A lot has changed over the last 3,000 years, but apparently marriage struggles haven’t. Husbands didn’t love their lives. Wives didn’t respect their husbands. Spouses had to be told to put the other person first. People said stupid things to hurt one another, and wives would occasionally become “quarrelsome.” As you read what the Bible wrote about marriage 1,000s of years ago, so much of it is surprisingly relevant to the issues marriages face today.
Here are ten tips for how to have a better marriage today…
#1 – Pursue Your Spouse Like You Did When You Were Dating (Ephesians 5:21)
Put your spouse first and fight for the relationship!
#2 – Compete With One Another to Try and Out-Love the Other Person (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
People will use phrases like, “Nothing would bring me more joy than seeing you happy,” but do you live that out in your marriage? Imagine how amazing your marriage could be if each of you were constantly trying to out do one another when it comes to making the other person happy.
- What if each of you found the most joy in seeing the other person happy?
- What if each of you cared more about the other persons happiness than your own?
- To make it a bit awkward, what if your goal in the bedroom was to give the other person as much as pleasure as is possible?
#3 – Have Appropriate Boundaries With Your Family (Ephesians 5:31, Genesis 2:24)
When you get married, you take two lives and join them into a single new life. Unfortunately, some parents believe they’re the 3rd part of their offspring’s marriage. That NEVER ends well!
We’re supposed to leave our father and mother and join with our spouse to form a new family. As an adult and as a new family, you get to choose your level of involvement with your family.
In marriage, you must establish how you will relate to your family. Parent/child dynamics are all different, and they’re also constantly shifting. Some parents are better than others at understanding boundaries once they’re child is married. If your family tends to be controlling and manipulative, you need to establish extremely clear boundaries with them, and you must not reward manipulative behavior.
#4 – Always Be Patient and Kind to One Another (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Virtually all of us had the following words read at our wedding:
The words are much easier to say than to live out on a daily basis. It’s easy to love someone when they’re behaving lovable, but true love loves while someone is behaving in an unlovable manner. So often, we default to treating people the way they’ve treated us, rather than choosing to love them as scripture commands.
True love is patient when they’re being a jerk.
True love is patient when they’re being lazy.
True love chooses to be kind, even when you’re feeling cranky.
True love chooses to be kind when they are unkind.
True love chooses to be kind in good times, and in bad.
True love doesn’t withhold love due to performance or behavior.
#5 – Pride Leads to Fights, Humility Builds Unity (Proverbs 16:18, 11:2, 13:10)
I have no idea how many times I’ve found myself in disagreement with my wife where it could have been very quickly resolved by me simply saying, “I’m sorry. I was in the wrong.” However, pride gets in the way. Instead of owning my mistakes, I fight not over the issues, but either to be right or to be understood. So, I keep talking and talking and talking, and with each word, I dig myself a deeper and deeper hole.
The strange thing about fighting just to win the fight is that you don’t actually win when you do this. Even if they give in and fully concede your victory, you haven’t won in the fight that matters: your relationship. By winning, you lose relational credibility. No one enjoys a jerk who can’t admit they’re wrong. While your spouse may love you, they don’t want you to be a prideful jerk.
Equally as strange: it’s much easier to trust someone who can admit they’re in the wrong. Humility is an incredibly attractive trait in a person. Not fake humility. Not low self-esteem. But, a person who has a proper view of themselves and can admit their mistakes…yes.
#6 – Don’t Bring Up the Past …don’t keep a box of ammunition (1 Corinthians 13:5)
One of the most damaging things you can do in a marriage is keep a long list of everything your spouse has done wrong, and use that list against them as often as is possible. Just using the golden rule, you most likely hate it when people do this to you. So, don’t do it to your spouse.
On a more practical level, bringing up the past compounds whatever the argument is that you’re having. Instead of simply attempting to resolve the current conflict, you’re rehashing a past argument. In addition, they’re going to be frustrated with you for bring up the past. So, you go from having one point of tension to having three points of tension, and that’s if only one of you brings up the past.
- Do save every mistake they’ve made to use as ammunition later on?
- Do you constantly bring up the past?
This one I naturally drift toward. I’m deeply analytical and notice patterns. So, when something comes up, my brain naturally starts making connections. When talking through a disagreement, I want to express the patterns I’ve noticed. But instead of helping coming to an understanding, this sort of thing just opens old wounds.
When arguments/disagreements come up, do your best to stick to the topic at hand. Bringing up the past will only escalate the emotions. If you notice a legitimate pattern, bring it up in a setting where neither one of you is emotional, and with a plan to help resolve the issues.
#7 – Never Say Anything With the Intention of Hurting Your Spouse (Proverbs 18:21)
All of us grew up repeating the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I think, by default, we all believe it as well, but if you stop and think about it, that’s one of the dumbest phrases on the face of the planet.
Sticks and stones can break your bones, and doctors can fix you in a matter of weeks. A hurtful sentence from someone you love can cause life-long insecurities. You most likely have some insecurities based on words which were said to you over 10 years ago.
Once you’ve said something, you can never take it back. You can apologize. You can state the opposite, but once you’ve said something, it’s out there. A poorly thought out sentence or intentionally harmful word can cause a rift in your marriage that takes years to heal.
Don’t say things to hurt your spouse.
Don’t say things which you don’t mean.
#8 – Flee Sexual Immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18)
Sex is intended to bond a husband and wife as one. It’s something uniquely shared between a husband and a wife. When sexual intimacy is preserved in a marriage, it creates an incredible opportunity for intimacy.
If you can truly say, “I only have eyes for you,” you are in an incredible place. Unfortunately, far too many people have eyes for both their spouse and the many people they regularly lust after.
The great thing about marriage is that, while we’re commanded to run from one thing (sexual immorality), we’re likewise to commanded to run to something (your spouse).
This next tip is where things become really fun…
#9 – Have a Healthy Sex Life (1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5:29)
Of all the commands in the Bible, this is one of my favorites. As much as people criticize the Bible for it’s narrow view of sex, the Bible is one of the most pro-sex books on the planet…but in the right context. There’s literally an entire book of the Bible about it.
Four things to consider:
- Sex is the glue which bonds a marriage together. It creates oneness. (Genesis 2:22-24)
- Sex helps to fight temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5)
- Sex is good (…the whole book of Song of Solomon)
- Sex is a critical part of your marriage which you can’t ignore (1 Corinthians 7)
#10 – When There is Gap Between Expectation and Performance – Believe the Best Rather than Assume the Worst (1 Corinthians 13:7)
There are going to be gaps between what you expect your spouse to do, and what actually occurs. It’s going to happen a lot. When there is a gap between behavior and expectation, you choose what you put in the gap. You can trust the person or you can become suspicious of the person.
When you’re continually suspicious of your spouse and immediately jump to accusations when there is a gap, you squeeze the joy out of your spouse. Often times, there is a reason for the gap. Your spouse knows it when you’re assuming the worst of them. Even if they’re in the wrong, this is de-moralizing. If they have a reason for the gap, it’s frustrating.
Love chooses to believe the best instead of assuming the worst.
If their continued behavior has made it impossible for you to trust them, then you need to have conversation (when you’re not emotional) about how to rebuild trust.
Here’s a great sermon by Andy Stanley teaching on this subject.
What are your tips for a better marriage today?
If you liked this blog, here are two more blogs from Modern Ministry on marriage: