What can we do to build strong marriages?
Number one: Marry a believer.
Deuteronomy 7:3, 4 you shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.
1 Kings 11:1f Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.
Ezra 10:2 And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.
Nehemiah 10:30 We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.
Nehemiah 13:23f In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. 24 And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. 25 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. 27 Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?”
Malachi 2:11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
Message received? Believer is only to marry a believer. And….disobedience comes with a heavy price.
Amazingly, in spite of this clear instruction believers raise objections. The most common ones are:
Objection: but I love this unsaved person.
Response: 1) Why did you allow yourself to get emotionally attached to someone God doesn’t want you to marry? 2) Do you love God more? If so, you will obey Him.
Objection: but there is no believer available for me to marry.
Response: Read these verses again. No such exception allowed. If Jesus is your Lord, you will obey Him for your own good. Marriage is not guaranteed to anyone, and singleness has been used powerfully by God throughout the centuries.
Objection: but if I marry this unsaved person he might become a believer.
Response: Read these verses again. No such exception allowed.
Objection: a friend married a nonbeliever, and (s)he got saved
Response: That does not mean that the disobedient act was not sinful. God works in mysterious ways. The fact remains nobody ever said dying to self and following Christ would be easy. Obedience first.
Number two: Remember the purpose of marriage.
We get it that marriage is the basic building block of society,
designed by God to be a committed, loving relationship between husband and wife where children are raised to follow Him.
But it is much more than that.
so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
Just as Christ is concerned with the holiness of His church, so the husband is to be concerned with the holiness, purity, and righteousness of his wife. Christian marriage is not to be self-absorbed. Husband and wife need to do more than look at each other. If Christ is truly the Lord of the marriage, then reflecting His character will dictate continual, specific action steps to become more like Him.
In addition consider Ephesians 5:32
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Read in context and see this verse follows directly after many verses aimed explicitly at husbands and wives.
How can that be? The point is that “this blissful Christ-church relationship is actually reflected here on earth in the union of a husband and his wife so that by the strength of the former bond (Christ – church) the latter (husband-wife) is now able to function most gloriously, bringing supreme happiness to the marriage partners, blessing to mankind and glory to God.”
Do we get what that is saying? Marriage is a foreshadowing, a modeling to a sinful planet of God’s love for the church and our eternal relationship with Him!
Clearly God’s purpose for your marriage is much larger than you could have guessed. It’s way more than just about your happiness, your pleasure, your comfort.
Every Christian marriage can reflect to the world Christ’s love and concern and compassion for His church. And what a lofty, inspiring purpose that is!
Number three: Husband: know your job description.
For the husband is head of the wife…
Just as every country has one leader, every company has one president, every car has only one steering wheel so every marriage needs one leader. One. In a marriage husband is designated by God to be that one leader.
What kind of leader?
On the one hand are those men who think they are supposed to make their wives submit to them. Neither this verse nor any other in the entire Bible says any such thing.
On the other hand is the tendency to imitate Adam. What was his first sin?
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
What is Adam doing when Eve is being tempted? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He’s being passive. Imitating Adam’s passivity is no virtue.
So what kind of leader is the husband supposed to be?
Husbands, love your wives…..
Husbands are called to be loving leaders. And what is the extent of their love for their wives? Read the entire verse:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
So how much should a husband love his wife? Enough to die for her.
The husband’s authority is “soft, gentle, tender, and caring. It’s the authority of one who provides. It’s the authority of one who protects, who cares, who meets needs, who by strength and wisdom insulates, preserves, secures.”
But what happens to husbands who don’t treat their wives appropriately?
1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Get it, men? Mistreatment of wives damages your prayer life. No sane man wants that.
Number four: Wife, know your job description.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord
Submit. So the Bible looks down on women by telling them to submit to husbands? Not so fast. The wife is not the only one told to submit. Try “1 Corinthians 16:16, submit yourselves to everyone. Hebrews 13:17, submit yourselves to the leaders of the church. 1 Peter 2:13 submit yourselves to the laws of the land. 1 Peter 5:5, submit yourselves to those older than you. James 4:7, submit yourselves to God.”
Submission “makes for meaningful relationships”. Submission of wife to husband puts order into the family structure. And – if the husband is loving his wife – not in a dictatorial or passive manner but enough to die for her – submission becomes outright appealing.
And lest we are tempted to think women are to be confined to the kitchen, study Proverbs 31 in depth to see the wide range of activities of a biblical wife…
Number five: Work at your marriage. Why? “The most difficult thing about marriage is that there are two people in it.” It brings together two sinners who are committing their lives to each other but are from different families, backgrounds, experiences, customs.
So if the attitude is “I am going to stay with you as long as you give me what I want, and when you don’t give me what I want, I’m out of here” don’t expect the marriage to last. Clearly, selfishness is one of marriages greatest enemies.
Marriage is an outstanding opportunity for both partners to learn to die to self daily, to try to meet the needs of the other, to be “other focused”, to practice the many “one anothers” in the Bible.
It comes as a surprise to some people that marriage doesn’t automatically solve all problems. Actually, it might bring more unresolved problems to the surface. “Today the emphasis is on individualism, rights, freedoms, liberties, self-esteem. All of that individualistic thinking is absolutely deadly to any meaningful marriage and family relationships.
