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Marriage, ordained by God, can be incredibly beautiful, intimate and rewarding. On the other hand, it can be frustrating and hard work. So, why, if God created marriage, can it be so dang hard, at times?
Simple. God created male and women differently and each of those differences contribute to the potential for miscommunication, arguing or worse.
I’ve asked some experts to give us some insight and their best marriage advice, but before we dive into the amazing insight on biblical marriage from thirteen well-known and respected bloggers and experts on Christian marriage, let’s reexamine marriage from a biblical perspective and the differences between men and women.
God Created Marriage and He Created Men and Women to be Unique, yet Complementary Creatures
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
God Created Male and Female
God created both man and woman in His own image, but they were created male and female. When our children are small, we teach them to identify a man and a woman. Daddy is a male and Mommy is a female. Brother is male and sister is female. Grandpa is male and Grandma is female. Of course, we are pointing out the physical differences between the two genders. Soon, children are able to easily identify people they encounter as male or female.
The differences between man and woman extend far beyond physical characteristics, though. Men and women view the world differently, they have different styles of communicating, different ways to deal with the stress and pressures of this world.
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How we are created differently
Of course, not all men are the same as other men and not all women are the same as other women. We each have unique personality and character differences that make us who we are, but let’s stay with the basic generalities of the differences between the sexes to help us better understand our husbands.
Men were created to:
• Fight (as in a warrior)
• Achieve, succeed, win
Men, when meeting someone, tend to identify with their occupations. If asked to tell about themselves, they would likely respond with “I’m Mike. I’m a plumber and I like to golf”. Ok, so I’m being very simplistic here, but I think you get the point.
Women, on the other hand, were created to:
• Be peacemakers
Women, when meeting someone and asked to tell about themselves, would likely respond with something like “I’m Sue, I’m married to the love of my life and mother of two great kids and two awesome step kids”. Do you see the difference here?
While many women have successful careers and work outside of the home, they were created to be nurturers and crave relationship with others. They identify mainly by those relationships.
Women also tend to be more verbal than men. Even as children, studies have shown, that girls have a larger vocabulary than boys. They are more likely to “use their words” than little boys. Boys, on the other hand, communicate more with sounds and actions. They use grunts, exclamations (pow, vroom etc.) and, even physical actions to communicate. Boys are more likely to throw a toy or strike another child when they are frustrated.
Women tend to share their feelings more. Men tend to share information more. Women tend toward communication, men toward action.
Many marriages struggle in this area due to the differences in how we were created. Men see sex primarily as a physical act. Women usually view sex as an emotional act.
For men, seekers of beauty, sexual attraction usually begins with what they see – a woman’s body, her hair, her breasts (just being real here). For women, however, while they may notice and appreciate a man’s physical attributes, they are likely to find a man’s non-physical characteristics attractive first– his laugh, his humor, his compassion.
Men and women respond to sexual attraction differently, as well. Men are more impulsive and reactive. It may be more difficult for them avoid temptation as they are wired to be aroused by physical sights and images (thus the reason that so many men struggle with pornography).
Women are more likely to become aroused by the words she hears and the attentiveness of her husband, even his gentle touch.
Of course, these are general differences and all may not entirely reflect you or your husband.
Think for a moment about you and your husband. Would you agree or disagree with these differences?
We could spend days parked here discussing the differences between how God created man and woman differently, but I just wanted to point out that we ARE created differently and that those differences can be little chips that cause a marriage to crack if not recognized and navigated with wisdom and grace.
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t point out that these differences are also designed to compliment each other.
So now that we’ve laid the foundation, let’s take a look at the advice from our Christian marriage bloggers and experts.
Best Marriage Advice for Christian Marriages
“The Best advice for a thriving Christian Marriage I can share is in three parts:
1. Love in a Christian Marriage should not look anything like you see on TV. God’s Children thrive best in Marriage when doing things God’s way. God says love unconditionally (1 Peter 4:8). The culture tells us love is a feeling that comes and goes, but to thrive in Marriage is to choose to love – every day – because it is what God demonstrates to us. Even when your spouse is being “unlovable” you are still called to love him the way God loves you.
2. Forgiveness must be the cornerstone of a thriving Christian marriage (Colossians 3:13). When two sinful people do life together hurt will happen. Little things that irritate you, bigger things that cut to the heart and big things that wound you, will all happen in a lifetime together. God’s way to do life requires forgiveness. A godly wife will choose to forgive every day, not bringing a record of wrong into the next day. An atmosphere of forgiveness leads to a happy marriage.
