Finding a spouse and maintaining a good marriage may consume much of one’s thinking, effort, and time. Western culture has significantly skewed the whole process of love and marriage away from Scripture and its teachings about the topic. A simple internet search will reveal the dismal statistics of Christian couples living together and divorce rates as high or higher than those who are not Christian. What are we missing? Why is this so?
Relationships are not easy. Even a toddler or preschooler experiences that statement by many a tearful encounter. Much of the Old Testament Law, the Gospels, and the Church Epistles plainly explain how to be in relationship with one another. There are godly basic principles for shaping and maintaining a lifelong relationship. It appears that many Christians do not consider them to be important or worthwhile since there are so many divorces, even though the Scriptures provide ample information about characteristics of a godly relationship.
First and foremost, a godly intimate relationship starts with both parties being mature Christians. There has to be a common spiritual foundation and goals that both people are invested in. An example of relationship in the Word is described by oxen which are yoked together.
2 Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? KJV
A farmer does not put a smaller or weaker ox with a larger one or much stronger one. This causes physical problems for both of the animals and a lot of extra work for the farmer behind the plow trying to make straight furrows. We are not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Carnal Christians in many ways act in an unbelieving manner that may lead the couple off course.
Our topic here is about those we are closest to, such as our spouse. Being unequally yoked starts if a mate is chosen who has little or no interest in having a relationship with Yahweh. Without the common thread of believing in Yahweh and Jesus Christ and desiring to live a Christ-like life, there can be fundamental differences in morals, values, and ethics that crop up frequently to derail plans, major decisions, and everyday closeness.
Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.
As we long for Yahweh, we receive Yahweh’s grace and compassion upon us. It takes time and patience to find a spouse who has a heart’s desire to love Yahweh and has over time shown these behaviors. Time is a big key for seeing how a person lives out his/her faith in everyday situations.
Another important principle is that we need to have a healthy expectation of what is a godly marriage. Children see Cinderella, Snow White, and other fictional characters finding romance and going off into the sunset to live “happily ever after.” Our parents’ marriage and other close relatives’ marriages greatly impact our impression of what to expect. How a couple view individual roles and long-term goals clearly effect their satisfaction in marriage. If each spouse has a good foundation of love and respect for Yahweh and living in His presence, then many of the basic ideas of what the marriage will be like are the same. Taking time to find out what daily values and goals are of importance to each other, such as expectations about who works outside the home, who cooks, having children and how to parent, managing finances, sexuality, recreation, hobbies, and educational goals, assist in building trust and safety. Discussing these issues and more before marriage will help to lessen unnecessary perpetual problems.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
As stated before, the foundational principle of a solid marriage is to have a firm desire for Yahweh and love for the things of Yahweh and Jesus Christ. Disagreements will happen, but unconditional love and trust in Yahweh will help each to work together through the problems.
Ahhh. Love. Another very important principle to a lasting marriage. Love, trust, feeling safe, loyalty, and fidelity are all aspects of a godly loving marriage.
1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.
The spouse is most certainly one of the brethren. We are instructed to fervently (zealously) be in partnership with another for a cause or ideal, in this case marriage. This love comes from a heart filled with spiritually enabled love of Yahweh, not from worldly outside influences like beauty or money. After time, some marriages become stale in maintaining fervent love. Keeping Yahweh first and serving our Lord Jesus Christ preserve love.
When we feel love and safety in a marriage or relationship leading to marriage, it is easier to maintain a positive outlook toward life. Being around people who habitually find the good in life instead of the bad or who have an outlook that Yahweh will never leave us nor forsake us no matter what happens will, especially on a daily basis, build us up. It would be good to check that we ourselves are also trusting that life is good and that Yahweh provides and protects.
It is a good thing to assume your spouse is innocent before pronounced guilty. Having an understanding that your spouse is “in your corner” goes a long way to build trust and safety. We are to imitate in our marriage how our Heavenly Father is with us. He wants us to trust in Him.
Psalm 73:23-24 Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.
Romans 8:35-39 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any othercreated thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.
Next, we are encouraged by Scripture to communicate frequently with Yahweh by praising, loving, praying to Him, and at times being silent in His presence. Communication, being able to listen effectively to others and to be clear and concise about what we need to say, is a cornerstone to having an intimate relationship. Spouses are to pray together and ask one another for help when sin patterns, illness, or trouble comes along.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Taking the time to be patient and listen fully to the other person is not something we do naturally. It takes focused attention and a lot of selfless love to be good at listening objectively and empathizing with what the other person is thinking and feeling. Agreement on a topic or making a decision is much easier when both are sensitive to the other’s needs.
Not certainly the last of principles, but the last for this article, is to have an understanding that men and women just look at things differently most times. It is difficult but necessary to accept that your spouse is an individual that loves Yahweh and that he/she has certain quirks or ways of thinking that are different than yours.
When we trust that the other person is trying to do God’s will, we can be confident the spouse has our best interests at heart. We cannot change a person’s personality to what we think it “should be.” (An extrovert can calm down some, and an introvert can be more outgoing at times, but the basic way of being is well established.) Many times our spouse complements our weaknesses. When dating, do not ignore red flags of constant annoyances or moral and ethical value violations. Try to resolve them. If they do not get resolved, then consider this may not be a good match.
1 John 3:7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
- Have a common spiritual foundation
- Have healthy godly expectations of marriage
- Have a realistic, godly concept of love
- Have a positive outlook toward life
- Have good communication skills and patience
- Have the kindness to accept gender and personality differences
A godly marriage takes a lot of important work. It makes us better believers and helps us have entrance into the Kingdom of God and…it is very rewarding and fun!