Marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman instituted by God. In our modern society, many marriages end in divorce which can leave spouses and children devastated. According to the Bible, God intended marriage to be a lifelong commitment between a husband and wife. So what is the key to making a marriage last? The Bible provides much wisdom and guidance to help couples build strong, fulfilling marriages that stand the test of time.
One important key is to choose your spouse carefully and prayerfully. The Bible advises believers to not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Marrying someone who shares your Christian faith provides a solid foundation for marriage. You are joining your life to someone who shares the same values, beliefs, and spiritual goals. When seeking a spouse, look for godly character and spiritual maturity over superficial traits like physical appearance or financial status. Proverbs 31 describes the “wife of noble character” as a woman of virtue who fears the Lord. The qualities to look for in a potential mate are integrity, wisdom, diligence, kindness, and faithfulness. Make faith the top priority.
Marriage requires a full commitment from both partners. Entering marriage halfheartedly or with selfish motives often leads to problems. The Bible calls a husband to love his wife unconditionally as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). This is a sacrificial, servant-hearted love that puts the spouse’s needs first. Wives are called to submit to and respect their husbands, not as domineering but as caring leaders who will be accountable to God (Ephesians 5:22-24). Both spouses belong to each other and should strive to fulfill one another emotionally, physically, and spiritually (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). God designed marital intimacy and pleasure to unite couples and strengthen their love. When both partners are all in, committed fully to each other and to God, it creates a healthy foundation for the marriage.
Keep God at the Center
No marriage will last without God at the center. A couple’s shared faith should be the bedrock of the marriage. Regular church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer together draw spouses closer to God and each other. Having a spiritually-connected marriage takes intentional effort. Couples need to carve out quality time to invest in the spiritual dimensions of their relationship. Praying together and doing devotionals or faith-based studies provide enriching shared experiences. Serving together in ministry is also a powerful way for couples to grow closer to God and each other. When God is the foundation of your marriage, it strengthens the bonds between spouses.
Cultivate Strong Communication
Ongoing, open communication makes marriages work. Many marital problems arise from poor communication and misunderstandings. Spouses need to be able to share feelings, resolve conflicts, and connect on a deep level. Speak the truth in love to one another (Ephesians 4:15). Listen without judging. Seek to understand your spouse’s perspective when disagreements occur. Be quick to forgive and let go of bitterness. God desires unity between husband and wife, which requires sacrificial love, patience, honesty, and forgiveness. Praying together regularly also fosters healthy communication. The right communication skills can help navigate any storm.
Be Willing to Get Counseling
Even the best marriages go through periods of difficulty and conflict. Seeking wise biblical counsel is essential when problems arise. Every couple faces challenges at some point with communication, intimacy, finances, parenting disagreements, or other issues. Working with a pastor, Christian therapist, or mature mentor couples provides an outside objective perspective. They can impart the tools, insights, and scriptural guidance for restoration and growth. Getting help quickly at the first signs of strain can prevent small cracks from becoming major rifts. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 15:22). Humbling yourself to get support safeguards your marriage.
Marriage experts agree a satisfying intimate life is vital for couples. Sexual intimacy was designed by God to unite man and woman in a mysterious way (Genesis 2:24). It solidifies their bond emotionally and spiritually. Intimacy also provides a release for sexual desires in the safety and loving commitment of marriage which prevents sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2). Couples should make physical intimacy a priority amidst life’s busyness. Set aside regular time alone to maintain closeness and attraction. Be open, honest, and adventurous to keep the passion alive in marriage (Song of Solomon). Though sex declines with age, it remains an important way of expressing love and staying connected.
Embrace Sacrificial Love
Making marriage work requires embracing the biblical model of sacrificial love. As discussed, Ephesians 5 calls for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church. This means tirelessly giving of yourself to promote your spouse’s wellbeing. Lay down your own interests to care for your spouse even when you don’t feel like it. Draw on God’s strength to show grace and forgive quickly. Be patient and kind when your spouse falls short. Offer reassuring words when they are struggling. The more each spouse focuses on giving rather than getting, the more fulfilled both will be.
