In celebration of eleven years of blissful marriage, I am sharing these five biblical principles for a strong marriage with my readers. May those of you who are married have many more years together in happiness!
1. Forgiveness. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, ESV). We all sin, and the best way to get past these obstacles is to love each other deeply. It makes it easier to forgive one another. Whether the sin is trivial, like leaving the cap off of the toothpaste, or potentially catastrophic, such as an affair, deep love and forgiveness can move us beyond ourselves so that we can put a rest to those things that plague our hearts.
2. Love. Remember what love is, and what it isn’t. When my husband and I married, we promised to love one another until death do us part, and we meant it. The Bible gives us a good definition of love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude; It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice with wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, ESV).
3. Sex. Don’t neglect each others sexual needs. I have spoken to many of my friends that either don’t get enough from their spouse, or aren’t willing to have sex often with their spouse. The Bible warns us that this behavior can lead to affairs. “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone, but to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone, but to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4, NIV). Be generous with the sex you offer to your spouse, and make it fun! Men, if your wife doesn’t enjoy sex, the chances are that she either doesn’t feel cherished or you need to find out what she likes. Shower her with genuine compliments and take your time. I recommend a book called The Act of Marriage for anyone wanting additional information.
4. Respect. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33, NIV). Ephesians 5 has a great description detailing how a man needs to love his wife more than his own life. This makes for a happy wife, and helps her to trust and respect decisions that he makes for the family. Wives need to find the things they respect about their husbands and remember to not only tell him that she respects him, but to show him by her actions. I think women have a tendency to be critical. This is a natural habit, sometimes born of correcting children during motherhood. However, men especially feel unloved when they don’t feel respected or when they are nagged. Therefore it is important for wives to only (kindly) make a request once, and if he doesn’t do what you need after a reasonable amount of time, take care of it yourself or leave it undone. Your spouse is more important.
5. Self- Sacrifice. “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26b-28, ESV). I once heard that marriage isn’t a 50/50 deal, but a 100/100 deal, and that is very true. We can’t go into marriage with a selfish attitude and make it work. For a great marriage, sacrifices of our personal time are made daily in serving one another. We also make sure to spend time together without the kids. Invest in your marriage, and you will reap the rewards of a life well lived!