“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” Ephesians 4:26-27
Here are ten time tested Biblical essentials that can make all the difference for married couples:
1. Be truthful.
In Ephesians 4:25 we read that we must “put off falsehood and speak truthfully.” Healthy marriages are based on truthful communication. When couples are direct and say what they mean they lay a foundation for growth and intimacy. But when couples are devious and shade the truth they’ll find themselves on rocky ground. So speak the truth in love. For integrity and honesty are the glue that hold the marriage covenant together, whereas hypocrisy and phoniness lead to ruin.
2. Admit mistakes.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “The man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful” Living Bible. When a husband or a wife refuse to admit they are wrong they immediately reveal that they love themselves more than they love truth. No wonder Samuel Butler said that “there is no mistake so great as that of always being right.” So when you’re wrong admit the mistake. Say, “I’m sorry.” For success in marriage consists of saying sorry again and again. Ogden Nash says it well in this little poem; “To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup. Whenever you’re wrong, admit it. Whenever you’re right, shut up!”
3. Be quick to reconcile.
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” This thought is custom-made for husbands and wives. After all, it stands to reason that when two people spend countless hours in each others company there are going to be situations and circumstances that breed anger. When difficulties and disagreements arise be quick to reconcile. Delays in dealing with a problem are both sinful and dangerous. Agree with your partner never to go to bed angry. Resolve an issue before you go to sleep and this discipline will enable you to avoid stumbling over the molehills of unresolved conflict. In essence, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Ephesians 5:21.
4. Be generous.
Robert Quillen said, “The one word above all others that makes marriage successful is ‘ours’.” In other words, what’s hers is mine and what’s mine is hers. It shouldn’t be a case of; What’s his is mine and what’s mine is mine! For the spirit of generosity is at the core of love. So husbands, pay attention to Ephesians 5:33 and make sure each of you loves his wife as he loves himself.
5. Be positive and constructive.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” One of the great challenges in marriage is to use words that build, strengthen, and encourage one’s spouse. When unwholesome, spiteful, harmful, hateful and hurtful words are used they tear at the fabric of marriage and can even strip a marriage leaving it naked and exposed to ruin. So use words positively and constructively. Remember, a timely word will lessen stress and a loving word will heal and bless.
6. Be kind and compassionate.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” A marriage is strengthened when we give kindness and compassion without hesitation. Grace and mercy must be extended to one another. For the building blocks of marriage are small kindnesses, small considerations, small acts of tenderness, and small acts of piety that are habitually practiced as we interact through the day.
7. Be longsuffering.
Someone once described marriage as being something like a cold. In the first year of marriage when the wife gets a cold the husband says, “Sugar Dumpling – I’m worried about my baby girl. You must have a few days in the hospital to get rid of that cold. I don’t expect you to eat that terrible hospital food so I’m having your food sent up from your favourite restaurant.” In the second year of marriage the husband says, “Listen darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough, you be a good girl and go to bed. I’ll see that everything is looked after.” In the third year of marriage the husband says, “Come Sweetheart, maybe you had better lie down. I’ll bring you something to eat.” In the fourth year of marriage the husband says, “Look dear, after you feed the kids and get the dishes washed, you’d better hit the sack.” In the fifth year of marriage the husband says, “Get yourself a couple of aspirins!” In the sixth year of marriage the husband says, “If you would just gargle or something and stop sitting around barking!” In the seventh year of marriage the husband says, “For Pete’s sake, stop sneezing. Do you want to give me pneumonia?” Yes, let’s remember that we need to be longsuffering in marriage. For “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
8. Be prayerful.
Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” That’s good news for married couples. Christians don’t have to face marriage without resources. God has promised His people that when they’re in need they simply have to ask Him to supply their need and He will do just that. As believers we have an assurance from God that His limitless resources are at our disposal. Married couples have all the help they need in order to make their marriage work. That help is only a prayer away. So remember to turn to God in prayer and thereby build your marriage on His resources rather than your own strength.
9. Be balanced.
We need to work hard at keeping our priorities straight. We can’t place our love for our spouse before our love for our Saviour. We can’t place our love for our parents before our love for our marriage partner. And we can’t place our love for our children, work, or hobbies before our love for our spouse. But then success in marriage is more than finding the right person, it’s being a balanced person.
10. Build with Christ.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When all’s been said and done I firmly believe that the most important factor in establishing a strong and successful marriage is to place Christ at the centre. He must be the raison d’etre of the marriage. Christ must be primary. He must be the cornerstone. This is the picture given to us in Ephesians 5:22-25, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church . . . Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”