“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” Psalm 127:1
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” I Corinthians 13:4-8
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
While some people have the fairy tale marriage, for others of us, being married is more like the opening paragraph of the classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
While marriage can be the ultimate source of fulfillment, joy and happiness, it can also be a source of conflict, disappointment and heartache. As a result, many couples these days are opting to live together without the “paper.” And unfortunately, in our legal-happy society, more and more married couples (even the Christian ones) are choosing to divorce rather than press through the challenges.
However, despite what’s going on in the world, marriage doesn’t have to be a dirty word (or, as some may believe, a prison sentence). The truth is that marriage still remains a creation of God meant to eternally unite a man and a woman spiritually, physically and emotionally. And since we know from Genesis that everything that God creates is good, we can also infer that marriage should be good.
So when it isn’t—the romance has worn off, the good times have faded and as they say on MTV’s The Real World, “people stop being polite and start getting real,”—one should fall back on God’s word. In scripture, we can pull a number of principles for having a happier and long marriage, including:
- Marriage is a spiritual union and therefore God should be at its center. (Psalm 127:1) Prior to selecting a partner, during the courtship and engagement and throughout the marriage, it is important to keep God as the focus. Conflict can’t live on in an environment where both partners are genuinely seeking God’s guidance and living daily to please Him. Just as Goliath was no match for David, who can come against a relationship divinely, orchestrated by God? (Matthew 19:6)
- What you say to your spouse (and more often how you say it) willaffect your relationship with him or her. (Proverbs 12:18) If you honestly assess the things you’ve said to your spouse and the tone and attitude in which you’ve said them, have your words served to build-up or tear-down your relationship? Remember that God is about black and white not shades of grey so answers of ‘neither’ or ‘a little of both’ are not acceptable responses. Each day, you say things that either empower or hurt your marriage so accept this responsibility and work daily to improve. (see the “Silence is Golden” Tongal Diarrhea devotional from 3/20/11 if you need more help in this area).
- Continuously consult the Love 101 manual—I Corinthians 13:4-8.When you’re at your wits end or even if you’re just looking for way to spice up your relationship, try living out one of these love-isms towards your spouse each day.
- You and your spouse will both make mistakes and hurt each other but you have to remain willing to forgive (Ephesians 4:32). When forgiveness of your spouse doesn’t come easy, just remember that it’s God’s commandment to forgive, not your spouse’s. Hanging on to hurts and harboring bitterness against your spouse not only works to further deteriorate your marriage, but it can also affect your well-being and block future blessings.
Once again, God meant for marriage to be a good thing, and our prayer is that all of the married folk reading this today are experiencing this goodness. We encourage you (particularly if there hasn’t been much marital bliss in your home lately) to earnestly apply these spiritual truths in your relationship and see how God will begin to move in your relationship. If you are going through tough times in your marriage, try not to lose hope. God will honor your steady commitment to your spouse and relationship.