I started to title this article “5 Elements of a Happy Marriage”, but then I realized that the things I want to talk about go much deeper than just being happy. You see, happiness is an emotion or an experience of varying degrees and is dependent on what I’ll call and outside force.
Joy, on the other hand, is NOT an emotion, but rather a state of being. Joy is a peace of mind that says no matter what, you will remain committed and content; knowing you have the hope and guidance of the Lord. Joy comes from inside your heart, soul, and mind.
So what does all of this have to do with marriage?
I’m so glad you asked.
Marriage is a state of being, NOT an emotion
I cannot begin to count the number of times I have been talking to young brides-to-be who are giddy with the excitement of planning their wedding. They are completely focused on creating the “perfect day”. I understand their wanting the day to be special and memorable, but here is what I say to them:
“The wedding is nice but the marriage is what really counts.”
A pretty dress, a fancy cake, and even an exotic honeymoon will make you happy, but those things will be over in a New York minute so you’d better be prepared to be a lot more than happy with the person you pledged your life and love to. You’d better be joy-filled to belong to that person and here are five key elements that allow you to have that kind of marriage.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3)
Yes, God is supposed to be number one in everything. When God is the center of our lives and of our marriages, things are just as they should be. Putting God first is also no guarantee against arguments, financial burdens, parenting struggles, or some of the other things that try to unravel your relationship. But when God is first in your marriage you will have the joy of knowing He is protecting your relationship, rather than riding the emotional rollercoaster that ends in divorce about fifty percent of the time.
#2: Selfless love and submission
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her… So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)
God created the institute of marriage with a definite set of schematics of how it works best. He made husbands to be the head of the household and wives to be submissive. That being said, we need to remember that a husband who loves his wife as he has been instructed by God to do would never ask anything of her that would be harmful, demeaning, disrespectful, or anything else that wouldn’t be for her benefit.
In other words, when you have the joy-filled kind of marriage that God intends, submission isn’t a chore because a wife knows her husband is looking to her best interests. Likewise, God doesn’t expect a wife to be a mousy little do-nothing who waits to be told what to do and when to do it. Read Proverbs 31 and you will discover God’s ideal of a wife is one who is respected for her intellect, her industrious nature, and her commitment to God and her family.
Trust me, selflessness and submission can’t be given only when you are in the mood. When you love unselfishly and submissively, you are doing so because of who you are from the inside out.
#3: Spouse before children
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
Far too often husbands and wives put a greater effort and emphasis on being parents than being husbands and wives. I know infants and toddlers require a lot of time and TLC and I am in no way suggesting that you neglect their physical or emotional needs for any reason. But husbands and wives need to remember they are ONE; meaning you parent as a team.
You must also remember that how you treat one another is how your children will treat you (and your spouse) AND your marriage is going to be the standard by which they someday have for their own marriage.
When you have a joy-filled marriage vs. one that is emotion-based, you give your children a stable, secure, and joy-filled place to call home and an example of what marriage God’s way looks like.
#4: Work at it
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1Corinthians 13:4-7)
Marriage is hard work—even when God is number one. Every marriage is faced with temptations to devote too much time to your job, to put personal interests ahead of your spouse, and to let the pressures of bill paying, parenting, household chores, and even serving in the church get in the way.
In order to protect your marriage from these things you have to purposefully work to protect it from temptations and worldly interference.
#5: Leave others out of it
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)
The relationship between adult children and their parents, and children and their grandparents is precious and priceless. But these relationships should be kept separate from your marriage. Joy-filled marriages don’t allow interference from parents, other extended family, or friends.
Mentoring, counseling, and advice are great when done without going behind your spouse’s back, when done without verbally attacking your spouse, and for the purpose of marriage enrichment… not gathering allies or playing “Divide and Conquer”.
Marriage, when done God’s way, is a joy that truly can last a life time.
~ By Darla Noble