I am very thankful for my wife, Kim. We have had 43 wonderful years together as a married couple. In our Biblical counseling program here at Hope Biblical Counseling Center we counsel many people about their marriage. A good marriage is not just something that happens it is worked at. The past couple of weeks I have been thinking about how many people we counsel for marital issues. The need is very great. The lack of Spirit controlled behavior is a very serious issue for today’s marriages. I was thinking if I had ten things to say to a married couple, what would it be?
Below are some helpful thoughts on how to work at and build a godly marriage.

1.  Make sure you understand your choice in a mate for marriage is a spiritual choice not an emotional choice. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, therefore, it is a very important decision. The description of a godly marriage takes place in Ephesians 5:17-33. It describes two saved, Spirit controlled people.  Nothing else works.

Ephesians 5:17-33, Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  (18)  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19)  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (20)  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  (21)  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  (22)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  (23)  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  (24)  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  (25)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  (28)  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  (29)  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  (30)  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  (31)  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  (32)  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  (33)  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

2.Make sure you develop an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. Your daily fellowship with God will be of utmost importance. Pursue it at all costs! Husbands work with your wife on this. If you do not understand what it means to have a real relationship with God please click on this link.  http://mismallbusinessweb.com/LoveOfTheFamily/2016/05/how-to-have-a-real-relationship-with-god-the-work-of-the-holy-spirit-in-a-persons-life/.  Outside of your salvation this will be the most important part of building a godly marriage and life!

3. Make sure you learn how to communicate properly. Communication is the main problem or the starter of a problem in about 99 percent of marriages.  In essence, Christians do not talk to one another, and they certainly don’t talk about spiritual things in their lives.  They rarely talk about anything. Young lovers rarely have a communication problem.  They seem to be able to talk about anything.  Somehow that ability often vanishes after they are married.  Lack of communication is almost always a problem for couples who come for marriage counseling.  If it is not lack of communication, it is the wrong communication.  Ephesians 4:29 and 31, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  Let ALLbitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice”.   Folks this is a powerful portion of scripture, did you notice “evil speaking”.  It says to, “Put away all evil speaking”. Most evil speaking comes from other things in this verse.  Things like bitterness, wrath, and anger.  By the way it says to put away all these too!  Communication under pressure of anger and shouting is not the approach.  However, that is the approach most professing Christians use in direct disobedience to God’s Word.  One of the reasons that many children who grow up in Christian homes today do not end up living for God is because of the anger of their parents. Problems and differences in a marriage are not dangerous, not being able to communicate the differences, or problem areas is dangerous.  Let’s talk about how we should communicate.   Ephesians 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ”.  The Bible teaches that we should “speak the truth in love”.   One thing to bear in mind, is that the more truth you speak, the more love you should use in conveying that truth.  Truth is a sharp two edged sword, so we use it carefully.

4.  Make sure you are not acting like a child. Adults are led by Biblical principles not feelings. Children are motivated by feelings. That is their primary rule of law. That being said, a person has never really entered adulthood if they have not learned to follow Biblical principles in spite of where their feelings are leading them.  A Christian must learn what it means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit at the point of impact. 

Unfortunately, a good number of our married couples are little people in big people’s bodies. Though they have secured a decent education and established a nice career, they stopped growing emotionally a long time ago or never learned how to grow emotionally to begin with. When they feel angry, they act angry. If they feel like pouting, negative behavior ensues. They say whatever comes to their mind and show their spiritual and emotional immaturity. This is nothing less than childish behavior, and, sad to say, it is what keeps me busy as a pastor and marriage counselor.

I have found that until someone learns to say “yes” to Biblical principles and “no” to their childish emotions, they will never learn how to properly deal with their marital issues. They will be up one day and down the next, and they will take their marriage on a perpetual roller coaster ride.

Our goal for every counselee is spiritual and emotional maturity by learning how to apply Biblical principles to their life and to stop, think, and turnover thoughts over to the Lord at the point of spiritual impact in their life. This is the point where Satan puts outside pressure on your life to try to get you to react like a child with childish behavior.   Satan seeks to control the Christians life by placing outside pressure on them to control their soul which is the seat of their mind, emotions, and will.  He will then control their decision making.  They will react in their emotion led life rather than to submit themselves to God and make Jesus Christ real in their life at the point of impact.

James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

This is our goal to teach as a counselor.  They are in our office because they are immature emotionally and spiritually.  Their childish behavior has put them there.

5.  Make sure you use the two golden phrases that every married couple should communicate repeatedly throughout their marriage:  1. I am sorry!  2.  I love you!  Learn to be able to say this and you will go a long way toward having a good marriage.  Say to your partner, I love you and say it meaningfully and often.  Make sure you are controlled by the Holy Spirit daily.  Every day ask the Lord if there is anything that stands between you and Him.  When He shows you what it is, ask for forgiveness for that sin and turn from it, I John 1:9.  Then make sure to ask the Holy Spirit to fill you that day.  Also, ask the Holy Spirit to help you love your partner and to communicate in the proper way each day.  Make it an important part of your prayer life.  Ask the Lord to help you in the same manner with your children.  After all, you want their heart, Proverbs 23:26.  If you have an angry spirit, it must be turned over to God daily.

