Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

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Why You Need Accountability in Marriage

Why You Need Accountability in Marriage

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Proverbs 3:3

If you look up the definition of love in the dictionary, you will find that it is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, love is an intense feeling of deep affection. The verb form of love simply adds that you feel that deep affection for someone or something. Just as with this dictionary definition of love, for much of modern-day society, the beauty of love is reduced to a notion as mercurial as a feeling.

Defining love from a biblical perspective provides a rich and full-orbed understanding of the many facets and duties that are inextricably bound up within the ties of a loving relationship. Scripture offers three love concepts that, when understood properly, create the informing factors for all relationships. Author of “Explore the Bible,” Mike Livingstone, provides a concise explanation of biblical love concepts, “God created sexual love (eros) to be expressed in marriage between husbands and wives. He also created us to be connected to friends (Philos)—to live in community.” Further, he writes, “Agapē is the word that describes God’s love in John 3:16, “God loved the world in this way …” (CSB). We are commanded to love God (Matt. 22:37) and love one another (John 13:34) with agapē love. Agapē is the word for love used in 1 Corinthians 13.”

The Christian man and woman who walk down the aisle of love and enter into marriage will find that all three forms of biblical love are to be threaded throughout the days of a healthy and vibrant marriage. Agapē love, however, is the overarching and defining love that God ordains for every Christian marriage. Carefully knitted within agapē love, we can find the concepts of an obligation borne out of love: the covenant of faithfulness. God’s love is faithful, and in his image, we are called to faithful love. Love does not exist separate from faithfulness, and within the bounds of faithfulness exist all accountability elements. God’s love can be depended on, as he is accountable to his own word, so we are called to love as he loves.

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

The fullness of the definition of agapē as found in the New Testament and translated from the Greek is pure love, intentionally desiring the greatest good of another, not born out of feelings, but faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice. It is not a feeling but rather an intentional choice. It is accountable and faithful. Love grows and is fostered within the construct of it being wed to faithfulness, and just as in marriage where a woman and man become one, so are love and accountability woven together. The importance of accountability within a Christian marriage cannot be understated; the beauty of this commitment of faithfulness is that as you practice it, you find that you are undergirding not only your spouse and your marriage but you are building strong foundations in your personal relationship with God and within your church and community-at-large.

Here are three accountability areas that can help build the strong foundations needed for a solid and lasting marriage.

1. Personal Relationship with God

On the topic of marriage, author Tamara Chamberlain writes, “In order to discover what it means to carry out the various roles in your life well, you must first discover what it means to center every decision, desire, and dream on the will of God.”

Intimacy with God and seeking to discover and live out the inherent identity in a personal relationship with God is first and foremost when considering the importance of accountability in marriage. I often affirm to my husband that even though I love him dearly, I love Jesus more, and because of this, his tender human heart is held with greater care and esteem.

Growing marital intimacy well begins with seeking spiritual intimacy and personal accountability as an individual before God. Developing a consistent habit of studying the Bible and talking to God in prayer allows for a growth mindset spiritually. Centering every part of ourselves on God and allowing the transformation that comes through an intimate and consistent relationship with God enables us to step into a relationship with our spouse that is Christ and faithfulness centric, as opposed to self-focused. In this way, we can ensure that “in our relationships with one another, (we) have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

2. Creating Accountability with Your Spouse

The first hints of what may become a lifelong love and a strong committed marriage almost always begin with those feelings that the dictionary describes as love.

However, the strength of the partnership lies in faithfulness and grounded, committed godly love. The covenant promise in a Christian marriage works itself out through mutual accountability. It begins before rings and vows are ever exchanged, as partners work together on hearty and honest discussions about the facets of their relationship. I highly recommend premarital counseling sessions with a well-trained counselor, pastor, or lay guide to facilitate this type of transparent conversation.

Opening your relationship to the hard questions prior to walking down the aisle lays the groundwork for a full and thriving love through the ups and downs of marriage. To build a foundation of mutual understanding and accountability, consider discussion around these areas that will impact the marital relationship: Family of Origin, Childhood Stories, Finances, Sex, Communication Style, Parenting, and Faith/Spirituality. With premarital work as a foundation, couples can continue in this type of strengthening work, benefiting their marriage throughout their lifetime. Along with her husband, one dear friend of mine commits to a yearly marriage retreat. Another couple engages in a quarterly check-up with an advocate for their marriage.

If your marriage didn’t have the advantage of a foundation of accountability or completing the work to create understanding through premarital counseling or other marital advocacy support, now is a great time to engage in the valuable work of building a relationship of commitment and faithfulness. Advocate support is often available through your local church and national resources such as the Center for Marriage & Relationships at Biola University.

3. Living Faithfully Within the Church and the Community At Large

Honoring the concept of accountability and covenant within the Christian marriage can enhance both the local church and the community it serves. It also has large-scale implications for the church at large.

Statistics indicate that, on average, marriage offers better physical health and financial stability, and their children often experience higher academic performance. Healthy marriages and families can serve as one of the “building blocks” of society, whereas the breakdown of the marital and family unit costs society at large, increasing child poverty and the feminization of poverty, among other adverse results. A marriage that functions from a value of serving one another and their family, their church, and members of their local community with agapē love that stems from a committed relationship with God can have a far-reaching impact on the individuals and communities with which they intersect.

Couples who seek to build accountability within the church and desire to be a benefit to society can begin with the stair steps of seeking intentional intimacy in a personal relationship with God and adding to this the commitment to do the work of mutual faithfulness with your spouse. They can interact beneficially from this strong foundation within the church and community. Husbands and wives can meet regularly with small groups designed to enhance marriage. They can serve together in the community and pass on their marital success and the gains they have had through struggles by engaging in marriage mentoring for other couples.

Mutual accountability in marriage begins with understanding that love is far more than a feeling; it is in its very essence the underpinnings of the gospel itself. It is agapē: pure, intentionally desiring the greatest good of another, not born out of feelings, but rather faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice. It is woven into the core of marriage within the value of faithfulness. Without accountability, marriage and all relationships will suffer, and the commission to love God and others will fail to thrive.

Photo credit: © Getty Images/fizkes

Stacey Monaco has been speaking and writing since her first unpublished children’s book in the fifth grade. Her journey as a writer has taken her from the depths of blue water exploration, to the simplicity of crafting words to encourage and educate in the areas of loss, legacy, leadership, and living life passionately with purpose. Stacey received her Masters Degree in Christian Ministry and Leadership from Talbot School of Theology, and has worked in many roles from slinging coffee to pastoring women. To find more on living the Christian life with intention, head over to her website at