Marriage is about honor. It is all about putting the needs, wants, and desires of your beloved above your own, and more importantly, about putting God's desires for your marriage, ahead of any ideas one may have.
A wedding band symbolizes purity, but it also symbolizes restriction or how could I put it? fidelity? One wears a band around their finger, encircling it, reminding that person of the sacredness of their vows, to always be faithfully committed to purity and holiness in their marital relationship.
Someone has said that marriage is like an ocean. After marriage the husband and wife now embark on a never-ending voyage of discovery in a sea so deep, we can't see the bottom. Whereas, platonic, casual relationships, one-night stands, recreational sex and any other form of "relationships" are like diving into a kiddie wading pool. There is neither depth nor substance to be discovered in those illicit "delights" the world makes seem so appealing.
As the wise king Solomon instructed his son, regarding the perils of adultery:
Drink water from your own well—Proverbs 15:5-20 (New Living translation)
share your love only with your wife.
16 Why spill the water of your springs in the streets,
having sex with just anyone?
17 You should reserve it for yourselves.
Never share it with strangers.
18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts satisfy you always.
May you always be captivated by her love.
20 Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman,
or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?
This is a more graphic reading of this passage, but it really does get the point across! I remember reading Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship by Josh Harris a few years ago, and he quoted this passage (using the NLT version) and it left an impression on me, concerning the sacredness of sex and the marriage covenant.
If we understood the seriousness of sexual sins, and how defiling and damaging they are, scars on our very souls, more people would carefully consider whether or not it was "worth" having sex, before marriage. Even if you do end up marrying the person you slept with, you will have that feeling of shame and regret, and will have lost something so special and exciting.
Enjoy your spouses sexuality! Be enraptured only by their beauty and your relationship with that other person. God created us as sexual beings, not as a curse, but as a great blessing and responsibility. If we are holy and pure in our marriages, we bless not only our spouse and ourselves, but we bring blessing to future generations, by setting a godly example of what a devoted to God marriage looks like.
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.Hebrews 13:4
Love and respect are two key ingredients to a successful marriage. When a wife shows respect for her husband, when she builds him up with her words and works, when she does not criticize him or talk badly about him, whether in front of him or behind his back, she is ministering to him in a deeper way than she may realize.
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.1 Peter 3:1-6
And, when a husband loves, affirms and tenderly cherishes his wife, he brings the security and stability she requires. She will thrive on his love, as he bestows his affection upon her. Showing her that she alone, is the one who has his heart.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.
His left hand is under my head,Song of Songs 2:4, 6-7
And his right hand embraces me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.
One book I would recommend to married couples, or young people who are pursuing a serious-leading-to-marriage relationship, is Emerson Eggerichs book Love & Respect (The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs)
My parents are reading through this book, and Mom has told me how helpful it has been for her already. I look forward to one day reading through it, and gleaning some important lessons about respecting my (for now future) husband.