Marriage is a great blessing from God. It is a beautiful relationship between two people who love each other and are committed to creating a home together. One of the best things about life is being able to share it with those that mean the most to us. And marriage is the most powerful expression of this privilege.
But marriage is no fairy tale. Just like life, marriage has its ups and downs, and there are tons and tons of days when you just can’t stand to look at your spouse or be in the same room with them.
Apart from this, the pressures and distractions of the fast-paced world we live in can impose incredible strain on our marriage. We are constantly being bombarded with messaging that glorifies selfishness, encourages callow pursuits and belittles the blessing of marriage. All of this can take a toll, such that we’re left struggling to stay involved and keep our marriage going strong.
How do we build and maintain a healthy Christian marriage in all this turmoil? These 5 bible-based principles teach us where to start.
1: Faith comes first
A Christian marriage is built on the bedrock of faith and belief in God. This is especially so as marriage itself is modeled on the relationship between Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:25 says “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
This is important for two reasons. First, the greatest ideal of a healthy marriage is Christ’s relationship with the church. He loved us with a love so great he was not only prepared to sacrifice himself for us, he actually did. Could there possibly be a greater love than this? Only through faith in God and the true ideal of a Christian marriage can we be in a better position to apply these principles for a healthy Christian home.
Second, it can get very difficult to face up to the challenges of life and marriage. Life is certainly not a bed of roses, and neither is marriage. But through your strong faith and belief in God, you can access the strength you need to love your spouse and remain strong through thick and thin.
2: Love like the bible says
Just like the greatest ideal of marriage can be found in the bible, there is no greater expression of love than what the bible teaches. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.” Can you imagine a love purer than this?
Love is not the same as “being in love”. C.S. Lewis describes the difference between the two as follows: “Love, as distinct from ‘being in love’, is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit: reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.”
A great way to always tell if you remain within this pure definition of love is to put your name at the start of each sentence in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (John is patient; Mary does not envy). Every time you feel yourself sliding, conduct a test and see if that definition of love is a definition of you. To be clear, no human love can possibly rise to this level of purity all by itself. But with God’s grace and our commitment to our spouse, we can continue to aspire and work towards exhibiting love of this nature in our lives daily.
3: Cultivate trust and respect
Trust is an important part of what creates and sustains a good marriage. And when spouses love and can rely on each other in the most fundamental ways, respect follows naturally. Three levels of trust are often talked about. The first is fidelity – emotional and physical faithfulness to your spouse.
The second is honesty – the deep-seated assurance that your spouse will hide nothing from you or deceive you about who they are, what they are doing or thinking. True honesty can be difficult because the other side of honesty is a readiness to hear the truth. If you are unwilling to listen to the truth or have a version of events you are looking for, it gets harder for your spouse to trust you to handle the truth.
The third level of trust concerns what you will do. Spouses trust each other to be there for each other, to be patient with each other and watch each other’s backs. If your spouse cannot trust you in these basic ways, it’s much harder to respect you or rely on you. Cultivate trust and respect to take your marriage a notch higher in your levels of intimacy and reliance on each other.
4: It’s okay to disagree
It would be wrong and dangerous to think because your marriage aims for the highest of Christian ideals, it has to be perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage – not on this earth. You and your spouse will reach points where you find yourselves at odds with each other, holding very different viewpoints or just plain mad at each other.
Remember that you’re human, and will have the most human disagreements. You will argue over gas, dinner, why your spouse didn’t call, a purchase you both didn’t agree on and a thousand other things. Disagreement doesn’t make your marriage less Christian or loving.
But don’t let arguments or disagreement turn to strife. Season your words with salt so you don’t needlessly hurt your partner. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. And always remember to check yourself with the true definition of love. Disagreement can happen, but it doesn’t have to drive you apart. Fine every way to reach a common ground or simply compromise – you don’t need to have your way every time.
5: Communicate openly and often
Finally, while the advice to communicate with your spouse may seem cliché, there’s a reason why it is often repeated. Open and honest communication can save a lot of trouble in marriage. Many arguments happen because we fail to communicate our true position, what we really feel or how we really see things. This often results in confused messages that create strife.
No matter what anyone tells you, marriage does not make you a mind reader. You cannot always expect your partner to pick up on your unspoken arguments, comments or position. While certain couples can develop such a close relationship overtime that they can instinctively know what the other is thinking, it doesn’t happen all the time.
The best way to ensure that you and your partner are on the same page is to do some good, old-fashioned communicating. So, as cliché as it sounds, communication is an important factor in creating a healthy Christian home.
In summary, always keep in mind that marriage is a lot more about what you put in than what you get out of it. So prayerfully put these principles to work and always maintain a mindset that you will give your spouse the best marriage they could ever ask for. God will take care of the rest.
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