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 be entered upon discreetly,
advisedly, and in the fear of God. In none is so
much misery seen to follow, if it be 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 fancy, 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.