5 Biblical Habits Of a Healthy Marriage
If you’re married, you know that solid marriage advice can’t be summed up on a card, or a bumper sticker. No list on the internet is exhaustive, and no story that your mom or grandma can tell you about their first year of marriage will possibly replace having that experience yourself. However, there are probably a few things we can all agree on; like the fact that marriage is full of ups and downs. If you are anything like me, you are quick to notice when things are going downhill, (and even quicker to point out how it’s the other person’s fault). But what about when things are going well? It’s important to take note of the positive things, and remember what you both were doing to make it work. Which leads us to the first healthy habit:
1. You’re Both In This Together
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord… Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. Ephesians 5:22-25
This is so important. Yes, wives are to submit to their husbands, but continuing in Ephesians 5, we see that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This is no small task. Christ died for the church, so that she would be pure and blameless. In other words, husbands should be the kind of leaders who make it easy for their wives to follow, and wives should trust their husband’s judgement. It’s a two way street.
2. Give Each Other The Benefit Of The Doubt
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7
This is huge. When our selfish, prideful tendencies come bubbling up to the surface (and let’s face it, that’s always an uphill battle) it is imperative that we extend grace and understanding to our spouse. Giving each other the benefit of the doubt helps you to avoid stupid arguments, and assumes the best of your significant other. If you take time to slow down before reacting to a stressful situation, you’ll see that your spouse loves you, they chose to marry you, they want good things for you, and they are not purposefully trying to cause you harm. When you choose to believe those truths about your husband or wife, they in turn will believe the same of you, and you can continue to build love on a foundation of mutual respect.
3. Let Your Default Be Forgiveness
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Pride does indeed come before the fall, and it is never more evident than in the realm of forgiveness. Over and over we are told in the Bible that we are to confess our sins, and we shall be forgiven, (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9). Since we are promised such great forgiveness, we in turn are commanded to forgive, (Matthew 6:14, 2 Corinthians 2:10). Why is this so hard when it comes to our spouses? Maybe it’s because they know us to our core, so when they hurt us, it feels like rejection and brings up old insecurities. Or maybe we like the power of being right when they are wrong, and we lord it over them to punish them. Either way, we must put away these tendencies which belong to the old self, and put on an attitude of forgiveness and openness. Be the kind of person that your spouse confides in and confesses to. Which leads us to our next habit…
4. Communicate Clearly
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19
We live in a world that has become a lot smaller thanks to the internet, social media, cell phones, you name it. While these platforms and devices are wonderful, they tend to put an emphasis on quick response, instant communication, and making your opinion known. Yet this is the opposite of what we are instructed in James. Make sure you are taking time out of your day to have a real conversation with your significant other, and when you do get a chance to talk, try asking more questions than you’re answering. Let your husband or wife know that they are heard, and that they have a true friend in you.
5. Be Intentional
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
This goes hand in hand with clear communication, because both take serious thought and planning. Being intentional is more than just planning date nights, or time spent in front of the TV together, but real conversations spurred on by a genuine love and interest in who you are married to.
Don’t know where to start? I love to ask my husband what his dreams for the future are. Usually they start out small – sleep in on Saturday, save up for a new car, etc. But if I really listen, and ask the right questions, I get him to open up and we have great discussions on being a foster family one day in a huge house with lots of rooms for lots of children, and going on adventures like road tripping through every state in the continental US. The key is to let your spouse know that they are loved, and they have a partner no matter what life throws your way.