This post is primarily targeted toward married couples; however, I believe the Bible-based lessons are applicable for any sort of relationship!
I remember right before I got married, several people said to me, “Enjoy the honeymoon period!” Looking glowingly at my fiancé with stars in my eyes and roses in my cheeks, I would respond, “Who says the honeymoon period will ever end! We are just so in love!!!”
A few years later, we are still deeply in love—yet I must admit I am thankful for the older men and women who approached me early on, assuring me that they had weathered many storms together, and feelings would come and leave and come back again stronger. Telling me to always stay committed to my vows, regardless of changes in circumstance. The fact is that as time goes by, many stressors can enter into your lives such as financial difficulties, trouble with work, and even the precious gift of children as you both become busier and more tired than ever before! I have compiled a list of verses that have helped me stay encouraged and in the right mindset as I enjoy one of God’s great blessings; I pray the scriptures may be a help to you as well!
1. Appreciate one another.
Many relationships are founded on the old adage “opposites attract.” You find a person who possesses what you lack, and together you make a formidable pair! 1 Corinthians 12 alludes to these different gifts which God gives us, explaining, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit…the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (v, 4, 7). I would shower everyone I meet with kindness and love, while my husband has a knack for telling things how they are. Both qualities are necessary and important in different situations. However, as we try to communicate each day together in the same house, our divergent personalities can also cause frustrations and misunderstandings.
Philippians 2 gives us the solution in verses 4-8 (emphasis added):
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
If I am in the right mindset, I am valuing the qualities in my husband which give me a sense of security and protection. I am thankful for all he has done for me thus far, and aware of the challenges that may be weighing down his heart. If Jesus could come down from heaven for me and suffer mistreatment that he didn’t deserve, I can certainly afford to give a little grace to the one I love.
2. Keep your focus on God.
Jesus didn’t simply provide an example of unconditional love for us. He required it: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
The fact is that, even if we feel as if we are being treated unfairly, if we are showing goodness to others, we will reap the benefits. Consider 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (emphasis added):
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” People and situations may change, but that doesn’t mean that we will stay in a difficult “season” forever with the one we love. If we remain steadfast, unmovable, and committed to the work of the Lord, we will reap the benefits of a greater faith in God’s deliverance, and a healthier relationship in time.
3. Let go of your own anger, pride, and hurt.
Not only do we have a closer kinship with Jesus Christ when we exercise mercy, but it is also simply good for us. Who wouldn’t want to have a more joyful and peace-filled life amidst factors he or she cannot control?
Proverbs 19:11 instructs us that “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” We have the choice to let go of offenses against us. We have the choice to show grace and love instead of harboring hatred that will only hurt us—and all who come into contact with us—continually.
Ephesians 4:26-27 puts it even more bluntly: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” It is impossible for us as humans to never become angry. However, we can mitigate the actions we take afterwards by stepping away from the situation, biting our tongue, and attempting to talk it out and make amends as soon as possible, one on one, according to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18:15. Treating disagreements with a healthy dose of honesty and compassion can remind couples that they are supports and blessings for one another, and not enemies.
I am guilty of becoming extremely defensive when heated words are exchanged, thinking “How could you say that to me?!” But when I turn the magnifying glass on myself, I often find I am part of the problem. Proverbs 25:23 explains that “the north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” If someone I am fighting with is using sarcasm and insults, was I approaching them with the correct motives and manners? Was I showing respect as I brought forward my complaint? Or was the other person simply reacting to my aggressive attack? How would I respond if I was faced with a similar situation? It is forgivable (and inevitable) to lose one’s cool at times, but it is easier to forgive when the offending party is able to swallow their pride and take ownership of their part of the problem.
Speaking of which, Proverbs 13:10 says, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” When I have a disagreement with someone, am I acting the part of someone who is “well-advised?” Or someone whose ego has been hurt? It takes two to fight, and one to initiate reconciliation.
I like how King Solomon further articulated this concept in Proverbs 28:25 “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.” If we truly trust in the Lord as we profess to do, we will trust that he knows right from wrong, truth from lies, and the innermost desires of our heart. We know that he is with us, will bless us, and redeem all that is lost. If we trust in the Lord, it should not be so very important to us to have a perfect partner here on Earth (if such a thing existed!). In the very next verse (just in case we didn’t get his first hint!) Solomon reiterates: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” It is so much better to trust in God’s promises and in His word then the feelings of an evening! Our heart can lead us astray, but our wise and loving Father never will.
As you strive to grow closer with the ones who mean the most to you, what lessons or verses can you hold tight to?