Marriage is God's plan for a man and woman to reflect His reflect relationship with the church. He created man and woman in His image in the beginning.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Genesis 1:27 KJV
He then set about developing relationship between them. They were to come together through intimacy and be one flesh; no longer separate.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Genesis 2:21-24 KJV
God realized man would have been alone without the woman. He realized a need for companionship is part of human nature. There was nothing else that could meet the criteria for that need except another human being that complimented and supported one another.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18 NIV
After sin entered the world, through the fall of Adam and Eve, relationships between man and woman have been negatively affected by sin. We do not have that perfect life that was meant for us in the beginning. Marriage must now be protected and viewed from God's perspective for true success to occur in a marriage relationship.
In the New Testament, there are passages that discuss and advise on marriage.
Ephesians chapter 5 is a wonderful list of advice for a believer on how to treat others and love them. It starts by telling believers to walk in love.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Ephesians 5:2 KJV
It continues with a great description of what it means to be a believer. Paul, the writer of this passage, then includes some Godly advice for a marriage.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Ephesians 5:21-33 KJV
This passage is sometimes misunderstood. God gave man dominion over the animals, but did not give them dominion over his wife. This passage commands a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church. This means that a husband is to love his wife so much, he is willing to die for her. Christ died for the church. When we look at how Jesus Christ loved and treated those around him while on earth and through His death, we get a clear picture of how a husband is supposed to view and treat his wife. The traditional marriage vows say to love, honor and cherish. A husband needs to take each of these words and put them into action as Christ would. There is nothing in those words about demanding, demeaning, or even controlling your wife.
If we are truly reflecting God's desire and plan for relationship, a husband's love for his wife will result in her wanting to reciprocate that love willingly.
There will be no need of demands or forced attention.
It says love your wife as your own body. You are not going to purposely harm, destroy or degrade yourself, so that applies to your wife as well. She is part of you. She is your body that you should respect, cherish, and care for. When, as a husband, you take time to care for your wife and her needs, she will feel important, protected and secure. This is healthy for a relationship.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7 NIV
A wife that feels loved will love in return. A wife desires to feel safe, needed and cherished. To cherish means to protect and care for lovingly, or hold dear (dictionary.com). A woman wants to feel cherished. Christ cherished us as His church. He loves and cherishes He does not demand respect, force us to worship, nor harm or degrade. Rather we respond in love and worship because He first loves us. 1 John 1:19. Respect is earned and inspired by how someone is treated, not given as a forced demand.
Cherish a wife as most valuable. Do not damage or hurt her. Do not overwhelm or attempt to control her. Rather hold her gently and remember her heart is precious and fragile. A husband should be the protector of his wife and above all her heart. He is to lead his home not by force, demand, or by harm, but through love and care like our Heavenly Father does for us.
For a wife to submit, means that she willingly and lovingly offers herself to her husband out of respect and reciprocal love. This is not forced nor out of demand. It is because she knows he loves her and feels safe with him. A woman has innate desires to feel safe and loved. A man has innate desires to be respected, to be needed and to protect. When we take time to nurture and intentionally fill those desires, we are showing our spouse love and making them feel loved.
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
Proverbs 31:10-11 NIV
A husband and wife should be trustworthy and of good character. They should trust one another and support one another. A wife can inspire her husband, give him confidence and cause him to feel worthy and loved. He will trust her, and find that they can share their deepest thoughts and concerns. She will find that he will confide and trust her as well. There should be a mutual trust and respect physically and emotionally. Women are emotionally driven. Men are physically driven. Both of these areas need to be honored and shared between a husband and wife.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in Godʼs sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,
1 Peter 3:1-5 NIV
Respect your husband and honor him with words and actions. Our words should build him up and fill his heart. Our actions should make his heart feel safe, inspire trust and let him know his love is valued and wanted. He wants to be respected and loved. Honor in marriage is becoming rare. Men are the spiritual head and wives, we need to honor them as such. Pray for them to be led of God and to be Godly men. Be that 'good thing' that lets them know God has blessed them.
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord .
Proverbs 18:22 KJV
There is a purpose in marriage. A home and marriage is to be Godly and holy. It is to reflect and demonstrate God's love for us. God desires relationship from His church. He wants and ordained marriage to be an example of the relationship He plans and desires with us. We, as Christians, need to take marriage very seriously as part of our testimony. The way we treat our spouse should reflect God in us. God desires His people to love Him in return of His love. If others see a poor relationship in a marriage where one or both spouses mistreat the other, does that reflect Christ? How we treat one another, speak to one another, and even speak about one another, is effectively revealing the type of love, or lack of love we carry in our hearts.
We need to have the love of Christ pour out of our actions and words, especially for our spouse. That intimate relationship should be the most protected and cherished of all for it represents Christ's love for us to the world around us.
If I speak harshly to my spouse, attempt to demand and control my spouse, degrade or punish, or talk bad about them to others , I am definitely not representing Christ. Our marriage is meant to stand as a testimony of God's desire for relationship with His church.
Husbands love your wives as yourselves and wives honor your husbands. That is the simple description of a good, functional, Godly marriage. Remember marriage is meant to be good and good for us. It is meant to help us reflect the complete image of God. Marriage is a gift from God and part of His original design. Love one another as Christ loves us. John 15:12.