You can get the best advice in the world, but if you don’t apply it, you won’t receive the benefits. Yes, in marriage there are two partners involved and it’s difficult to follow the advice if your partner won’t help in the process. But more often it’s a matter of us not WANTING to do the work it will take, or we think we’re the exception to the “rules”, or we procrastinate until things get exceptionally complicated to fix, or we only want to do it if our partner will do what we believe they should do. And it’s true… there is a lot of validity in all of those arguments as far as why we aren’t following good advice. But as the famous saying goes, “How’s that working for you?”
If your marriage is better because you aren’t taking someone’s advice then you’re probably wise. But if your marriage isn’t doing well, then it may be good to follow it even if you don’t want to. “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice“ (Proverbs 12:15).
We’d like to share with you some wise advice, that is based on biblical principles which we believe will help your marriage if you follow them. As with any “rules” there are usually exceptions that can be made (unless they come directly from God Himself). This is especially true when you see the word “never.” But don’t get stuck on that word, look at the context of the rules and honestly look to see if God may be telling you that this advice will help your marriage when applied.
So, the following are 10 Biblical Rules for Marriage put together by author and counselor Steve Arterburn from Newlife.com. We will give additional insights in (brackets). Dr Arterburn writes:
Here are ten lessons from Scripture that will be sure to enrich your marriage. Meditate upon them, and ask God to help you prayerfully, wisely, lovingly, and creatively put them into practice.
1. Never Bring Up Mistakes of the Past. Stop criticizing others or it will come back on you. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven“ Luke 6:37.
(A good rule in working out differences is to refrain from being “hysterical” and “historical” with each other UNLESS you see that it will help your marriage. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen“ Ephesians 4:29.
Think: “will this help or hurt” your marriage before you say it. YOU might feel better for having said it, but at what cost? “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you“ Ephesians 4:31-32).
2. Neglect the Whole World Rather Than Each Other.
(We may think our spouse can put up with neglect for “good reasons” but don’t be so sure. The divorce courts are filled with such cases. Think about it — what does it benefit you if you get all or most of your “to do list” accomplished but your marriage relationship fails because of neglect?
“If you’re finding yourself oppressed by piles of tasks that never seem to get done, I encourage you to join me in making a renewed commitment to daily prayer. These days I’m praying, ‘Lord, I need your wisdom to sort out the important things from the urgent'” – Jim Daly, from Focus on the Family.
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your heard; for riches do not endure forever and a crown is not secure for all generations“ Proverbs 27:23-24.)
3. Never Go to Sleep with an Argument Unsettled. And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold“ Ephesians 4:26-27.
(Sometimes it may be best to agree to re-approach a problem the next day because you’re not able to resolve it at that time. But don’t go to bed stewing about it either. Agree to leave the situation alone that night and re-approach it the next day with a fresher approach. This has helped us many times.)
4. At Least Once a Day, Try to Say Something Complimentary to Your Spouse. “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit“ Proverbs 15:4. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” Proverbs 25:11.
5. Never Meet Without an Affectionate Welcome. “Kiss me again and again, your love is sweeter than wine“ Song of Solomon 1:2. “Greet one another with a holy kiss“ 2 Corinthians 13:12.
(This is by far my [Steve’s] favorite rule for a happy marriage. Remember our idea for the “22 Minute Date” a few weeks ago? Well, this one is even better. It’s called the 10 second kiss. It’s a great way to leave the house in the morning and to come home in the evening. Try the 10 second kiss tomorrow, or better yet, today!)
6. For Richer or Poorer, Rejoice in Every Moment That God Has Given You Together. “A bowl of soup with someone you love is better than steak with some you hate“ Proverbs 15:17.
(We know so many widows and widowers who live in the “if only’s” of regret that they didn’t do more celebrating — embracing each moment together rather than taking them for granted. Today is a gift —that is why it is called the present!)
7. If You Have a Choice Between Making Yourself or Your Mate Look Good, Choose Your Mate. “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act” – Proverbs 15:17. “Have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus…”
(See last week’s Marriage Message for help if you need an attitude adjustment.)
8. If They are Breathing, Your Mate will Eventually Offend You; So Learn to Forgive. “I am warning you, if another believer sins, rebuke him, if he repents, forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, forgive him” – Luke 17:3-4.
(“One sinner plus another sinner equals two sinners. Double trouble under one roof! In the covenant of marriage God asks two self-willed sinners to come together and become one flesh —not in body only, but in spirit, in attitude, in communication, in love. It is a lifetime challenge.” – Bill Hybels. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you“ Colossians 3:13.)
9. Don’t Use Faith, The Bible, or God as a Hammer. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it“ John 3:17.
10. Let Love Be Your Guidepost. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable and keeps no record of when it has been wronged” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.
We pray these “rules” will release your marriage to new heights of understanding.
Cindy and Steve Wright