Fight for Your Marriage
Every marriage hits rough patches, but God can heal and restore even the most broken marriages when couples turn to Him. The Bible is filled with stories of flawed marriages God redeemed, like Hosea and Gomer. No matter what issues you face, don’t give up. Keep seeking God together in prayer. Do whatever it takes to fight for your marriage with God’s help. Enlist other believers to pray and support you. Remember God’s amazing grace offers you a fresh start any time. Lean wholly on Him to renew your love and partnership.
Be Quick to Forgive
Since all humans are flawed sinners, forgiving your spouse is essential to lasting marriage. Forgiveness comes at a price – setting aside pride, admitting wrongdoing humbly, letting go of anger and the right to payback. But the rewards are priceless – freedom from bitterness, a clean slate, and restored intimacy. Jesus commands us to forgive others as God has forgiven us (Matthew 6:14-15). Marriage offers countless opportunities to demonstrate grace and mercy. Forgiveness may need to be extended again and again. Couples committed to obeying Christ must be quick to forgive.
Protect Your Marriage
Couples must be vigilant to protect their marriage from anything that could divide their loyalty or undermine their intimacy. Establish appropriate boundaries with members of the opposite sex to avoid emotional or physical affairs. Be very careful in counseling or befriending a person of the opposite sex. Do not share marital concerns or complaints about your spouse as that breeds intimacy. Commit to total transparency regarding finances, relationships, and how you spend your time to prevent deception. By proactively eliminating threats, couples can nurture mutual trust and preserve marital closeness.
Work Together as Partners
Forming a strong partnership is central to a lasting marriage. Genesis 2:18 says God created woman as a “helper suitable” for man, implying teamwork. Couples should see themselves on the same team – not competing with each other. Shared decision-making, dreams, and goals unify husbands and wives. Managing household duties, child-rearing, careers, finances, and ministry together establishes partnership. A couple with God at the helm steering their ship together can weather every storm. Offering support and understanding rather than judgment or criticism also fortifies the team spirit.
Keep Growing Together
Successful couples commit to continuous growth both individually and jointly to enrich their marriage. Read books, take courses, attend conferences on marriage enrichment, finance, parenting, communication skills, conflict resolution, and more. Listen to podcasts or sermons on marriage. Seek out mentors. Pray and study the Bible together to grow spiritually. Find ways to broaden each other’s horizons and gain new insights and skills. If both spouses are learning, improving, and working on themselves, they will avoid growing apart. Stagnation and disinterest can creep in without vigilant effort to keep learning and advancing together.
Never Consider Divorce an Option
Couples who view divorce as a possible option if the marriage deteriorates often have weaker bonds from that undermining mindset. The Bible only permits separation or divorce in the cases of sexual immorality or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse (Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:15). God states clearly He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Remarriages also encounter more struggles statistically. Entering marriage with an expectation of lifelong commitment unless your spouse is unfaithful or deserts you is key. Seek counseling before concluding divorce is your only recourse in the face of challenges.
Rely on God’s Strength
Human effort alone cannot sustain a lifetime marriage commitment. Couples need God at the center of their marriage filling them with supernatural love, grace, forgiveness, and perseverance. His Word renews minds and transforms hearts and relationships. Scripture gives guidance for every marital issue. His Spirit imparts wisdom and empowers couples to reflect Christ’s selfless love. Prayer invites God’s mighty intervention. No matter what your marriage faces, relying on the Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit like patience, joy, peace, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22-23) to help your marriage not just survive but thrive.
Marriage is God’s sacred gift to humanity, but it requires diligent work and reliance on Him. By applying the biblical principles and keys above, couples can build an intimate, lifelong partnership that glorifies God, blesses them and their children spiritually and emotionally, and reveals Christ’s love to others.