Sixty-five years ago, C. M. Ward delivered a sermon over the Revivaltime radio program titled “Eight Rules for a Happy Marriage.” Ward was known for his direct, practical, and biblical messages, often laced with humor. His sermons covered a broad spectrum of subjects pertaining to daily life.
Ward is best remembered as the longtime speaker for Revivaltime, the radio ministry of the Assemblies of God. The program started in 1950, but when Ward became the speaker in December 1953 the program began airing on the ABC radio network and covered 275 stations. Within a year, Ward’s dynamic ministry caused the broadcast to be given major ratings by ABC officials, who listed it as the top religious program in many parts of the country. Over the next 25 years (1953-1978), Ward preached more than 1,300 weekly radio broadcasts on over 650 stations.
While Ward’s radio address “Eight Rules for a Happy Marriage” first aired in 1956, his observations continue to be of interest to husbands and wives today.
Ward stressed that marriage is a partnership. He called it a “contract of trust entirely based on love.” He tied this into the message of 1 Corinthians 7:3: “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.”
The first rule that Ward listed was that “Life’s partnership calls for a family altar.” He mentioned the time-proven adage, “Families that pray together stay together.” He strongly advised, “A partnership in the Lord must include the practice of Bible reading and praying together if God’s fullness of blessing is to be the daily experience in the home life.”
Next Ward declared, “Life’s partnership calls for a sense of safety.” By this he meant that a husband and wife should be able to “safely trust” in each other. They should be able to discuss business matters, money affairs, and private thoughts with each other without having to worry about things being shared with others. Certain things need to be kept in confidence.
The third rule he shared was “Life’s partnership calls for an understanding about money.” Ward emphasized that in order to avoid misunderstandings about money, a couple should not have separate money accounts. Instead, all monies should be seen as “ours.” Share and share alike.
Fourthly, Ward declared, “Life’s partnership does not include relatives.” He said it is good to be on good terms with in-laws and other relatives, but they should not be allowed to manage or influence personal matters that pertain to a marriage partnership. A couple’s home life should not be controlled by outside forces.
The fifth rule said, “Life’s partnership calls for a will.” Ward suggested that a couple should talk about their future — including the possibility of death. He encouraged couples to make a will and keep it updated. It is best to be prepared for end-of-life decisions as well as day-to-day activities.
Sixthly, “Life’s partnership calls for fellowship.” Marriage is not a silent partnership. There must be conversation. Ward’s suggestion was not to bore your spouse, but wisely choose the topics of discussion. He said to “Season your meals with bright, constructive, cheery, Christ-honoring conversation.” It can keep your partnership alive.
The seventh rule stated, “Life’s partnership calls for cooperation.” There is no room in a marriage for rivalry. Ward said, “There is a secret in finding happiness in the happiness of another.” Instead of criticizing a project your spouse is doing, encourage them to do what is important to them, even it is not the type of project you would do. Ward said, “Let there be room for personal expression.”
The final rule promoted the idea that “Life partnership calls for spiritual union.” Marriage is meant to be a partnership in spiritual matters. The marriage oath was taken in the name of the Trinity, and God should remain primary in the marriage relationship. If at all possible, a couple should plan to sit together in church and be united in their religious convictions. “A house divided . . . cannot stand.” Most of all, he emphasized that “Jesus Christ is concerned about your marriage.”
Read C. M. Ward’s sermon, “Eight Rules for a Happy Marriage,” which was published on page 8 of the Dec. 30, 1956, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “A New Life for the New Year,” by Atwood Foster
• “Be of Good Courage,” by Marie Brown
• “What Price Alaska?” by James Reb
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.