As founders of the Facebook “Marriage” page, my wife Ashley and I have had thousands of interactions with people from all over the world who want to improve their marriages. We share principles which many people have credited with saving their marriages, but we can’t actually take credit for inventing these principles, we’ve taken them all straight from the Bible. (Sorry to disappoint you if you thought we were making all this stuff up about marriage in the Bible ourselves!)
People are often surprised to learn what the Bible actually teaches about marriage. I’m a Christian and I wholeheartedly believe the Bible’s truths have practical application to EVERY part of life, but even if you don’t share my faith, I believe these timeless principles from the Bible can revolutionize your marriage. I challenge you to to give them a try! They’ve been working for thousands of years.
10 Surprising Teachings about Marriage in the Bible (In no particular order):
1. Sex should be a priority for both spouses.
Since God invented sex (THANKS, God), He has a lot to say about how it should be used and enjoyed. It’s meant to be used often in marriage with both spouses submitting to each other’s needs and desires. Making love should be a high priority in your marriage. Seriously. Frequency and intimacy in the bedroom will bring greater intimacy to all other aspects of the marriage as well.
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-4
For more on how to have a great sex life in marriage, check out our video series on sex and intimacy in marriage by clicking here.
2. Jesus taught that pornography (“lust”) is actually a form of adultery.
We tend to believe as long as we don’t commit a sex act with someone outside the marriage, then we’re being “monogamous,” but God’s standard for monogamy includes not only what happens in the bedroom, but what happens in the mind. This includes pornography, graphic romance novels, “checking out” other people, etc. It’s a high standard, but it’s because marriage is a high priority.
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28
3. Love is an unconditional commitment, not a fickle feeling.
Couples who talk about “falling out of love” don’t really have a grasp of what love actually means. Love, by its very nature, isn’t a fairy tale feeling, but a commitment. Love is a choice much more than feeling. It’s rooted in commitment much more than compatibility. Love isn’t a story with a happy ending; love is a story with no ending.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:7
4. Every wife needs love and every husband needs respect.
BOTH men and women need love AND respect, but men tend to have a unique desire for respect and appreciation while women have a unique desire for love and adoration. One of the toughest parts of marriage is giving love when your spouse is acting unlovable or giving respect when they’re acting disrespectful, but it’s so important to do it. God gives us His best when we’re at our worst, and He calls us to do that for each other in marriage. People usually need love most when they “deserve” love least.
“So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
5. God hates divorce* (but He loves divorced people).
God is full of love, and the Bible doesn’t give many examples of things God “hates,” but divorce is on the list. Because God has so much love for marriage, his heart breaks over the pain of divorce (and our hearts should break too). There are certainly circumstances where divorce may be the only remaining option, but far too many couples see divorce as a first response instead of a last resort.
“For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” Malachi 2:16
*If you are divorced and/or in a second marriage, please don’t read this and feel judged or shamed. When I read everything the Bible has to say about grace, and the examples of all the great leaders in the Bible who fell far short of God’s standard, I’m comforted in knowing God gives second chances and new beginnings. You can’t change the past, but you can start now and build a new future with each other.
In our selfish human nature, we tend to look at every relationship (including marriage) as a way to get our own needs met, but marriage means laying down your own rights for the sake of another. This requires mutual submission and serving your spouse even when they’re not reciprocating. This is modeled by how Jesus served us and even died for us when we were undeserving.
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her” Ephesians 5:21-25
7. A husband and wife are united in EVERYTHING.
There can’t be “his” and “hers” when it comes to money, hopes, dreams or struggles. Marriage means sharing everything. It means keeping no secrets from each other. This means your disagreements won’t have a “winner” and a “loser” because you’ll either win together or lose together every time. It means remembering that you should never let your spouse walk alone, because you’re unified in everything.
“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Genesis 2:24
8. A marriage takes three.
I’m not talking about polygamy here (although some in the Bible practiced it and caused a lot of family drama as a result). The third member of a marriage is God Himself. He created marriage not just to be a man and a woman, but rather, a man and a woman in a growing relationship with each other and with God. The more you love God, the more capacity you will have to love each other.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
9. A husband and wife should NEVER keep secrets from each other.
The very first picture of marriage we see in the Bible was illustrated by “nakedness.” This obviously gives us a vivid picture of the importance of physical nakedness in marriage, but nakedness in the Bible also represents and emotional vulnerability and transparency. The strongest marriages are “naked marriages” which means there are NO secrets, hidden passwords, hidden purchases, hidden money or anything else. The level of your transparency will determine the level of your trust and the stronger your trust, the stronger your marriage will be.
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:25
10. Your first LOYALTY should always be to your spouse.
The Bible talks about “leaving and cleaving.” It’s a clear call to loyalty. Once we’re married, we can no longer place other family members or other pursuits ahead of the marriage. Your spouse has to come first. Defend each other. Protect each other. Be there for each other.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
For additional resources to help you build a stronger marriage, please check out our new resources at FightingForMyMarriage.com.
Don't give up on your marriage. It is worth the effort and investment. If you feel like your marriage is struggling, or even failing, there is hope. There is healing.