I have many thoughts as I approach the beginning of my life as a married man. None are both simultaneously joyous and painful, though, as the question, ‘What can I, should I, and do I give to my future bride?’
As I reflect on my calling with her there exists a subtle yet nagging temptation to think that I cannot and will not succeed in being for her what she is for me. In one sense this is true; my fiancée is already sacrificing much for our life together:
She is moving from her home country to another that is not at all like hers and will be difficult to become accustomed to.
She is parting from her family: her parents, grandparents, and siblings, rarely ever seeing them again.
She is leaving behind all of her close friends, and will not have any nearby upon her arrival save the ones she inherits from me.
None of this has been easy for her and yet she makes these choices, these sacrifices, in order to spend her life with me. So what can I hope to bring to this relationship? How can I show her the love that she is already showing me a hundredfold?
Such questions and tempting thoughts are, as stated before, valid in one sense and even necessary for spiritual growth. In another sense however they are nothing more than that: temptations. They oftentimes draw me away from the truth of the matter, which is that the above sacrifices, while great and amazing signs of her love for me, are merely symptoms of an even greater sacrifice, THE sacrifice from which all of her other sacrifices must and do flow from: the sacrifice of her very self.
And it is this very same sacrifice of self that I am equally called to make with her and live by for all of my days.
This is reflected in the Truth that our marriage, and all marriages, will be a symbol of: the union, the Covenant, of Christ and His Church. As seen in virtually all Covenants within Scripture, a sacrifice is necessary to bind the two entering into it (Exodus 24: 5, Genesis 8: 20, etc.). The sacrifice is used as the sealing of the Covenant, making it permanent upon those who are bound within.
Christ, as the final Covenant and the fulfillment of all Covenants, made a seal with His Bride, the Church, by sacrificing his very life for Her, so that ‘all who believe might have eternal life’ (John 3: 15). With His Death and Resurrection he has made everlasting His Covenant with the Church and will not abandon Her or lead Her astray. He is one with Her, for Christ ‘is the head of the body, the church’ (Colossians 1: 18). And as Christ is the head and the Church is the body, they are therefore no longer two, but ‘one flesh’ (Genesis 2: 24).
So it is with husband and wife, for they are compared to the one flesh of Christ and Church: ‘Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any out blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his boy. ‘For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.’ (Ephesians 5: 21-32) (emphasis mine).
It is this that I am called to, to love God by loving my bride, denying myself for her, to be a living symbol with her of the Covenant between us and Christ. It is my sacrifice to her and her sacrifice to me that seals our union with each other, as Christ has done with the Church. The comparisons are too great to be ignored.
This is, therefore, what I can, should, and do give to my future bride: my whole and entire self.
There is nothing more I can give.