God designed marriage.  And if you follow His plan for it, your marriage can grow and thrive.  Applying God’s biblical principles to your marriage can help you discover His love for you and your spouse, and give you both more love for Him and each other.

Here are 10 “commandments” you can follow to have a thriving marriage:

1. Thou Shalt Not Be a Selfish Pig.  Consider the needs of your spouse before your own.  Seek out ways to give to your spouse.  Be patient with your spouse and understand that neither of you is perfect.  Gently and kindly respond to irritation.  Be honest and vulnerable with your own thoughts and feelings, and make time to genuinely listen to your spouse to try to understand his or her thoughts and feelings.  Ask your spouse, “What says ‘I love you’ to you?” and act on that information.  Discuss your individual priorities in areas such as work, children, friends, church, money, and vacations, then work out the differences so you can work together toward the same goals.  Commit to act in loving ways toward your spouse even if you don’t currently feel the emotion of being in love, and watch as love rekindles after you act in love.  Keep dating each other.

2. Thou Shalt Cut the Apron Strings.  Let your spouse take your mother’s or father’s place as the preeminent person in your life.  Decide to create your own new family without undue influence from your family of origin.  Try to work out conflicts with your spouse just between the two of you, and if you need to seek outside counsel, don’t turn to each other’s parents first.  Don’t accept financial gifts from your parents or in-laws.  Leave your past in the past by refusing to think or talk about old boyfriends or girlfriends, dwell on mistakes that God has forgiven, or frequently discuss special events or experiences that occurred before you met your spouse.  Build a “one flesh” connection with your spouse that makes you together in your hearts even when you are physically apart.

3. Thou Shalt Continually Communicate.  Make regular discussions about things that matter to each of you a habit and top priority.  Don’t let busy schedules, children, television, or fear of conflict keep you from communicating.  Regularly speak affirming words to each other, and use positive tones of voice, facial expressions, and body language.  Be direct; tell your spouse exactly what you want to say instead of merely hinting at it.  But always remember to be tactful while speaking forthrightly.  Consider how your spouse is best wired to give and receive messages:  Is he or she an auditory, visual, or feelings person?

4. Thou Shalt Make Conflict Thy Ally.  Know that it’s normal for married couples to have conflict, and that every married couple can expect to encounter it.  Understand that when conflict is handled poorly, it can damage your marriage, but when it’s handled wisely, it can actually lead to greater intimacy.  Use your anger constructively instead of destructively.  Focus on the problem rather than the person.  Stick to the facts, and don’t set out to deliberately hurt your spouse.  Don’t discuss your private conflicts in front of others, such as family members, friends, or business associates.  Don’t make threats during an argument.  Don’t let small conflicts fester and eventually become big ones.  Don’t make generalizations.  Don’t withhold sex to punish your spouse, or use it as a reward to manipulate him or her.  Pray about your conflicts and listen for God’s responses.  Seek to clearly understand both yourself and your spouse.  Confess your sins.  Forgive your spouse and accept his or her forgiveness.