Three rules for a happy marriage
(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Mark" 1857)
Of all relationships of life, none ought to be regarded with such reverence and none taken in hand so cautiously, as the relationship of husband and wife.
In no relationship is so much earthly happiness to be found, if it is entered upon discreetly, advisedly, and in the fear of God. In none is so much misery seen to follow, if it is taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly, and without thought.
From no step in life does so much benefit come to the soul, if people marry "in the Lord." From none does the soul take so much harm, if imagination, passion, or any mere worldly motive is the only cause which produce the union.
There is, unhappily, only too much necessity for impressing these truths upon people. It is a mournful fact, that few steps in life are generally taken with so much levity, self-will, and forgetfulness of God, as marriage. Few are the young couples who think of inviting Christ to their wedding!
It is a mournful fact that unhappy marriages are one great cause of the misery and sorrow of which there is so much in the world. People find out too late that they have made a mistake, and go in bitterness all their days.
Happy are they, who in the matter of marriage observe three rules:
The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God's approval and blessing.
The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels.
The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another's sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are.