By Ryan Kelly –
One of the most important things that we can do in our lives is to support our marriage and our families. God has ordained this for each of us, and we must protect it and grow it continuously.
The following are Biblical tips on how we can best serve our spouses and children.
Date your spouse
“Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ ” (1 Peter 4:8).
“Be kindly affectionate to one another … in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).
Continue to date your spouse like you did before you married. Successful marriages don’t just happen; they must be developed. Don’t take one another for granted or the resulting monotony could harm your marriage. Keep your love for one another growing by expressing it to each other; otherwise, love might fade and you could drift apart.
Remember that God joined you together in marriage.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. … So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5, 6).
Don’t forget that God joined you together in marriage, and He desires that you stay together and be happy. He will bring happiness and love into your lives if you will obey His divine commandments.
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
“Pray for one another” (James 5:16).
Praying together is a wonderful activity that will help your marriage succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Kneel before God and ask Him for true love for one another, for forgiveness, for strength, for wisdom—for the solution to problems. God will answer. You won’t be automatically cured of every fault, but God will have greater access to change your heart and actions.
Guard your thoughts
“As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
The wrong kind of thinking can profoundly harm your marriage. The devil will tempt you with thoughts like, “Our marriage was a mistake,” “She doesn’t understand me,” “I can’t take much more of this,” “We can always divorce if necessary,” “I’ll go home to mother,” or, “He smiled at that woman.” This kind of thinking is dangerous because your thoughts ultimately govern your actions. Avoid seeing, saying, reading, or hearing anything that—or associating with anyone who—suggests being unfaithful. Thoughts uncontrolled are like an automobile left in neutral on a steep hill; the result could be disaster.
Never go to bed angry with one another.
“Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).
“Confess your trespasses to one another” (James 5:16).
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
To remain angry over hurts and grievances—big or little—can be dangerous. Unless addressed in a timely manner, even little problems can become set in your mind as convictions and can adversely affect your outlook on life. This is why God said to let your anger cool before going to bed. Be big enough to forgive and to say, “I’m sorry.”
Keep Christ in the center of your home.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).
“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
This really is the greatest principle, because it’s the one that enables all the others. The vital ingredient of happiness in the home is not in diplomacy, strategy, or our effort to overcome problems, but rather in a union with Christ. Hearts filled with Christ’s love will not be far apart for long. With Christ in the home, a marriage has a greater chance at being successful. Jesus can wash away bitterness and disappointment and restore love and happiness.
Agree that divorce is not the answer.
“What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).
The Bible says that the ties of marriage are meant to be unbreakable. Divorce is allowed only in cases of adultery. But even then, it is not demanded. Forgiveness is always better than divorce, even in the case of unfaithfulness.
Keep the family circle closed
“The heart of her husband safely trusts her. … She does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:11, 12).
“The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your … (Malachi 2:14).
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).
Private family matters should never be shared with others outside your home—not even parents. A person outside the marriage to sympathize with or listen to complaints can be used by the devil to estrange the hearts of a husband and wife. Solve your private home problems privately. No one else, except a minister, a very close prayer partner, or a marriage counselor should be involved.
Always be truthful with each other, and never keep secrets. Avoid telling jokes at the expense of your spouse’s feelings, and vigorously defend each other.
“Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
“Love … does not seek its own [selfish advantage]” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5).
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“I discipline my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
“Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts, and do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin” (Romans 6:12, 13).
Overdoing will ruin your marriage. So will underdoing. Time with God, work, love, rest, exercise, play, meals, and social contact must be balanced in a marriage or something will snap. Too much work and a lack of rest, proper food, and exercise can lead a person to be critical, intolerant, and negative.
The Bible also recommends a temperate sex life (1 Corinthians 7:3–6) because degrading and intemperate sex acts can destroy love and respect for one another. Social contact with others is essential; true happiness won’t be found in isolation. We must learn to laugh and enjoy wholesome, good times. To be serious all the time is dangerous. Overdoing or underdoing in anything weakens the mind, body, conscience, and the ability to love and respect one another. Don’t let intemperance damage your marriage.