.

King David once sang about the godly man in Psalm 1 where he said “Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the Law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night” (4). In life, your friends influence you and you influence your friends. So make sure that the friend that you pursue is a godly influence as you both walk together towards marriage. Whoever you begin to pursue, make sure they are someone who lives a life like the man from this psalm.

The Integrity Factor

Take into consideration who this person is on the inside, behind the masquerade that they may project when others are present. Who are they really when nobody is watching? These are questions you must contemplate to truly know what you are getting yourself into when you enter this marital relationship. Studies show that as couples grow old together they tend to become more and more like each other whether physically, emotionally, psychologically, etc. Is the person you pursue worth turning into as time goes on?

Several weeks ago, I was listening to a sermon from the pastor in my church’s high school youth group. While taking notes I suddenly heard a thought in my head that said, “when two trees grow next to each other, they either die or grow together.” Now this little thought had nothing to do with the teaching which really perplexed me and this thought suddenly pulled me right out of the sermon.

After the sermon was over I went to bed hours later still dwelling on this thought because it really did come from nowhere (i.e. it was Holy Spirit speaking internally to me). A day or two later after still thinking on this phrase, I finally went online, Googled the phrase, and came upon the scientific term called inosculation. In studies such as botany, bionomics, and dendrology, inosculation is a natural phenomenon where when two trees grow in a close proximity, they grow into each other either becoming one tree or killing each other.

Let me explain why this relates to marriage. This natural phenomenon is a great real life parallel of what happens over time when “two become one flesh” through marriage (5). A couple either becomes stronger together as “iron sharpens iron” or a couple ruins each other (6). With divorce rates always on the rise, the need to find someone of integrity should be a priority for things to look for in a future spouse.

The Spiritual Factor

This one is quite simple and does need much explanation. Find someone who is led by the Holy Spirit and knows the one true, triune God. Pursue someone who knows Jesus and has a relationship with Him. That person is worth the effort needed for a fulfilling marital relationship. I would rather marry a woman of character than the caricature of a woman. Sadly, most people settle for the caricature of a man or a woman because they either lack patience or the discernment to detect what a true man or a true woman really is in this world.

In order to find that special someone of interest, look for the directions found in the Bible and the breadcrumb clues that God leaves in the experiences within your friendships. When you find someone of interest, ask questions like: “Are they a passive believer or an active believer?” What may also help is setting up a standard as to what you want in a good partner. This may be anything like if a certain denomination is important to you or if no denomination is important to you, for example. One standard you may hold is that they have to be actively in the ministry and not just a CEO Christian (Christmas, Easter, & Other Holidays). The point is that you need to find the friend that will point you back to God and not themselves, which can be one of the highest expressions of love.

The Social Factor

What are they like in social settings when they are interacting in society? What are they like at church, work, school, and so on? Are they the same or do they change into someone else to hide who they really are because they fear scrutiny or judgment from others? These are the types of questions that should cross your mind as you seek the person you will one day wed in the future.

If you do not plan to marry the person you want to pursue then go home, turn off all the lights, light a candle, sit in a corner, and rethink your life. If the end goal of the relationship is not for marriage, then why the pineapple are you in a relationship?! Sex? Companionship? Social status? These things are temporary and do not sustain a long lasting relationship which are also not the point of one either.

The point of a marital relationship is becoming one flesh (the fun part) and to reflect the love that God has for the church (the serious part). Plus there is the part where you may want to raise children. Is the person you want to pursue the same person you want to raise a family with in the future after you get married? Society thrives because of the lessons from a previous generation passed onto the children of a new generation. Raising godly children is the key to sustaining culture, family heritage, and society as a whole. Just another thing to think about before getting into a relationship.

Once these five factors have been acknowledged and a consistent amount of prayer has been given by both people in the potential marital relationship, only then should someone move forward into a marital relationship because they have the necessary foundation to begin pursuing a marital relationship. Prayer is key because if God says no, then for goodness sake do not go! Since God is the necessary being that keeps everything going and created everything, His say in who you marry matters. If God tells you yes to pursue someone, then pursue them. The point is just listen to what God has to say to you first.

Another necessity needed before pursuing a marital relationship with someone is to be friends beforehand. This is probably the easiest thing to understand and something that I have already mentioned at least a few times, but is constantly underutilized. I have seen many people get into a relationship that does not work out simply because there was no friendship to start. Put simply, be friends then become “best friends with benefits” within the context of marriage.

Remember, this is your relationship with your special someone whoever it may be in the future. There is no outline on how to do this crazy thing called marriage. Some of the greatest couples learn the good stuff from going through the really bad stuff, only to find it was all worth it because the journey brought them closer to each other. The best advice I can give is twofold: a) start from the Bible; branch outwards from there concerning truth on relationships and b) go talk to old people that have been married for decades. Old married people know their stuff on how to have a fulfilling marriage. So when in doubt on how to enter a relationship, just remember: the Bible and old people. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. Hockenbury & Hockenbury, Discovering Psychology
  2. www.gotquestions.org – What is the definition of marriage?
  3. NASB Genesis 2:18
  4. NKJV Psalm 1:1-2
  5. HCSB Genesis 2:24
  6. NASB Proverbs 27:17
  7. Disclaimer