The Bible is the perfect guide for how we should live our lives, and no more so than in the arena of marriage. Here are 21 lessons we can learn from Scripture that show us how we can model our marriage relationships after God’s will for us.
#1 Marriage Is the Start of a New Family
Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
The phrase “leave and cleave” can be assigned many different meanings, but at its core it signifies a new family unit being created. Our marriage vows refer to an indelible separation from our past life and moving forward together as a new family. But even deeper than that, it speaks to unification between two individuals under the divinely inspired and approved plan for marriage.
#2 Marriages Should Never Be Broken Apart
Matthew 19:6 says, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus gives very few exceptions for the general rule that marriages should never be split up. From physical expression to emotional dependence, there are so many ways that marriage links two hearts together very tightly. Furthermore, marriage is a blessing from God that should not be tossed aside; mankind should not presume to pull apart what God has blessed to be together.
#3 God Must Be at the Center of All Marriages That Want to Succeed
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
When we build the foundation of our lives on something other than the Word of God, it will never last. He is to be our only guide and direction for living, and His protection will always be sufficient to keep us safe. We should always view our marriages through the lens of Scripture, and look to God for guidance and comfort as we go through life with our spouses.
#4 We Must Always Be on Guard Against Temptation
Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples the night before He was arrested and crucified, but the commandment applies to us today. The reaction of our hearts may be to focus on the things of God, but our thoughts and actions may fall back into sinful ways if we are not vigilant. We should always strive to proactively direct our attention back to God, and when we are tempted we should ask God for the strength to resist it and a path to escape it.
#5 Go to God When You Don’t Have All the Answer
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
No marriage is perfect, and no one will have the solution for every problem or argument. When couples do enter these seasons of conflict, they should approach God with confidence that He will give them the answers they seek. Calling out to God is always the best choice when our own knowledge and experience could lead us astray.
#6 Marriage Is a Reciprocal Relationship
Colossians 3:18-19 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”
The lordship of the husband is clearly preached in Scripture, but it is crucial to understand that lordship in the context of mutual submission. This means that we should never exercise undue power or domination over our spouses, but instead seek to build each other up. Numerous other passages expound on this point, but we should always remember to serve each other in our marriages.
#7 We Are Meant to Enjoy Our Marriages
Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that He has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.”
Marriage is given to us as a blessing from God, and so we should be grateful for His provision and enjoy it. This can bring us an additional measure of joy beyond our relationship to God because our marriage relationship should be the closest human relationship we have – and thus our greatest source of earthly joy.
#8 Spouses Should Not Withhold Themselves from One Another
1 Corinthians 7:3-4 says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
There may be reasons to hold back from intimacy with each other – Paul gives times of dedicated prayer as a specific example – but we should be open and loving with each other at all times. Extending the concept of mutual submission, we should also submit to a mutual giving of our entire selves to the other person.
#9 An Affair May Not Always Be Physical
Matthew 5:27-28 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Lust can cause major damage and hurt to marriages. Even if a spouse does not stray physically, they may be unfaithful with their minds or emotions. According to Jesus, this affair of the heart is equally as sinful, and God will not tolerate it in a marriage relationship.
#10 Do Not Take Your Eyes off God When You Are Together
1 Kings 11:4 says, “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”
The inherent danger for any couple that is not both believers is that the Christian may be led astray by the unbelieving spouse. The New Testament also warns against this, but provides opportunities for the believer to witness to their spouse and bring them to Christ. However, it is very important that both spouses focus on God throughout their marriage, or they are in danger of falling away from God.
#11 Love Endures Forever
1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
No one is perfect; we will all make mistakes or fall short of expectations. The key is to get back up again, take your spouse’s hand, and love them through it. When the two of you are united, with God as your strength and comfort, you can stand against anything and weather any storm that comes your way.
#12 Living for and Preaching the Word of God Is Paramount
Malachi 2:6 says, “True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.”
Worshipping together as a couple is vital to growing your individual faith walk, as well as the faith of your family. When you teach each other from God’s Word, it will inevitably spread to others. This also can help you keep a lifestyle that honors God outside of your church activities.
#13 Remember That God Is Clearing the Way for Your Marriage
Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the LORD Who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
God went before the nation of Israel to prepare the Promised Land for them. He went before the apostles to prepare their mission fields as they went. He will prepare your lives and your path for marriage if you remain faithful and unafraid in the face of adversity. When you remember that God is for you, you know that the hardest battle against sin has already been won.
#14 Value Your Spouse above All Else in This Life
Proverbs 31:10 says, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”
Proverbs 31 is often presented as a model for a Christian wife. The lesson here begins with valuing your spouse very highly and recognizing the treasure that they are. Both husband and wife should recognize this and give thanks to God for blessing them with a partner and helper through life. Regardless of what they do, be thankful for who they are.
#15 Maintain the Mind of Christ
Philippians 2:5 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”
This is good advice for anyone at any stage of faith, but especially important in a marriage. Jesus had the mind and heart of a servant, and never sought His own good but the good of those around Him in the will of the Father. We should approach our marriages with equal zeal for doing good for others.
#16 Keep Yourself Only for Your Spouse
Job 31:1 says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?”
Marriage is a covenant: a solemn promise to reserve yourself only for your spouse. That means that looking around for the next good thing is completely out of the question. If you are serious about committing yourself to a faithful marriage, you must shut out any temptation that may come.
#17 Embrace Your Spouse and Show Them the Best of Your Love
Song of Solomon 8:3 says, “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!”
Marriage is a cause for total happiness and bliss. Embrace your spouse, hold them close, and show them affection. This is healthy and loving, and is an expression of the happiness you feel in your heart. When you are in love, it can often be the easiest thing to show love to your spouse!
#18 Move Forward Together in Love and Peace
Ephesians 4:2-3 says, “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Humility, gentleness, and patience are three keys to any successful relationship. In a marriage, humility in not seeking your own way, gentleness in forgiving and bearing with your spouse, and patience when your own pride gets in the way will forge unbreakable bonds of love and peace in your marriage. These are important to a long-lasting relationship.
#19 Be Loving and Faithful in All Things
Proverbs 3:3 says, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
The Hebrews were instructed to post the Word of God at their doorways, their gates, and tradition even dictated that they keep small scrolls bound to their foreheads and their wrists. While we are not required to do the same today, it is crucial to keep the Word of God close so that your whole lives may be guided by its precepts and statutes.
#20 Do Not Let Anger Rule in Your Relationships
James 1:19-20 says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Anger can cause lots of problems in a marriage: heated arguments, hurt feelings, even separations if the anger is left unchecked. First, we should listen instead of speaking, which ensures that both sides are heard and no one is left shut out. Remember that anger is not the way to imitate Christ. We should instead open our hearts with love and forgiveness, even in the most heated moments.
#21 Love Is Selfless and Kind, Not Seeking to Get Its Own Way
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “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.”
This chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is read at many weddings, and it is an appropriate picture of how we should behave in a marriage relationship. We should be patient and kind with our spouses, and not be jealous of them or too boastful in our own accomplishments. We should be deferential and forgiving, showing love in all things and building that strong foundation on the things of God.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.