Follow the 10 Commandments of Marriage
- Thursday, September 11, 2003
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.
5. Thou Shalt Avoid the Quicksand of Debt. Stick to the “10-70-20 budget.” Start by subtracting your tithe and taxes from your gross monthly income. Then take 10 percent of what is left and save or invest it. Use 70 percent of the remaining amount for your monthly expenses. Then apply the remaining 20 percent to debt reduction. Overcome greed by learning to admire things without desiring them, regularly giving things away, giving generously toward advancing God’s kingdom, and reminding yourself that you can’t take anything with you when you die.
6. Thou Shalt Flee Sexual Temptation – Online and Otherwise. Treat sexual temptation as if it were a deadly disease, and do everything you can to run from it. Protect your mind, asking God to help you keep it pure, realizing that your body follows your mind. Build sexual intimacy with your spouse; devoting enough time to him or her; getting away from others to be together; and being sensitive to your spouse’s energy levels, best time of day or night, and desires.
7. Thou Shalt Forgive Your Mate 490 Times. Make forgiveness a habit that you’re always willing to practice with God’s help. Forgive your mate not just for big issues, but also for small things like irritating behavior that can drive a wedge between you. Take every thought captive by praying for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and bring your thoughts into conformity with biblical truths. Remember how lavishly God has forgiven you, and know that the ways you should forgive your spouse – even for major issues – pale in comparison to what Christ has done for you.
8. Thou Shalt Keep the Home Fires Burning. Keep the fires of love and passion burning by tending to your marriage as diligently as you would a living thing. Consistently speak words of blessing to your spouse. Humbly and specifically confess your mistakes to God and your spouse, seek forgiveness, then move on. Accept your spouse unconditionally. Don’t try to change your spouse; trust God alone to do that. Realize that the only one you can change is yourself. Treat your husband or wife with respect. Study your spouse and note his or her likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses. Then use that information as you interact with him or her.
9. Thou Shalt Begin Again and Again. Know that no matter how badly your marriage may have begun or become, God can heal and renew it. Accept your partner’s flaws and idiosyncrasies, knowing that since Christ has accepted him or her, you should, too. Give your mate your full attention as often as possible. Mutually submit to each other, and adjust to each other’s needs and dreams. Overlook offenses whenever you can. Encourage each other however you can. Express affection on a regular basis, such as by holding hands or hugging.
10. Thou Shalt Build a Winning Team. Don’t be deceived into thinking that your marriage is nobody’s business but your own. Realize that your marriage affects God, your children, your family and friends, and your society. Strive for teamwork in your marriage. Look to God as the architect of your marriage, and commit to following His blueprints. Look to Jesus Christ as your marriage’s coach, and read His “playbook” (the Bible). See your mate as a player on your side, and decide to work toward the same goals together. Develop intangibles that can help you win, such as goal-setting, commitment, discipline, and togetherness. Draw on fan support in the form of encouragement from family, friends, children, coworkers, and your church family.
Adapted from "The 10 Commandments of Marriage: The Do’s and Don’ts for a Lifelong Covenant," © 2003 by Ed Young. Published by Moody Publishers, www.moodypublishers.org.
Ed Young has been the senior pastor of 31,000-member Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, since 1978. He is the author of 10 books and ministers through the international television and radio broadcasts "Winning Walk." Ed and his wife, Jo Beth, live in the Houston area.
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