Being Valentine’s Day, today’s column is devoted to the married people out there. Perhaps there is no relationship which can give both great joy and great misery. No marriage is without its problems - conflict and strife are inherent in any relationship - but is there a way where we can move the needle more towards great joy and away from great misery? There is, but only when we intentionally do so. Bad marriages seem to be the default. Good marriages rarely happen by chance. Great marriages only happen with wisdom. So, when we need wisdom, we go to the ancient but ever-so-relevant book of Proverbs. So, I present to you my Top Ten Proverbs for a Great Marriage.
Proverbs 5:15 - Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.
You want to ruin your marriage – have an affair. It’s not that it’s impossible for a marriage to survive infidelity, but you are putting yourself at an extreme disadvantage when you go drinking from another well. Proverbs doesn’t deny the lure, excitement, and the temptation of adultery, but wisdom reminds us that cheap thrills do not compare to the enduring intimacy of a faithful and monogamous marriage. Keep your vows. Be faithful. Read all of Proverbs 5 and 6 for more wisdom.
Proverbs 11:13 - A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
Your spouse needs to be your most trusted confidant. In great marriages, husbands and wives know each other better than they know or are known by anyone else. In a marriage we should be able to share our deepest thoughts, our greatest fears, our most personal feelings, and our most profound joys. And these need to be kept only between a husband and wife. When you reveal private matters about your spouse with others you automatically stifle the sharing of these confidences which impedes the creation of deep intimacy.
Proverbs 15:16 - Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.
The pursuit of wealth has been the downfall of many marriages. It is always wise to evaluate how your careers are affecting your marriage. It’s possible to live on less while actually living more.
Proverbs 15:1 - A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Always be careful about how you talk to one another. Sometimes, even without knowing it, our words can be harsh rather than healing. It’s so easy for a reasonable disagreement to morph into a full-scale argument. Gentleness is a much-underrated virtue. Are you gentle?
Proverbs 17:14 - Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
Not every matter is worth mentioning. So, he did something that wasn’t perfect. Did you really think he was perfect in the first place? Before bringing up a matter consider if it’s really worth it.
Proverbs 17:22 - A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Have fun with one another. Laugh with each other. Share good news from your day. Have a positive outlook on life. Love what your spouse loves. Constantly dwelling on everything that’s bad withers up our spirits.
Proverbs 20:1 - Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
Abuse and overuse of alcohol leads to all kinds of problems. Don’t ignore it if it’s a problem in your marriage, and if your spouse says it’s a problem, it’s a problem.
Proverbs 16:24 - Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Make it a habit to say nice things to your spouse. Compliment one another. The spoken word has more power than we give it credit.
Proverbs 31:30 - Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
This is written to a woman but is applicable to both genders. If you want to be a good spouse, love the Lord. How much effort do you put into your relationship with the Lord? Is how you look more important than who you are? Tending to our souls is far more valuable than tending to our bodies.
Proverbs 18:22 - He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.
Again, this is written to a woman, but works both ways. You spouse is an incredible blessing to your life. Living with a spirit of gratefulness for your spouse will go a long way in being the spouse you need to be. Take a moment right now to thank God for your spouse and then make it a regular habit.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
(Many churches have resources for marriages or counseling services to help you. Don’t hesitate to call your church or any church to find the help that you need.)
Todd Catteau is the preaching minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison. He and his wife, Henriann, have four children and two grandsons. He is a native of Massachusetts and loves his Boston sports teams. His writings and links to sermons can be found at catteau.net. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.