You can probably add to the following list regarding marriage. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but just to get you thinking. If you have some good ones to add, please email me.
1. Your marriage must be lawful. The Bible teaches there are basically three categories of people who have the right to marry: those who have never been married, those whose spouse has died, and those who put away a mate for the cause of fornication (Gen. 2:24; Rom. 7:1-3; Matt. 19:9). Those who fall under a different heading do not have the right to be married. If you divorced for a reason other than fornication or were put away for fornication, the Lord does not give you a right to be married. And, of course, marriage is between one man and one woman (1 Cor. 7:2).
2. Your marriage ought to be the highest-priority relationship on earth. Among our relationships with other people, marriage is second-to-none. A man is to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (Matt. 19:5). His prior relationships take a distant second to the new one with his mate; mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, etc. If the couple is blessed with children, their relationship still needs to be the priority. Many homes are wrecked because one or both spouses put the marriage behind mom and dad, the children, or someone else.
3. Your covenant with your spouse is secondary to your covenant with God. While husbands and wives should put each other first, above others, they cannot dislodge God from His place. The Bible teaches that a woman is to submit to her husband “as is fitting in the Lord” (Col. 3:18). In other words, if the husband wants the wife to commit sin, she has no obligation to submit; even if it leads to the breakup of the marriage (1 Cor. 7:12-16). If the husband wants to wife to watch pornography, buy beer for him, lie to his boss, or skip church for a day at the lake, she must stand her ground and remain faithful to the Lord. The same goes for the husband whose wife tries to lead him astray. The Lord first, everyone else second.
4. You must fulfill your marital duties. Yes, this includes sex (1 Cor. 7:1-5). However, there is much more. The wife is to love and submit to her husband (Titus 2:4; Eph. 5:22-24). She is to behave herself in such a way to show respect for her husband and the Lord (1 Pet. 3:1-6). Her speech, dress, public behavior, and submissive attitude will comfort her husband and allow him to trust her. The husband is to love, cherish, and nourish his wife (Eph. 5:25-33). He is obligated to treat her like a fine piece of china (1 Pet. 3:7). As the husband seeks to fulfill his wife’s needs, emotional, physical, spiritual, he will endear himself to her. She will cling to him in love. The one who fails to fulfill his or her duties is in sin and needs to repent immediately.
5. You must raise your children in the Lord. The couple who love their children and the Lord will raise them in the “nurture and training of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The parents will see to it that their children attend Bible classes and worship services. They will ensure the children’s lessons are ready. Dads and moms will take time to study the Bible with their children as well as pray with them. Loving disciple needs to be applied when appropriate (Prov. 13:24; cf. Heb. 12:5-11). And, it goes without saying, the proper example must be set.
6. Your marriage will be happiest if both of you are dedicated Christians. If one spouse is a Christian and the other is not, then they have different priorities and goals in life. If both are Christians, but one is nominal at best, that one will be a drag or dead weight in the marriage. It is only when the husband and wife are fully committed to the Lord that the marriage will reach its full potential. Such people will have the same standard, values, and goals. Their standard will be God’s word. Their values will be those of the New Testament; clean, pure, moral. Their goals will be to honor God in this life, help save others, and get to heaven in the end. To have another helping and encouraging you in this will afford you great happiness.
7. Your marriage needs patience and longsuffering. Even when both spouses are dedicated Christians, the marriage will have its ups and downs. After all, we are people; and where there are people there are problems. We all know some big things come up in the relationship. Where to live, to take this job and move or stay put, move in with mom and dad a while or stick it out, home school the children or send them to public school. There are also little things, which often turn into something big. Fights and arguments can break out over the toothpaste lid being left off, the toilet seat left up, the TV being too loud, that clicking noise he makes when he chews (it was cute before the wedding), and a million others. Anyone who is married will testify to the truth of this. In marriage, though, there is supposed to be love, and love is patient (1 Cor. 13:1-8). Faults must be overlooked. Missteps forgiven. Compassion bestowed. Isn’t that what you want for yourself? So, give it to your spouse.
8. Your marriage will not survive this life. Jesus told the Sadducees that in heaven men are like the angels who “neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matt. 22:30). Earthly, temporal relationships are dissolved; heavenly, eternal ones will be enjoyed. Does this help answer the question that if a spouse is not in heaven will we be sad? It seems the Lord’s teaching points to us not being affected by this. How can that be? How can God be manifest in the flesh? There are some thing we just need to leave up to God (cf. 1 Cor. 15:35-49).
9. Your marriage can be one of the greatest blessings or greatest curses of your life. If you put all of the above together, it is apparent that marriage has a profound impact on us. It will either help us and our children be better people or it will burden us with tremendous problems. Our marriage will have a significant impact on our eternal destiny (1 Pet. 3:7). First, it matters whether or not we are lawfully married. If not, we are guilty of adultery and will lose our soul. Too, our spouse will either help us get to heaven or hinder us in that desire and goal. It is important, therefore, to do all we can to help our mate be a strong Christian so he or she can in turn help us. Likewise, we need to teach our children the importance of making a wise choice in a life-long mate.