Mark and I celebrated 39 years of marriage on June 25! Most of these 39 years have been fabulous. Some have been heart-wrenching. But we cherish each and every one of them, good or bad. Every year that we celebrate our anniversary is a testament to God working inside of us. There’s no way we’d have made it this far if we hadn’t learned to lean on God and trust in His word.
God’s word anchored us as we weathered the aftermath of Mark’s infidelity. It has guided us throughout our son’s struggle with mental illness. It has given us hope for the future during my battle with breast cancer. There’s no doubt that our marriage is still standing today because Mark and I stood on the truths in the Bible. So when times get tough in your marriage — when fights break out, sickness comes, or trust is broken — it’s important to lean on God and let His word guide you.
Here are just a few truths the Bible tells us about marriage to help you on your journey.
Marriage is Good (Even When it Feels Bad)
Marriage won’t always feel good. In fact, there may be times when your marriage feels more like a trap than a blessing. You and your spouse will have differences of opinion. You’ll argue.
You’ll disappoint each other. And some days the love of your life may seem more like a ball and chain than a gift from God. But “the old ball and chain” isn’t how God wants you to think about your spouse.
God gave you your spouse to help you face the ups and downs of this life. Your spouse is your teammate. From the beginning, God wanted us to have a partner, a helping hand, someone to lean on. That’s why He created Eve for Adam.
God never intended for us to do life alone. And having someone by your side on life’s journey is a very good thing, even when your differences collide. So the next time you’re tempted to think saying, “I do,” was a bad idea, remember these Bible verses about marriage:
Genesis 2:18 It is not good for the man to be alone.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 Two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all.
Marriage is Meant for a Lifetime
When we stood at the altar on that hot summer day so many years ago, we promised to love, honor, and cherish each other till death do us part. We had stars in our eyes and love in our hearts. But the two kids who made those vows had no idea how hard it would be to keep them.
While we’ve made many happy memories during our marriage, we’ve also made a lot of mistakes. And in 2011, Mark was convinced that divorce was what needed to happen.
Deep down, even when we separated, we knew God’s perfect plan was for our marriage to last a lifetime. Believing that helped me fight for our marriage when it seemed impossible to salvage. Matthew 19:26 tells us that some things are impossible for man, but all things are possible with God.
So, after Mark left the other relationship and recommitted to our marriage, we sought help from a Christian marriage counselor and began putting in the work to fix the dysfunction in our marriage.
Now, as we look back, we can see how God used our struggle to help us grow individually and as a couple. We can say with certainty that our marriage was worth the years of hard work, tears, and frustration that it took to save it. Yours is too. Reach out to us if you would like marriage coaching (we’ve been where you are), and keep these scriptures about marriage in your heart:
1 Corinthians 7:3-4 [This] command comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband . . . and the husband must not leave his wife.
Matthew 19:6 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
Proverbs 5:18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Malachi 2:16 “I hate divorce!” says the Lord. (Note: He says this because of the pain it causes. He doesn’t hate divorced people, he just hates the hurt that divorce causes.)
Becoming One Takes Effort
The Bible says that two become one when they’re married. You’ll share your finances, your home, your bed, your entire lives. To do this successfully, you’ll have to shift from a “me” mindset to a “we” mindset. That doesn’t mean you have to lose your individuality, but it does mean that you have to put away selfishness.
What does that look like in practice? It looks like being a team player and taking each other’s feelings into account in everything you do.
Here are a few examples:
- Defer to one another in small decisions.
- Consider your spouse’s needs. For instance, if you like coming home and zoning out, but your spouse needs to connect with you after work, don’t ignore them. Take 30 minutes to talk when you first get home. You can zone out afterward.
- Share responsibilities. From chores to finances, you should be working together to keep everything done. In the famous words of John C. Maxwell, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”
Here’s what the Bible says about two becoming one:
Genesis 2:22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
Genesis 2:21 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Matthew 19:4-6 A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one.
Ephesians 5:28 He who loves his wife loves himself.