Kim and I have practiced something down through the years of our marriage.  Every Sunday night after church we take a drive together.  We talk about the services of the day, our relationship, our relationships with others, and our relationship with God. I ask her what she thinks and she asks me what I think.  I also ask her what she thought about the messages that were preached that day, whether I preached or someone else preached.  While our girls were home I would take them for a drive individually after church on Sunday afternoon and talk.  Remember, these talks are not just about mundane things, but we talk about what we are learning from God’s Word and the desire’s he has put upon our heart.  I also took this time to explain to them how important it was to have an intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God.  If you are too busy to communicate, you are too busy.  However, it is easy to get so busy we do not communicate and years go by.  You only have your children in your home for 18 years; you need to redeem the time.  Also, you have to commit yourself to communicating.  Make time for it.  Those rides in the car become special times and my daughters every now and then talk about their rides with dad.  Remember your wife or husband will be there long after those 18 years are over.  The sadness is sometimes after the children are gone, a couple finds out the years have gone by and they really do not know each other because they have not communicated. If you do not talk with each other and have a Spirit filled life, you will have a disaster in your marriage, ministry, and a disaster with your children.

Another tool that is very effective that I have used with couples who say, “I do not love her or him anymore.”  I have often encouraged men and women in a troubled marriage to ask themselves the question, “If I felt love for my spouse today, what would I do for them?” Then, I advise them to go and do according to their answer. To be honest, it is a very powerful step for spouses to take, and there is a sense where it must be done in faith that their feelings will eventually agree with not only their actions, but Biblical precepts.

I Corinthians 13:4-5,  Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Did you notice “love is kind?”  Most people respond when I ask the above question say, “I would be more kind.”  Next question how specifically would you do that?  When they give you the answer encourage them to do it as an assignment.  Make you tell each other that you are thankful for each other love each other consistently and often.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

 6.  Make sure you know how to control your thought life.

Philippians 4:4-9, Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation (self-control) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand (in your life). (6) Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

I want you to notice in verse 6 the phrase “prayer and supplication.” Supplication means to ask for something humbly (submitted). Then I want you to notice in verse 6 thanksgiving. Then notice in verse 8 praise. So, at the point of impact rather than be anxious Lord I want to turn this over to you, I ask you to forgive me, I want to submit this to you and to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Since most problems begin in the mind, Lord what do you want me to praise you for and thank you for? Then verse eight comes to play proper Spirit controlled thinking rather than let your mind worry, fret and think on the wrong things. It must become a daily moment by moment part of your life to be a Spirit controlled person. Hebrews 13:15, By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. In the Bible, the heart and the mind are used interchangeably.

There is a very important principle in II Corinthians 10:5, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

In the Bible, the heart and the mind are used interchangeably. There is a very important principle in II Corinthians 10:5, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. See the word imaginations? It means fantasies. Every person who is rebellion in their life is because they are living in a fantasy world. A place where they allow their minds to run off and fantasize about living in another time, another place, with another woman, another man, being immoral with a boy or girl, man or woman, sports, activities etc.. Many people spend hours in their virtual reality world where they think no one else sees. Let me clue you in God sees!

II Corinthians 10:4, (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;

Notice the phrase, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”

We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Therefore, our weaponry is not carnal (fleshly). However, it is in fact powerful through God for the pulling down of strongholds. (Interesting word). Strongholds where? In the mind. The word strongholds figuratively means heavily fortified containment and is used of a false argument in which a person seeks (a safe place) to escape reality. Ephesians 6:13-18 describes some of the spiritual weaponry God has given for us. When a person is in rebellion to each other and their Biblical authorities, it never fails that they have not controlled their thought life or they do not know how to do so.  This is a huge problem for marriages today.

7.  Make sure in your marriage to get your partner’s heart and keep it. You must pray for this daily and work at it. Part of getting their heart is to ask questions.  You must make time to communicate.  You must draw out what is in the heart.  Remember that if you lose your partner’s heart, find out where you lost it and make every effort to get it back as soon as possible.  Your partner’s heart can be lost, hardened, and stolen. These are the three steps every person takes to rebellion. These steps are taken because the partner loses the heart of the wife or husband.

8. Make sure you put God first in your life and giving. Make sure that as a couple that you understand that all money is God’s money, not just 10 percent.  Make sure that your commitment to God is to learn to give properly and practice it

9.  Make sure your local church is important to you and your family. Make sure you are attending a good sound Bible preaching and teaching church.  Make sure the emphasis of the church is upon growing spiritually, winning the lost, and not activity orientation. Do not look for a church because of activities it has for children. Look for a church that has emphasis on teaching spiritual truth to you and your family.  Look for a church that has the ministry of the Word of God as their primary emphasis.  Look for a church that encourages godliness and holy living.  Look for a church that does not have emphasis on ungodly music (music that appeals to the flesh rather than the spirit) such as contemporary Christian music, southern gospel music, and an overall emphasis on music instead of God’s Word.  Many churches worship youth groups and music rather than God.  (By the way, that is idolatry).  Look for a church that has an emphasis on hymn music.Be faithful and find something you can do to serve God and do your service faithfully. Make sure your family hears you tell others how much your local church means to means to you.  Make sure they understand the importance of faithful church attendance, I Corinthians 4:2, Hebrews 10:25.

10. Make sure you share your personal testimony of salvation with your family. Tell them how you got saved.  Pray earnestly for others to be saved and make sure you and your partner understand sharing the gospel with others is important. Encourage an evangelistic outreach with each other and in your home and pray for it. Go with each other on visitation and take your children with you. One of the best ways for married couple to learn compassion for lost people is to go on visitation and talk about having compassion for the lost while you are out talking with people. Pray for compassion for the lost.  Make sure you and your partner know how to give a clear presentation of the gospel to an unsaved person. Teach your children how to give that presentation.

Some items in this article come from How to Be Happy Though Married and Hitting Home.