Can we help? with PASTOR & MRS BANDA
DEAR Raphael and Namukolo,
I am 30 and my fiancée is 29 years and six months old. We are both Christians and we love each other dearly and plan to wed in a year’s time.
The trouble I have are the sentiments I am receiving from both my relatives and some of my friends, with respect to my fiancée’s age, to the effect that once we get married, she will lose respect for me and that she will fail to submit to me on account of us being almost age mates.
My relatives, especially, have clearly told me that they would prefer I married someone who is much younger than I am. I have never been married before so I do not know how genuine these concerns are.
Your advice please before I mess up!
The sentiments expressed by both your friends and relatives are common in our society but they are based on a wrong premise. Such thinking is normally associated with the traditional type of marriage. Traditionally, based on natural observation, it was generally accepted that females matured at a much faster rate than males. They concluded that for the man to be sufficiently mature and thus earn respect from his wife, he needed to be older than his wife. Otherwise, it was assumed, the more mature wife would inadvertently run the show in the home.
There are variations to such thinking in different set ups. For some, especially in the secular type of marriage, it is not so much the age difference as the difference in the social status of the two that matters. So you find that men are dissuaded from marrying women who are deemed much better off than them economically. Also, some men think that women find it difficult to respect and submit to a husband who is not doing well financially.
Let us start answering such concerns firstly from simple common sense. If this reasoning was valid, then we should argue that our bosses at work; our church leaders and our national leaders should always be older than all the people they lead. In addition, they should equally be faring better economically if the people below them were to respect and submit to their leadership. This, to say the least, is absurd.
Secondly, an audit of those marriages where the husband is older than the wife will reveal that respect and submission from the wife is far from guaranteed. Many wives who are younger than their husbands are disrespectful and they are not submissive to their husbands. On the other hand, one will find many wives who are older than their husbands or who are faring better financially who respect their husbands.
Therefore, neither age nor social status will guarantee you respect in marriage.
Thankfully, the biblical concept of marriage assures both partners of genuine respect and love. In the traditional and secular forms of marriage, the husband must earn or deserve the respect and submission by being the right age and excelling socially. In the Christian marriage, the wife respects and submits to the husband; and the husband loves the wife, out of obedience to their master, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the traditional marriage, the type of respect is more external than internal – it is a form of servitude – kneeling, clapping of the hands, works of service and using proper titles when referring to the husband.
In the Christian marriage, the wife holds her husband in high esteem, not on account of what she can see in him but in obedience to her master, Christ. Since the grounds for respecting and submitting to the husband are not in the man himself, the Christian wife finds it easier to respect and submit to him even if she is older than him or she earns twice as much as he does.
From this, we see that going forward, the only thing you should be concerned about is whether your fiancée loves the Lord Jesus Christ more than she loves you and she is thus prepared to obey Him in everything, including the way she relates to authority. Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Equally, on your part, you should worry about your relationship with Christ. Do you love Christ more than you love your fiancée? Are you consistently growing in your faith? This is what will guarantee that your love for your fiancée will be unconditional. Such love only grows stronger and does not wane with either time or the abundance of human failure.
Ephesians 5:33: “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
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