Marriage is God’s plan and He created it for companionship and procreation; it is the closest of human relationships, resulting in a man and woman being united in a lifelong fusion. In Genesis 2:24 God defines marriage in the following way: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”Throughout the Bible, God uses the picture of marriage to help us understand Him, how He loves us and what He has done for us. This narrative begins initially with Adam and Eve, then with his people Israel, and then ultimately in the invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb, where the Church is pictured as the bride of Christ.
It is not surprising that this relationship, designed to reflect holiness, has been corrupted by sin, and we reach a point where we need to seek marriage advice. Any two people who have been married for more than a few months can testify to the reality of sin in marriage, and it can be difficult to navigate a way through to a healthier, more godly way of relating to one another.
Perhaps you are considering counseling, or maybe you are about to embark on your marriage journey – either way, it is important to realize that God does not leave us without instructions on how to prioritize and improve this one-flesh relationship. Here are five Bible verses to turn to for marriage advice:
Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. – Proverbs 13:10
This verse can be a hard pill to swallow, but if we are experiencing strife in our marriage, we need to first look inwards and confess the pride in our hearts. When two sinners come together, it is very rarely the case that one person is fully to blame for contention, while the other is completely blameless.The second half of the verse is also a powerful piece of marriage advice, as so often our pride can prevent us from seeking counsel when there are issues in marriage. Marital strife can feel confusing, but it is liberating to realize that most couples go through tough times, and external counsel can shed perspective and give valuable insight to get through these times together.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:13-14
The word “forgive” appears three times in this verse. God is telling us that it is only through forgiveness that we can experience authentic relationships and experience a deeper bond. The starting point, of course, is the realization that God has forgiven us much; and so, as an outpouring of gratitude for this forgiveness, we need to extend the same grace to others.
Our spouse often bears the brunt of our moods, insecurities, and negative emotions, and so we are often glad to be on the receiving end of their forgiveness. When we need to forgive, we must humble ourselves, remembering our own deficiencies.
A good phrase to incorporate into marriage advice is the idea of “putting on” love – it will not come naturally. Just as we would put on a jacket, so we are instructed to consciously decide to act in love, knowing that we are obeying God and that it will bind the marriage together in perfect unity.
This verse from Isaiah can be an encouraging verse to cling to as you go through a difficult season in marriage. In the same way marriage can bring immense joy and fulfillment, it can also create incredible pain and a sense of isolation when there is discord.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. – Isaiah 43:2
Remembering that God is always with you, that he is fighting for your marriage and will not let it be destroyed if you actively pursue peace, can be a real encouragement. God never gives up on us, no matter how unlovable we feel, and we need to view marriage in the same light, strengthened by the conviction that He is powerfully able to resurrect even the most broken of marriages.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church. – Ephesians 5:22; 25a
The Bible gives the overarching formula for success in the verse from Ephesians above. While the idea of submission is unpopular in today’s secular culture, all women fall under the same curse that God gave to Eve; that of wanting to dominate one’s husband.
This marriage advice recognizes that a wife will be tempted to take authority from her husband and that he will be tempted to abdicate his position of leadership to her strong will. The result is never a balanced, healthy partnership, and wives who strive to understand what Biblical submission looks like and put it into practice will reap the fruits of this obedience.
In the same way, husbands are told especially to love their wives, since this is something which they struggle to naturally demonstrate. A husband needs to make every effort to demonstrate love for his wife and this will result in a happier marriage.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. – Ephesians 4:26
This extremely practical marriage advice of not going to bed while still angry with your spouse is immensely helpful for preventing arguments that last into the early hours, or resentment that recurs the day following a heated discussion. It should be a solemn agreement between spouses not to discuss any contentious issue after a certain time in the evening.
It requires self-control to keep this safeguard in place when you are feeling angry, which is easier if you are both aware of it and believe in its importance. The first part of the verse – to be angry and yet refrain from sinning – could prevent marriage problems in the first place if only we were able to get this delicate balance right.
Marriage is an ongoing, tangible picture of what it costs to love an imperfect person unconditionally – just as Christ has loved us. The goal is not about living in perfect married bliss (although this would be the ideal!) but rather about persevering and learning together as you strive for godliness.
God uses marriage to sanctify us and smooth over the rough edges in our character – a painful process at times. We need to keep coming back to the foot of the cross, and praying for ourselves, our spouse, and our marriage. God can redeem any marriage, but we need to remember that our marriages are spiritual battlegrounds and that the Devil is prowling around seeking our destruction.
We need to take up every element of God’s protective armor so that we can take a stand against this. While six elements of this arsenal are defensive weapons, the sword, the Word of God, is a deadly offensive weapon. With God’s Word, we are truly able to fight and defeat all enemies and claim victory over our marriages.
“Wedding Bands”, Courtesy of Pexels, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Couple in the Field”, Courtesy of OlcayErtem, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Laughing Couple”, Courtesy of Soliejordan, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Seasoned Couple”, Courtesy of StockSnap, Pixabay.com, CC0 License