“In gaining the rights that the humanists have sold us, in gaining the rights of individual freedom, we have lost the privileges of meaningful relationships.”
Marriage as God intended then becomes a permanent surrender of all you are to your partner. That certainly is contrary to the flesh. And that will take work.
(Do you see the best marriage preparation is to become more mature in the Lord, dealing with problems in your own life so you don’t bring them into marriage?)
Number six: Read the Bible and pray together regularly.
Why? Well, husband and wife are a team. They have the same Lord – assuming two Christians married. If they want to strengthen their team and move forward as a team reading and prayer help them grow together, make plans together, face problems together.
If you work through various life issues by yourself, you can do it and do it well. But in marriage you have to mesh “your dreams, desires, attitudes, assumptions, needs and habits with those of your spouse. The effort to do so can be stressful.” When you pray and read with your spouse, you are drawn into unity with God, and as a result, with one another.
Doing those two spiritual disciplines together is no guarantee of marital bliss, but countless couples will testify to its aid in strengthening their union, going deep in sharing their personal spiritual lives and growing together as a couple.
Yes, sometimes scheduling time together can be difficult, but the more often you can do this the more you’ll benefit.
“The most overlooked secret for a strong marriage is going into God’s presence together to pray and read His ord together. Spiritual intimacy is one of the most beautiful aspects of a marriage. Praying and reading together help make it happen.”
Number seven: Forgive each other.
Think about it: being married to a saved – but fallen human being will give you countless opportunities to forgive – which you must take advantage of. This is an absolute necessity.
Memorize and obey
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger
Some couples apply this verse by refusing to go to bed at night until all anger issues have been resolved. Sometimes that means getting little sleep – but when they did go to sleep, harmony had been restored to the relationship.
Refusing to forgive, letting grudges build up is giving a cancer permission to grow in the relationship.
Think about it: forgiveness is at the very center of the Christian life. Jesus forgives our sins. Since that is the case, husband and wife: follow the example of your leader.
“Never is a man more Christ-like than when he forgives.”
Number eight: Realize the power of your words. Memorize Ecclesiastes 12:11
The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.
Daily purpose to put some well driven nails into your communication with your spouse. Build her up. Encourage her. Praise her. Give her the emotional security she craves.
Read the Song of Solomon and seek to imitate their tender words. Dedicate your mouth to the Lord.
One couple shared that they start their daily prayer time together by praying a blessing over each other. They do this to edify each other and make them feel loved.
Communication has been described as the key to your marriage – because it is. Words matter. Use them wisely.
Number nine: Pick a marriage verse – a verse that encapsulates what you want God to do in your marriage. You might look at this verse as the vision statement of your union. Put some prayer into choosing a verse that both of you can embrace that sums up what both of you want your union to achieve for the Lord.
One couple who believes God has called them to be evangelists selected 2 Corinthians 12:15. Another picked Philippians 3:10.
Hopefully it will inspire, motivate, and encourage. Display it prominently, refer to it frequently as a reminder of God’s call on your union.
Number ten: Learn your spouse’s love language. What are love languages? They are the unique ways in which each of us perceives and defines love. The usual love languages listed are (in no particular order) gifts, service, touch, time, words of encouragement. For some of us to be loved means receiving a tangible gift. For others it means someone doing an act of service for us. For others it means hugs/touch. For others it means someone who wants to spend time with us. For others it means hearing encouraging words. If your spouse defines “love” as tangible gifts, then receiving love in a different language won’t mean as much to her. Be sensitive. Give your spouse the kind of love she values.
Number eleven: Have date nights regularly. What is date night? A leisurely one-on-one with your spouse.
Why? To keep your marital relationship strong. It is possible for husband and wife to be so busy serving in ministry that they slowly drift apart. Date night keeps the freshness and closeness in a marriage. Also, consider what you are modeling to those you are disciplining by investing quality time and energy in your spouse.
Date night does not have to be expensive. Suggestions: go for a hike together, explore parts of your city you haven’t visited before, sit around a camp fire, cook together, try to stump each other on memories from the past, watch a movie. The list of inexpensive but memorable things you can do is long. “Married couples whose marriages survive and thrive tend to be those who are able to connect through shared experiences and passions.” Date night makes that happen.
One wife writes: “My husband pulled out a stack of 3×5 cards and said we were going to play a little game. He had written a question on each card: “What is something your spouse does very well but doesn’t know he does well?” “What is your favorite joke?” “What’s a childhood memory you’ll never forget?” One of us would pull a card and read the question. Then the other would answer. We took turns reading and answering until we were at the bottom of the stack. We laughed. We dreamed. We reminisced.”
Another wife writes: “One of my favorite dates is when my husband and I climb up onto our roof with some blankets, a radio and a sweet snack. There, under the stars and moonlight, we can talk, snuggle and listen to the radio. It is romantic, free and something we can do anytime, weather permitting.”
Tips: do everything possible to have date night regularly. Many couples reserve one night each week for it.
Experiment! Go for the unusual, the unexpected.
Have fun! “Research shows that couples who engage in fun activities together enjoy deeper intimacy.”
Number twelve: Why don’t you come up with your own ideas how to build and keep your marriage strong! The possibilities are endless. Go for it!