How to BE Happily Married, Part 2
This is a continuation of a series. To read the first in this series, see How To BE Happily Married Part 1.
Happily married? Your marriage may be the greatest joy of your life or, maybe, you’ve just experienced the first real threat to a “happy marriage.” Or perhaps, the dream of being happily married may be a distant memory for you.
The Bible gives directions for the kind of people we all need to be. Applying those principles (with some poetic license) to our marriages keeps us on track or fills in the missing pieces in a less-than-happy marriage. Stated succinctly, our marriages would be a lot better off if we extended basic human decency to our spouses.
Be ye wise as serpents, harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). Marriages need wisdom and prudence. Once we have the “wise” plan in our mind, we must advance without harm, blamelessly. We can become so convinced of our own wisdom that we are driven by ulterior motives to carry out our plans. Manipulation damages marriage. Doves don’t manipulate. Embrace the wisdom, but avoid conniving.
Be ye steadfast and unmovable (I Corinthians 15:5). In marriage vocabulary, we call this commitment. Those vows we said in the presence of God and witnesses have meaning. They tie us to our spouse through indescribable injustices or through boundless blessings. We’re not going anywhere. We’re joined in matrimony.
Be ye humble (I Peter 3:8). Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice (Proverbs 13:10). Having the humility to heed advice from a spouse heads off conflict. “I told you so.” “I could have told you…” “You told me…” Marriages thrive when we can set aside our prideful agenda and humbly accept the wise way (even when – and especially when – it wasn’t our idea).
Be ye patient (James 5:7,8). She wants a baby. He doesn’t. He wants the mortgage paid. She wants comforts now. She has been enlightened on a biblical truth. He still sees things the old way. Living things seldom grow at the same rate. We grow in spurts. We all grow up eventually. Along the journey, we need to be patient with the one shooting forward and be patient with the one still coming along.
Be ye alert and of a sober mind (I Peter 4:7). “Sober mind” has become archaic. We would be more likely to say disciplined or self-controlled. Couples encounter a wide-variety of challenges when we fail to exercise discipline. We get into excessive consumer debt. We get caught up in worry and addiction. We reflect on our actions with the words, “I must have temporarily lost my mind.” Those mental breakdowns temporarily can rob happiness from a marriage.
Be ye angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). When conflict arises, avoid sin. Sins to avoid would be pride—fighting for control; wrath; provoking others. There will be things in life and in marriage that will anger you. Allow the anger to work for good without sin. Be angry, but don’t yell. Be angry, but don’t say something that you’ll regret later. Be angry, but don’t strike a low blow. Remember that, in spite of your anger, you took a vow to “honor” your spouse.
Be ye merciful (Luke 6:36). We all err on a grand scale: bounced six checks, forgot to pick up the kids, wrecked the car, went to a doctor not covered in your health care plan. We erred in a way that will take a while to recover from; yet our spouse took us in his arms and loved us. At a time when we deserved a reprimand, we found mercy. Mercy extended becomes reciprocated until the marriage is characterized as a safe haven of mercy.
Be ye fruitful (Genesis 9:7). Bearing children is still part of God’s design for marriage. The world sends a message that having more than two children is irresponsible; God says children are a blessing. You may feel that your children are causing a wedge between you and your spouse. Consider your view of children. Do you view them as a blessing or do you view them as a power play? “It’s your turn to help with the baths.” “It’s your turn to take a sick day with our son.” When you see your children as the most bountiful blessing that could come to a family, the housework and career and even the strain on the marriage relationship are no longer troublesome.
Be ye perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (I Corinthians 1:10, I Peter 3:8). When God instituted marriage in the garden, He established that a man would be joined to his wife. That joining is more than being joined under the same roof or being joined physically. In marriage, we can be joined in our thoughts, plans, and goals. Together, we can be discerning, not second guessing decisions after it’s too late.
Be ye reconciled (II Corinthians 5:20). Couples separate, and sometimes for good reasons. Particularly when one spouse is involved in legal action, separation may seem prudent. The goal however should always be reconciliation. As soon as both parties or the damaging situation are healed enough, we want to get the couple back together if possible —not just under one roof, but reconciled, as though the separation never happened.
Be ye enlarged (II Corinthians 6:13). The context is that Paul wants the Corinthians to open their hearts to him. In a marriage, we will be infinitely happier when we open our hearts to love our spouse. We don’t close ourselves off like a blocked artery. We open ourselves to let love flow.
Be ye followers of God, walk in love (Ephesians 5:1, I Peter 3:13). In our marriages, we can imitate God. God, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our reconciliation. He sacrificed knowing the joy it would bring to Him.
So is a happy marriage still possible? Absolutely! Be the person who is wise, harmless, steadfast, humble, patient, alert, disciplined, angry-but-without-sin, merciful, fruitful, joined in mind, reconciled, open hearted, and walking in love. It’s a big order; but in it, you will find your reward.