Sex in Marriage is Good
Becoming one in marriage includes sharing God’s gift of sexual intimacy. God created sex, not only for reproduction, but also for recreation and deep connection. Sex is a way for husbands and wives to express their emotional love on a physical and spiritual level. But between working, doing chores, and raising children, sexual desires can get drowned out.
If you’re feeling like sex is more of a chore than a treat, you aren’t the only person to feel that way (man or woman!). Many couples, especially ones with young children, find that exhaustion becomes a barrier to physical intimacy. If you notice a decline in your desire, or your spouse’s, start a conversation and become intentional in prioritizing sex.
You may want to schedule a nap during the day to have more energy at night. Maybe you need to start having “lunch dates” in the middle of the day. Or you may want to start scheduling sex on the calendar (this really helped me and Mark as we raised 5 children!).
You might also find our Is There Really Sex After Kids? book helpful. Do whatever you need to do. And when you’re having trouble finding your passion, use these scriptures to motivate you:
1 Corinthians 7:3 The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.
1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive one another . . . so that Satan will not tempt you.
Song of Solomon 1:13 My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts.
Song of Solomon 4:10 How delightful is your love, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine.
Song of Solomon 4:11 Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, my bride; milk and honey are under your tongue.
Stay True to Your Spouse
Mark and I have recovered from infidelity, but it’s not an easy road. There’s a reason the Bible warns against adultery in every book from Genesis to Revelation. Infidelity hurts everyone: the spouses, the affair partner, the children, even close friends and family.
And once trust is broken, it’s hard to rebuild. It took two years after Mark’s affair for us to reestablish the trust that was lost. We look back now and are so grateful for how far God has brought us! But if we had the chance to do it over, we would leave infidelity out of our story.
Mark can tell you firsthand that any rationale for having an affair is a lie. Don’t allow those lies to get into your heart. Guard your heart against adultery with these Bible verses:
Exodus 20:14 You shall not commit adultery.
Proverbs 3:3-4 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Proverbs 6:32 He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.
Hebrews 13:4 Let the marriage bed be undefiled.
Love, Honor, and Respect Each Other
Love is more than that warm fuzzy feeling you get inside. Love is an action word. Love is taking the time to understand what your spouse needs to feel valued and appreciated, then making a point to do those things. One resource that has helped us understand how best to love each other is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
Mark’s love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch. Mine are acts of service and quality time. Understanding how we can best fill each other’s love buckets has helped us give and receive love better.
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Ephesians 5:33 Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Be Gracious to Each Other
No one’s perfect. God doesn’t expect perfection from us, so why would we expect it from our spouse? Yet Mark and I have noticed what we call the “perfection infection” creep into many marriages. It’s part of what nearly destroyed ours. The perfection infection is when we allow unrealistic expectations of our spouse into our hearts.
When our spouse doesn’t live up to these lofty ideals we become disappointed. Then that disappointment breeds discontentment and sucks the joy out of marriage.
To keep joy in your marriage and kick the perfection infection out, you’ll need to rethink the expectations you’re placing on your spouse. Learn to offer grace when they disappoint you. Grace is defined as courteous goodwill. To wield it well, you’ll have to practice humility, patience, gentleness — and especially forgiveness — every single day.
Ephesians 4:2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Ephesians 4:2 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Luke 6:36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Put God First
The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love God with your whole being. When you love God and put Him first, you’ll be able to build your marriage on a solid foundation. One that will help you weather any storms that life may bring.
Mark and I haven’t been perfect, but we’ve always strived to put Christ first in our personal lives and in our marriage. We’ve been even more intentional about that the past 10 years, and we have experienced so much life and peace in our relationship.
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.
Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.
Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Marriage is a journey that requires courage, faith, and perseverance, but the rewards are worth the labor. Remember to use the scriptures about marriage listed above to keep you anchored when times get tough.
In a recent No More Perfect Podcast episode, I walked through the practical steps of using God’s word to love someone who’s hard to love. Sometimes this might be your spouse and sometimes it might be someone else in your life. Listen to that episode here.
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