God’s rules for living – the 10 Commandments – have stood the test of time. They should; they were written by God Himself. The details of what keeping those commandments might look like may change with circumstances, but the principles never do. And those same 10 Commandments can describe what it takes to develop strong marriage.
You know the 10 Commandments, right? If you’re rusty, check the bottom of this post. I’ve listed the short version there.
Just like the all-encompassing original 10 Commandments, this is a standard which none of us keeps perfectly on our own. We need the grace of God here as much – or more – than anywhere else! But knowing what works in the economy of this thing God created called marriage helps us to see where we are doing well, and where we need to seek God’s help to be more consistent.
10 Commandments for a Strong Marriage
- Thou shalt have no other human being more important to you than your spouse. Short of God Himself, your spouse is to be clearly Number 1. That means children, parents, friends, bosses, or anyone else comes after your spouse. Your best time, fondest thoughts, and most concentrated effort are engaged for the benefit of your spouse and your relationship together.
- Thou shalt not put job, money, status, or material things above thy spouse. The other necessary aspects of life also become second to your marriage relationship. (If you wonder how well you’re doing here, ask yourself how important your spouse believes they are to you.) Many people have forgotten this until it’s too late for their marriage.
- Thou shalt not speak ill of thy spouse to other people. Look for opportunities to speak well of your spouse. Hearing yourself frequently speak well of them to others also helps keep your own heart pure and focused. The good words you say may well come back to your spouse, and encourage them to live up to the good things you are saying about them.
- Thou shalt take time for recreation and renewal together with thy spouse. Playing together, relaxing together, doing things to grow together spiritually – such activities increase the friendship bond between you as well as make you individually stronger. When you focus together on God during a portion of your renewal time the benefits are especially meaningful.
- Thou shalt respect thy family heritage and that of thy spouse. You came from somewhere, and so did your spouse. You are creating a new history together, but your individual histories will impact your current relationship until and unless you acknowledge both the good and bad parts of what each of you brought to the table, and proactively choose what to keep and what to change.
- Thou shalt not kill thy spouse’s soul through neglect or criticism. You are entrusted with the care and keeping of your spouse’s heart. You’re not responsible for their choices, but your words and actions have tremendous power to wound or to heal. No one’s words have a greater power to build them up or tear them down than yours. Use that power wisely and kindly.
- Thou shalt not seek intimacy with anyone other than thy spouse. Your spouse is the only one you can legitimately be intimate with – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Cultivate and tend that intimacy as a valuable and precious gem. This includes sex and sexuality, of course, but it also includes the intimate emotional and spiritual details of your relationship.
- Thou shalt not take the credit that rightfully belongs to your spouse. Competition with your spouse can destroy both you and them. Praise your spouse, and both of you are elevated. Look for the good, and be generous with your compliments. By working together rather than in competition you will multiply your success as a couple.
- Thou shalt tell thy spouse the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Communication – honest, kind, vulnerable, frequent, and mutual. Listen as much as you talk. There’s almost no time when holding something back from your spouse ends up being better for your relationship. Talk about the superficial stuff, the hard stuff, the good stuff, the bad stuff – all of it.
- Thou shalt not try to get from thy spouse what they cannot give. There’s a part of your needs that no human being – not even your spouse – can fulfill. That comes only from God. Seek out the ways in which you can get your own soul filled up, especially from God Himself, and you’ll have more to invest in your marriage.
You can see how each of God’s original 10 Commandments applies to the beautiful and challenging thing called marriage.
Where do you need to ask for God’s grace to do better?
Your Turn: Which of the 10 Commandments for a Strong Marriage do you have the hardest time keeping? Can you see how it might be damaging to your marriage? Leave a comment below.
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The 10 Commandments
(In case you’ve forgotten them, hare’s the short form, taken from the King James English version. See Exodus 20:3-17)
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make any image (idol) of any other gods.
- Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness.
- Thou shalt not covet.