You can get the best advice in the world, but if you don’t apply it, you won’t receive the benefits. That applies to biblical rules for a happy marriage.
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.”
It can also be that 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. But as the famous saying goes, “How’s that working for you?”
If your marriage is not in a good place, then it may be wise to try following their advice. Remember: “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.“ (Proverbs 12:15)
Biblical Rules for a Happy Marriage
We’re going to share some wise advice with you. It is based on biblical principles, which can help your marriage if you follow them. As with any “rules” there are usually exceptions that can be made. That is, unless they come directly from God Himself. So, look at the context of each of these rules and prayerfully look to see if God may be telling you to apply them to your marriage relationship.
The following are 10 Biblical Rules for Marriage put together (several years ago) by author and counselor Steve Arterburn from Newlife.com. In addition, we give additional insights after each one 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. Don’t 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” (bringing up past forgiven grievances) with each other. “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. Forgive 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 herd. 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)
[If you’re not able to resolve it at that time, then either resolve it then and there, or re-approach the problem the next day. But don’t go to bed stewing about it either. Agree to leave the situation alone that night. And then 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, but 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)
It’s important to:
“Compliment your spouse on things you admire about him or her. And don’t take it for granted that your words are superfluous. It’s a simple matter to say such things as: ‘You did a good job’; ‘I love the way you make people feel welcome when they come to our home’; ‘I appreciate what a hard worker you are’; ‘You’re so loving with the kids.’ So in addition to a laugh a day, give your spouse a compliment every day.” (Jeannette & Robert Lauer)
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 we often refer to? 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, Try to Enjoy 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. They wish they could go back and embrace each moment together rather than taking them for granted. Today is a gift —that is why it is called the present! Use it wisely!]
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 Marriage Message #25 Attitude Adjustment for help if you need to change your attitude.]
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)
[Here’s some great advice from Pastor Bill Hybels: “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.” “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)
[People run from hammers; so will your spouse.]
Last, but not least:
10. Let Love Be Your Guidepost.
“Love is patient and kind. It 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
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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