Biblical Advice for Better Marriages
I determined years ago that my preaching was futile and fruitless as long as I relied more on human wisdom than God’s perfect plan. I’ve also learned over the years that too many brethren are looking for a “quick fix” to their marriage problems, and often one that won’t require of them any real change or great sacrifice. However, I’ve also been encourage by the number of husbands and wives who desire to become more godly, and who long for the Lord’s wisdom that is “open to reason” (Jm.3:17 – ESV). With that in mind, let me pass along to all married couples some Biblical advice for better marriages.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR
Don’t focus on your mate as much as you focus on yourself. Too often we want to talk about the faults and failures of others before we’re willing to honestly examine our own. Be willing to do better and try harder, even if your mate refuses, because you know it’s right and God will be well-pleased. Take responsibility for your own words and actions. Remember, while you may influence someone toward change for the better, you cannot force him or her to change. Take a look first at yourself and see self as the solution to at least part of the problem(s).
DO NOT RETURN EVIL FOR EVIL
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom.12:17-18,21). Revenge and retaliation will never solve any problems in a marriage. Sin never solves any problems, it only breeds newer and bigger ones. Don’t let your mate’s bad attitudes and actions cause you to sin. Ask the Lord for strength and be determined to return good for evil. It’s the right course to pursue; it will make you more Christ-like, and just may save your marriage.
ADMIT YOUR FAULTS
Heart-felt and sincere expressions of “I’m sorry; I was wrong; please forgive me” can heal a broken marriage almost as fast as anything else. And even if your mate doesn’t admit his or her faults, still you must in order to be forgiven by God (1 Jn.1:9). The marital conflict only continues on a downward spiral when pride prevents one or both in the relationship from humbly acknowledging weaknesses and failures. Pride will destroy a marriage and separate one from favor with God (Jm.4:6). Don’t allow stubbornness to weaken you spiritually and wreck your marriage. Humbly admit your faults and resolve to do better.
BE WILLING TO FORGIVE
You must, it’s required of you. Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt.6:14-15). Again Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him” (Lk.17:3-4). No doubt this command is hard. Surely your faith will need strengthening during those moments when you’re inclined to be unmerciful. I’m of the persuasion that perhaps forgiveness is the most difficult command to follow. However, forgiveness becomes easier to embrace when you remember how merciful and gracious God has been toward you. He forgave you ever time you truly confessed the sin, and He asks that you do the same for others when they repent...even if it’s the same sin they committed last week. Remember, the one who ends up hurting the most when you choose NOT to forgive is you.
SEEK GODLY COMPANY
“Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits." (1 Cor.15:33). It is very difficult to keep a marriage pure when your main associations are with impure people. You need friends who will encourage you to seek God first, love your mate, and be committed to your marriage. You don’t need to associate with those who will encourage you to “divorce” your mate when you have problems. You don’t need to associate with those who will seduce you to sin, or who will give unwise; unbiblical; unloving advice. For some couples, a better marriage may mean cleaning up your companions.
BE COMMITTED TO MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE WORK
Work every day at your marriage. Marriage only works when both work at marriage. It seems to me that some of our youth have believed the lie that goes something like, “If you marry the right person (a Christian), then you don’t have to work at your marriage once you’re married.” Not so! Now, I wouldn’t for one moment discount the great importance of marrying one who loves the Lord and is determined to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt.6:33). However, when we stop working on our marriages, our marriages will stop working for us. Those marriages that are not growing are those marriages that are dying! When someone tells me they’re “not in love anymore” or don’t want to continue in their marriage, I generally ask the question, “Why do you resent having to work at your marriage?” This seems to get to the root cause. You see, I want to know why someone has arrived at the place in their marriage where they no longer feel compelled to serve, sacrifice, and seek to save that marriage. Marriage means work and work requires commitment. Be committed to making your marriage work!