Is a satisfying marriage a mirage? Can two sinners—not to mention offspring!—live in close proximity and intimacy and be truly happy? It is possible, with work and wisdom. In Christian Marriage: A Comprehensive Introduction, David J. Ayers offers some guidelines for the pursuit of a fulfilling marriage. These are presented below as bullet point summaries, but each point is expanded upon in the book.
Good Marriages Start with God
- Put God first. The center of every godly marriage is relationship with God.
- Forgive one another. The degree to which loving our spouse involves giving and receiving grace as we walk together will inform our perceptions and deepen our love.
- Find unity in your faith. Share in church involvement, common faith, and prayer.
Good Marriages Develop Good Habits
- Be radically committed. A basic condition for marital success is to be radically committed to the union itself, in good times and bad.
- Build fences around romantic and sexual temptation. Adultery is a serious danger, and we do well to treat it with all the gravity, care, and attention it deserves.
- Establish godly financial priorities. A couple’s budget and expenditures are a window into their hearts.
- Pursue good communication and conflict management. These are key to establishing and maintaining a warm, enjoyable, supportive, effective, interpersonal relationship.
- Maintain trust. A trusting relationship can only come through consistent and continual honesty
- Have frequent sex. Believers should make this as much an object of prayer and seeking wisdom as every other area of their marital relationship.
Good Marriages Pursue Wisdom
- Be realistic about the effects of having children. When a couple has children, care for their spouse and offspring calls them to higher levels of demanding service and sacrifice then marriage alone may require.
- Be agreed upon the pursuit of paid employment. Couples should agree on how they will meet the financial needs of the family and who will pursue paid work.
- Share work around the house. Both husbands and wives are happier in their marriages when they equally share the work around the house.
- Pursue supportive social networks. It is important to have friends and family behind one’s marriage.
- Spend time with family. Quality time with one’s spouse and children is essential and will likely require intention, effort, and creativity.
There is no secret recipe to a great marriage. All good marriages require well-placed effort. Pursuing healthy priorities, habits, and wisdom will go a long way towards marital success.