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Top 6 Marriage Do's and Don'ts

Contributing Writer
Updated May 15, 2024
Top 6 Marriage Do's and Don'ts

Scripture gives many instructions that can help couples work toward such a marriage. Derived from the Bible’s teaching, here we will reveal the top six marriage “dos and don’ts.” From a biblical viewpoint, marriage, like any relationship, takes work and intentionality. A strong, healthy marriage will not develop overnight or happen passively. Both believers must remain committed to God and each other in faithfulness and love. Even then the relationship will not be perfect, for that cannot happen in a broken world of sin. However, it can be life-giving and joyful as two people work together to serve and encourage spiritual growth in one another.   

Marriage is beautiful and good, but it is also messy and complicated. We have all heard the story: A guy meets a girl, they fall in love, and the guy marries the girl. Lovingly embracing, they ride into the sunset in perfect marital bliss. Marriage is seen as the end goal, the last scene before the credits roll or the final page turns.  

This might work in stories or movies, but it is not true in life. If anything, marriage is a beginning, the start of a new season in which individuals learn what it means to love another person in the ups and downs of life, to place another person’s needs and wants above their own, and to remain faithful and steadfast even when it is hard.  

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Deesha Chandra

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1. Do Make Jesus the Center of Your Marriage, Don’t Embrace Ungodly Trends

In today’s world, information bombards us in the form of social media, news, and entertainment. If we are not careful, we can easily become influenced by the world around us. This is true of ideas about marriage and what a marriage relationship should be based upon. Movies and books sell us the common storyline that emotion is enough to keep two people together.  

Scripture teaches something different. Yes, emotion has a place in marriage, but this relationship is a covenantal relationship before God (Genesis 2:22-24; Mark 10:9). It also serves as a beautiful picture of Jesus’ love for the church (Ephesians 5:25, 32). Therefore, what sustains a marriage is when both the husband and wife are committed to the Lord Jesus.   

Christians need to make Christ the center of their marriage, not romanticized ideals they have seen or heard about in the media. The Bible is clear that keeping the Lord first is difficult since those who are married can struggle with divided interests (see 1 Corinthians 7:33-34). However, knowing this can help couples move in the direction of living “in undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35). A biblical, God-honoring marriage is focused on glorifying Him. When that is a couple’s focus, they will have a stronger marriage that endures even when emotions fluctuate.   

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Married couple fighting

2. Do Be Quick to Listen, Don’t Be Quick to Get Angry 

Communication is important in any relationship, including marriage. Through discussions, a husband and wife can convey their thoughts, feelings, and needs to the other. For marriage to work, both individuals need to be willing to speak and listen. 

In the realm of marriage communication, active listening holds a significant role. It's not just about hearing the words but truly understanding the message being conveyed. As the Bible advises, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19, NIV). By embracing this wisdom, couples can transform their conversations into more meaningful exchanges, fostering a deeper understanding and empathy.  

Another crucial aspect of effective marriage communication is the practice of self-control, particularly in managing anger. It's common for spouses to feel wronged or misunderstood during discussions, which can easily escalate into arguments. However, by exercising self-control and choosing to listen, couples can shift the focus from anger to understanding, thereby fostering a healthier and more respectful communication environment.  

Doing this takes discipline and wisdom, but it is worth it to develop and maintain healthy relationships (see Proverbs 16:32). Taking time to listen and avoid anger is also wise since the wise person seeks to control his or her tongue and maintain calmness (Proverbs 17:27). Individuals will find that by practicing this, their marriage and relationship with Christ will grow.  

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Timur Weber

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3. Do Use Your Words to Encourage, Don’t Use them to Harm or Manipulate 

Words are tricky things, aren’t they? People use them to confess love but also to berate. To compliment and encourage, but also to accuse and shame. The words that we use can bring either life and hope or death and discouragement.  

The tongue is untamable from a human perspective (James 3:8). With the Holy Spirit’s help, though, couples can harness the power of their words to uplift instead of wound. The first step is to recognize the weight of words and how they can affect others. Thoughtless words may seem innocent enough. Yet, the Bible says we will be held accountable for what we say (see Matthew 12:36-37). Our words matter.  

