Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

What Are the 3 Foundations of Marriage?

What Are the 3 Foundations of Marriage?

The strength and stability of a building's foundation are what keep it from collapsing. As any architect knows, there are specific steps a builder must take to form a foundation that will stand the test of time. So it is with marriage. Without a firm foundation, couples are subject to all kinds of issues that can chip away at their commitment and eventually cause the relationship to crumble. Biblically speaking, there are three foundations of marriage that lay the groundwork for an amazing relationship. These foundations are built layer by layer in God-given order and are proven to withstand the worst of storms.

The encouraging thing is that these foundations can be added to any marriage at any time. God has a beautiful way of strengthening even the most fractured relationships and reestablishing marital commitments for the long haul.

Here Are Three Biblical Foundations of Marriage:

1. Commitment to Your First Love (Hint: It's Not Your Spouse)

Your first love, Jesus Christ, is your firm foundation in marriage. There is no other foundation upon which a God-honoring relationship can be built.

As Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."

Your marriage can withstand the worst of storms when it's built upon Jesus. He is the rock of your salvation, and He is the bedrock of your faith. When you love Him first and foremost, you are building all other relationships on His Divine characteristics, and His love equips you to love your spouse in the healthiest of ways.

Without Christ at the center, your marriage foundation will be missing the strength needed to endure. As the Lord said to the church in Ephesus, "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first."

This passage reminds all of us to remember Jesus, our first love, and prioritize Him above all others - including our spouses. This foundational cornerstone of marriage is what everything else is built upon.

2. Commitment to Sacrificial Love (Hint: It's Not Easy, but It's Powerful)

One of the most powerful passages for husbands is found in Ephesians 5:25-30, which says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body."

The sacrificial love portrayed in these verses is not easy to live out, but it's a love willing to go to great lengths to honor marriage and glorify God. For husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies means to nurture them physically, emotionally, and Spiritually.

Here are several foundational actions listed in Ephesians 5:

  • Love your wife as Christ loved the church.
  • Cleanse her through the washing of the Word.
  • Present her as holy and radiant.
  • Love her as you love your own body.
  • Feed and care for her.

While this list might seem condescending to some, it's actually a beautiful word picture of a nurturing relationship patterned after Jesus' love for those He came to save. When husbands purpose to live in this way, wives will be honored, valued, and strengthened to be the indispensable helpmates they were created to be.

3. Commitment to Submissive Love (Hint: It's Not Only for Wives)

For many wives, the word submission causes a tense reaction full of resistance. Unfortunately, this stems from the very first temptation Eve faced in the garden of Eden. She knew what tree in the garden was off-limits, most likely from the advice of her husband, Adam, who God had warned in Genesis 2:16-17.

"And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'"

Eve chose to follow her desires prompted by the enemy's craftiness and ignored God's and Adam's warnings. This is a temptation for all of us and often leads to division in the marriage union. That's why God designed wives to submit first to Him, then to their husbands.

In today's culture, the thought of wives submitting to their husbands is viewed as outdated, weak, and even barbaric. Sadly, this is a great misunderstanding of biblical marriage and the beautiful way in which God views submission.

Think about it this way: to submit to your husband, as is fitting to the Lord, is a sign of the Holy Spirit's power in you - and His power raised Jesus from the dead! According to God's design, submission is not weakness at all but rather great strength from God Himself. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:21, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." This back-and-forth submission indicates working together as a couple from a place of mutual respect. 

There is no threat to a wife's femininity when the Bible says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-25) Instead, there's a gentleness and peace surrounding submission that brings us full circle in God's holy order for marriage. Just as a thriving business has a specific order of operations, allowing it to grow and excel, so marriage has a beautiful order that provides a solid foundation for growth and maturity.

As any builder knows, a strong foundation is needed for a structure to withstand the test of time. With these three foundations, husbands and wives can build a beautiful and lasting marriage in faithful submission to God and each other.

A Prayer for Your Marriage:

Lord God, I pray for every person reading this today that You will encourage them through Your Word and strengthen their marriage. I ask that every husband and wife will turn to You, Lord Jesus, and remember that You are their First Love - their sure foundation. I also pray specifically for husbands to have such a deep and sacrificial love for their wives; they will be willing to lay down their lives for them. Help them care for their wives as they care for their own bodies, feeding them, nurturing them, and providing for them in the most loving of ways. I pray for wives to dismiss the belief that submission is a sign of weakness and instead embrace it as a powerful example of the Holy Spirit in them. Please give them a sense of great joy in submitting to their husbands as is fitting to You. Let there be a healthy, holy balance of give-and-take that is full of love, mercy, and gentleness. Most of all, Lord, build a solid foundation for every marriage committed to You. Brick by brick, establish the groundwork for couples - no matter how long they've been married - to build upon Christ Jesus and thrive in their marriages as a witness of Your work in their lives. I ask for a special blessing on marriage in general, as a sacred union between a man and a woman. I pray for a hedge of protection around this union that Your mighty hand will lead couples to honor you in their relationships and seek You in all things. I pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

Related articles:

Truths and Myths about Being a Submissive Wife

What Is Submission in Marriage?

How to Lead at Home: 5 Important Things Men Need to Know

How to Encourage Your Husband's Leadership (Even When He Fails)

3 Things Every Husband Is Called To and 3 Things Ever Wife Is Called To

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Gajus

Jennifer WaddleJennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth. 

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