Bible Rules for a Happy Marriage
Pastor Samuel E. Waldron
Truth For Eternity Ministries
Perfect weddings are often followed by very imperfect marriages. Whenever we attend a wedding we wish for the bride and groom a happy marriage as well as a wonderful wedding day. The Bible teaches that marriage will be a happy state if the happy bride and groom will religiously observe Four Bible Rules for a Happy Marriage, throughout their lives together. Let us look at those four rules.
(1) Exalt Christ.
It is no accident that immediately before speaking of the subject of marriage in Col. 3:18 and 19 the Apostle speaks of the importance of putting Christ first in everything. “Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col. 3:16, 17). If whatever we do in word or deed, we should do in the name of the Lord Jesus, then certainly the immensely important deed of being married and the enormously important words of the marriage vows must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.
In the first place this means, of course, that marriage cannot be hopefully entered without being joined to Christ. Only Christians can do anything in the name of Christ. Those who are joined to Christ obey Him. The Bible teaches in Hebrews 5:9 that Christ “became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
In the second place this means that, if Christians marry, they must do so in the name of Christ. This means that Christ must be put first in the marriage. Before time for his wife, the husband must make time for the Lord. Before time for the husband, the wife must make time for the Lord. Of course, time for each other is crucial, but one thing is more crucial, time for the Lord.
In the third place this means, husband and wife, that the better your walks with the Lord are, the better your marriage will be. Paul exhorts, “Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The more richly the Word of Christ dwells within you, the more richly will you dwell together. If you would have a happy marriage, exalt Christ—put Him first.
(2) Embrace your roles.
Colossians 3:18 and 19 says: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.” What is notable in our day about these simple commands of the Apostle is that they differentiate between the role and duty of the wife and the role and duty of the husband. We will not take time here either to bemoan the moral disaster which feminism has brought upon the home in our country, or bewail the tragic consequences for our nation of a masculine failure to love and lead in the home. Essential to instruction in biblical wisdom needed for a happy home is this biblical rule for a happy marriage.
If a husband is blessed with an intelligent, well-educated, and competent wife, it will be that husband’s greatest wisdom to encourage his wife to use those gifts to the fullest as His wife. A wife must remember, however, that those gifts are not to be used to advance her own independent career path, but to support and advance her husband and their home. Those gifts come from God. They are to be used for God and used in fulfillment of the role He has given to her as a wife.
If God gives a man a suitable helper in the Lord, that man should make it his highest goal to be the head to her he should be. As her leader and head, he must love her. All that he does must be consistent with her highest and best interests. He should never make an important decision without consulting her. He should always seek her best interests.
The opposite of such love is what the Bible here calls bitterness: “Love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.” It is difficult to think, on a glorious wedding day that a man would ever struggle with this evil thing called bitterness toward his dear bride, but if the Apostle warns of it, it is a danger.
Bitterness is angry resentment. In the Bible it is associated with a feeling of being provoked or rebellious and with cursing and poisonous words. In the Bible it is contrasted with the gentleness of wisdom (James 3:14), with peace and holiness (Heb. 12:15) and being kind and tender-hearted (Eph. 4:31). The Apostle implies by his warning that bitterness is a peculiar problem of husbands. Why? Husband, as a married man greatly increased demands are made upon you. Your freedom and independence are greatly diminished. Anger and bitterness may result.
The great solution to such bitterness is taking responsibility for what you have done and what will happen in your marriage. You are the head of your home by God’s appointment. Husbands often abdicate their headship in the home, allow their wives to do as they please, and then blame them for it. This is grossly unfair. You have no right to be passive, let your wife do as she pleases, and then be bitter about it. Remember, husbands, your wife’s needs and weaknesses and concerns. She is a delicate, beautiful, and fragile vessel. This will help you to be patient, gentle, tender-hearted, kind, and at peace when anger and bitterness begins to rise within you.
(3) Engage in biblical conflict resolution.
The whole subject of conflict resolution is suggested by verses 13-15 of Colossians 3. “…bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Sad as it is to think about on a wedding day, there will be conflicts between any husband and wife. A happy marriage absolutely requires the Christian resolution of conflicts between a husband and wife. Biblical conflict resolution, of course, requires in the first place the proper Christ-like spirit in the husband and wife. How clearly this is brought out in the verses just quoted! Love must be the all-surrounding atmosphere and the controlling motive for all biblical conflict resolution. It is love, a fervent desire to be at peace with and be close to the object of one’s love that constrains us to resolve conflicts with that loved one. How does love go about this? You have heard of the three R’s: reading, `riting, and `rithmetic. Luke 17:3 and 4 provide us with the four R’s of biblical conflict resolution: “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent’, forgive him.” Here are the four R’s: rebuke, repentance, remission, and repetition. Remember these four R’s and obey the admonition of the Apostle in Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
(4) Entertain no options.
The rules I have given here are assuredly not easy to follow. They require without question a great deal of patience, humility, and self-denial. That is the reason I must insist on this last rule. Never ever entertain any options in this work of achieving a happy marriage. Marriage is so much work that no one will keep at it if they think that they have any other options open to them. You need to know on the authority of God’s Word that no such options are available to you. Matthew 19:6 says, “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” God joins a man and woman together. Unless both are happy, neither will be happy. There must be an emotional bond to which both are committed. To every married couple I say, entertain no options to working with your spouse for a happy marriage. God does not give us the option of giving up because the work is hard.
Here then are the Bible’s rules for a happy marriage: (1) Exalt Christ. (2) Embrace your roles. (3) Engage in biblical conflict resolution. (4) Entertain no options.
Return to Truth for Eternity Home Page