A husband and wife should practice self-reflection based on Scripture. How is he or she using words? Do they think about what they are saying or how they say it? Are they aware that certain remarks can be hurtful? 

Once people are aware of the impact of their words and how they are using them, they can seek the Lord’s help in making a change. The Bible tells Christians to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). This applies to couples just as much as to any other Christian. Believing husbands and wives should use their words to build each other up and spur one another on in hope and godliness.  

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Couple reconciling

4. Do Be Willing to Forgive, Don’t Hold Grudges

No human relationship is perfect. People will argue and disagree at times. As a result, either the husband or wife, or both, will experience feelings of resentment, bitterness, and hurt. Conflict is inevitable, so couples must be prepared to work through it.  

People will hang onto hurts and nurse old wounds. Gradually even the smallest “cut” from words and conflict can become bigger and produce bitterness. Before someone knows what has happened, he or she is harboring a grudge, and a grudge cannot exist where there is love. The person who genuinely loves from a biblical standpoint keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). The only remedy for such deep wounds is forgiveness.  

More than anyone else, a Christian should know the power of forgiveness. The Lord has forgiven us of our sins because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and in the resurrection. He died for us while we were still sinners – not when we were trying to reform or asking for forgiveness (Romans 5:8). As recipients of God’s gift of grace, we should be willing to forgive others just as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13).  

Married couples need to practice forgiveness because marriage naturally brings troubles and difficulties (see 1 Corinthians 7:28). Problems are inevitable in a fallen world and Christians will continue to struggle against sin in their lives. As much as a husband and wife might love and respect one another, they are still human with faults and sins. They must learn to extend grace to each other.  

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Emma Bauso

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5. Do Support Each Other, Don’t Be Selfish

Humans' natural tendency is to prioritize their interests. This is because of our sinful nature, which selfishly seeks to promote our desires and needs. This focus on self can affect all areas of life, including relationships.  

Believers are not bound by their sinful nature but have been reborn into a new life through their faith. This faith empowers them to resist the temptation of self-interest in their marriages and, instead, choose a path of love, service, and mutual submission.  

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encouraged Christians to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV). Acting with humility means following Jesus’ example of taking on the role of a servant (Philippians 2:5-8). God the Son became a man to save us from our sins. He has shown us what it looks like to put the interests of others before our own and to live with a servant’s heart.  

A husband and wife can follow their Lord’s example, putting his or her spouse first. In doing so, they are following Scripture’s admonition to submit to one another out of love and reverence for Jesus (see Ephesians 5:21). For example, a husband might take note that his wife is tired after spending a day visiting and caring for an elderly parent or disabled sibling. Wanting to serve her, he offers to cook dinner and wash the dishes, giving her time to rest. Or a wife knows that her husband finds encouragement in words of affirmation. She chooses to voice her appreciation of his work and actions. A marriage firmly grounded in Christ will involve both people serving and submitting to each other.  

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Couple Suspicious of Each Other

6. Do Focus on Being Faithful, Don’t Fall for Misleading Lies

Marriage is not a fleeting union, but a lifelong commitment. It is a binding, covenant relationship that individuals should not enter prematurely or casually. As Christians, we are called to honor marriage and keep the marriage bed pure (see Hebrews 13:4). Marital faithfulness is not just a choice, but a vital aspect of a God-honoring union.  

At times, husbands and wives encounter temptations. They may feel attracted to someone they meet or start becoming too emotionally close to another person at work or church. Husbands and wives must fight temptation by following the Bible’s command to flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). The Lord will provide a way out when they are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13).  

Memorizing verses, such as Matthew 19:5-6 and Hebrews 13:4, can also help couples remember the seriousness of their commitment to one another. God’s Word is powerful and can transform our thinking. The more we store God’s Word in our hearts and minds, the more we will have protective defenses in place against the lies of temptation and proactive reminders of what God says about marriage.  

While perfection may elude us, believers who earnestly strive to honor and glorify God in their marriage by obeying Scripture can experience a transformation in their relationships. Their marriages can become not just stronger, but healthier, filled with love, respect, and understanding.   

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Edmond Dantès

Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

Originally published Wednesday, 15 May 2024.