There’s a Proverb for That: “Mawidge Is What Bwings Us Togewer Today”*
Maintaining a healthy marriage is not easy. When internal and external stressors weigh heavily against our marriages, the book of Proverbs is there to help.
Point out people who struggle with relationships, and it’s a safe bet that their lives are not what they want them to be. Healthy, fulfilling relationships top both secular and religious lists of what people say makes them truly happy.
But how can we have healthy relationships in marriage?
Till death do us part or irreconcilable differences
Some statistics continue to place the projected divorce rate in the 40-50 percent range—meaning almost half of marriages end in divorce. While big issues, like extramarital affairs, end some marriages, many others end due to spouses simply not being able to get along with one another. Sadly these “irreconcilable differences” often overshadow the common vow “till death do us part.” Sometimes our marriage vows are easier said than done.
The Bible comments on the violent and disruptive nature of divorce (Malachi 2:16) and how the human marriage relationship is intended to be a beautiful picture of the love between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31-33). So, once we know how important and long-lasting God wants this institution to be, the next step is to work on strengthening our marriages. Thankfully, there’s a proverb for that!
Proverbs and implications
1. Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.”
Marriage of a man and woman can be fantastic! When two willing people come together to be partners for life and form a new family, and both sacrifice and work hard for that family—stable and happy marriages are the result. A whole section of Proverbs focuses on the absolute blessing of a virtuous wife (Proverbs 31:10-31), while another proverb reminds us that marriage is for rejoicing (Proverbs 5:18).
When two willing people come together to be partners for life and form a new family, and both sacrifice and work hard for that family—stable and happy marriages are the result.Implications: Don’t believe the insults, lies and attempts to compromise the institution of marriage. Remember the multiple blessings of marriage, not just the challenges. So often, marriage is made to look boring and unfulfilling, while destructive sexual sin is made to look romantic and exciting. Don’t believe the lies that Satan and this world sling at us about marriage!
2. Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Ask any marriage counselor what the key to a healthy marriage is, and he or she will probably answer: “communication.” Sure, financial peace and external stressors will come up, but it’s really the communication between a husband and wife that will determine if the waves just rock the marriage boat or actually capsize it. Several proverbs expand on how focusing on what we say truly has power over life and death (Proverbs 18:21). These proverbs illustrate the vast difference between wise and violent communication (Proverbs 12:18).
Implications: Even when we are comfortable with our spouses, we should still be very careful to guard our tongue when speaking with them. Listening without interrupting, avoiding subjective and emotionally charged terms (“you never …” or “you always …”), fulfilling or following up on what we’ve verbally committed to, being generally polite (“please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry”) and so forth are all examples of principles taught to preschool children that should be applied on a daily basis in marriage.
Compromising the basics of kind, loving and thoughtful communication can be the difference between marriages that last and marriages that fail.
Read “Words That Hurt, Words That Help” for more insight on this key issue.
3. Proverbs 15:17: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.”
Even if all external and internal stressors are taken care of, without love it means absolutely nothing. Though John Lennon’s song “All You Need Is Love” is a bit simplistic and incomplete, true love can indeed help a couple overcome a lot of issues!
The key to practicing true love is to understand that love must include actions—it is not just a feeling! Love requires kindness (Proverbs 19:22), generosity (Proverbs 22:9) and overcoming anger and contention (Proverbs 21:19).
Implications: Falling “in and out” of love is for Hollywood movies, not Christians. Love is deeper than the way we feel about our mates; it is spiritual and requires action. Marriage works best if we are striving each day to show our mates the kind of love we experience from God. It’s a tall order indeed, but necessary.
Plenty more where those came from
Proverbs has much more to say about relationships, specifically marriage, and it’s sitting in our homes waiting to be used. The Proverbs mentioned here suggest a theme of “marriage is a wonderful blessing when love and godly communication are present.” The next time we feel like our marriage is “on the rocks,” remember there’s a proverb for that.
Life, Hope & Truth offers many resources to help our readers build healthy, lasting marriages. Here are a couple that you may find helpful:
*The title of this blog is taken from a humorous scene from the movie, The Princess Bride.