It may be demanded, wherein this art and skill consists, of saving this honor of marriage so unstained? The answer is, it stands in two sorts of duties; whereof, the former sort, concerns both husband and wife jointly and undividedly to practice: The latter concerns each of them in several, the husband apart, and the wife apart. Let us begin with the former.
Those duties which concern both equally are four: First, jointness in religion; mutual love; like loyal chastity; and suitable consent. Touching the first of religion: my meaning is, that, as they are entered already with a religious spirit into their marriage, so they must continue: not only to be religious still, but to cleave mutually together in the practice of all such means of worship, and duties of both tables, as concerns them; I say, in the parts of religious conversation to God. More plainly, first that they be joint in worship of God publicly, both ordinarily upon the Sabbath (and occasional at other times and seasons) as also extraordinary.
The Word must be heard by both jointly, Sacraments mutually received, prayers frequented, and all the worship attended. Secondly, family duties, concerning both themselves and their children, as reading of the Scriptures, conferring of them, prayer and thanksgiving: exercising those, whom God hath committed to their care, in the principles of Godliness, and the several duties of inferiors: the husband being the voice of God when they are together: touching which, more shall be said in the several offices belonging to the husband. If he be absent, and there be no man of better sufficiency to present, whom both of them allow of, then ought the wife to discharge the duty, as hereafter shall appear. Thirdly, and more especially those several duties of worship, which in private and apart from the other family do concern them: which although they ought to perform alone also, yet not always, but jointly and mutually: as to confer, read, pray, confess, and give thanks…
Let it be therefore exhortation to all good couples, to be mutual in all religious duties, ordinances, and service of God. This will strengthen the wheel of marriage, as the strong spokes in the cartwheel strengthen it from cracking and splitting. Live not like strangers to God: for so shall you never be inward with each other: your life will wax common and fulsome, past and spent out in a shadow and vanity, yea vexation of spirit: and at your death, you shall say, alas we never knew one another truly. I dare not snare you for setness of canonical hours, or for oftness of duty: I leave that to your own experience, who should best know each other’s wants, or at least your own to draw you to it. It is not meet families be made private to the privacy of their governors: it is the next way to make them despised: it’s best referring them to your own seasons: except yourselves be the whole family, for then the difference is taken away. I say, there may be secret cases wherein even each party may choose secrecy; in such, be wise, and power out your hearts to God, apart, as it’s like Rebecca did in the strife of her twins. There is a season for all things: and marriage secrets are tactedly to be kept. Therefore I say let this be the chief pearl of the marriage crown; search out all thy corruptions: make a register of all favors of God, which God hath granted to thee, and to thy wife in common; such as at the time of receiving, seemed most precious, and might ill have been spared: mark how God hath gone before thee and ordered thy conversation; consider how happily, and yet perhaps hardly you met in marriage: what sound love, and covenant the Lord bred at first in you: how they have since held firm; and although many things have come in to weaken them, yet they have not prevailed. Consider how your hearts are drawn daily to each other: calmeth your unquiet spirits, (which otherwise would not keep compass) so that you look not each upon the other with eyes of serpents, but of doves. Observe how Sabbaths and Sacraments are blessed, how your faith and peace grows, your fears decay, how your corruptions are purged; what dangers in body, state, children you avoid; and what sorrows, which cumber others, you are free from: also what success in your children’s tractableness, and towardness.
From: Matrimonial Honor, by Daniel Rogers