3. Loving, Respectful Communication leads to a thriving Christian marriage (Colossians 4:6). Communication stays open and healthy when both are working intentionally at it. But when Communication breaks down the way to restore it requires two steps. First you have to get control of our thoughts (positive or godly thoughts lead to good communication). Second you have to learn what the other person sees as loving and respectful and be intentional to add those things into your daily conversation.
Those are the three best marriage tips I’ve learned as Bud and I have journeyed through so many difficult seasons. I would even say they are what God used to keep us from divorce as one particular seasons threatened everything we had. They are a small part of what I teach as I mentor other wives and I have seen God completely transform many marriages when they are fixed.”
Tiffany, Hope Joy in Christ
“My advice for a thriving Christian marriage is something I wrote a blog post on entitled In Your Marriage Are You a Thermometer or a Thermostat? A thermometer reflects the temperature in the home but a thermostat changes it. It is so easy for us to reflect someone’s mood back at them. We might be having the most amazing day and our spouse can come home and be in a foul mood and next thing you know we are throwing that same mood back at them. When we do that we are being a thermometer and reflecting their “temperature” back at them. We should act as thermostats and, instead of taking it personally and firing it back at them, we should try to change the climate in the home by showing gentleness and self-control. The Bible says in Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” NIV
Diane Ferreira, Worth Beyond Rubies
“We can turn away wrath just by acting like that thermostat and changing the temperature instead of reflecting it back at them and making things spiral into a full blown fight.” and “Make sure you express your expectations and feelings to your spouse, but always in love. Remember that non-verbal communication and actions speak louder than words.”
Meygan and Casey, founders of Marriage 365.
As difficult as it is to narrow it down to just one answer, I do believe that there is one irrefutable factor that can make or break a relationship. As one who has been with my husband since I was 16 years old, I’d have to say one of the key components to having a thriving Christian marriage is mutual respect. Taking each other’s feelings into consideration and honoring one another help to build a solid and trusting foundation. Disrespect can drive a wedge in between even the closest of couples. I think of Queen Vashti in the book of Esther and where her disrespect got her with her husband King Xerxes when I’m tempted to disregard my husband’s feelings. That’s when I recall that we are to value each other above ourselves. Philippians 2:3
Natalie Venegas of Milk and Honey Faith.
“There are so many ways to help a Christian marriage thrive, but what I’ve found to be most important is to look to and rely on my Bridegroom (Christ) first and foremost, before looking to and relying on my groom (husband). It is only by filtering every expectation through Christ’s perspective, and strengthening every effort I do in my marriage with Christ’s power that I can truly love my husband and thrive in marriage.”
Beth Steffaniak of Messy Marriage
“A husband and wife do their marriage a world of good if they are intentional about their friendship and their sexual intimacy. Investing in your marriage often in these two ways not only keeps a relationship fun and passionate, but also helps a married couple weather even the toughest of storms. Be friends. Be lovers. Authentic oneness between the two of you is yours in abundance when you embrace God’s gift of intimacy.”
Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage.
“Too often we get in this rut where sex becomes for the husband. She has sex out of obligation, because she knows she should and “he needs it.” A far better way to think of sex is that it’s for BOTH of us. God even created a body part on women where the only purpose is for her pleasure! But the reason that sex becomes an obligation is because sex too often is only about him. If you’re in a rut, stop aiming to have sex. Instead, aim for arousal. Spend some time actually figuring out how she feels aroused, even if that means you don’t have intercourse for a while. If you want a great sex life in the long run, it should be about mutual passion. That won’t happen if it’s only about him. God made sex to be a passionate adventure for both of you, where you both feel intimately connected. So we need to get away from obligation, and move towards mutuality. And for that–figuring out the arousal piece is really the key!”
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“I would encourage folks to work on those things over which they have control. That pretty much boils down to dealing with yourself. 🙂
Ask God to show you where you need to grow. For example, you feel Him nudging you about your personal honesty. Research scripture on honesty and practice listening to yourself speak. Are you being reasonably honest or are you “shaping” the truth? Continue until you feel you understand honesty and are working it well into your life.
What’s next? How about learning to listen well? Practice being present and asking questions. Listen to understand rather than using your listening time to work up your answer or advice.
As you follow God’s direction for your personal growth, look at how it might impact your marriage. Your honesty will build trust between you and your husband. Your ability to listen well will give your husband the courage to speak his truth, share his dreams, and feel safe in your conversations.
You can’t really change others and circumstances can be pretty challenging as well. Bless your spouse and your marriage by growing to be more like Jesus, modeling His Kingdom ways, and making life sweeter for those around you. The more you focus on what you can do, the more those around you will be influenced by your ways and the more your circumstances will respond to your growing kindness and generosity.”
“The best marriage advice I can offer is simply remembering how much we, ourselves, have been forgiven by Jesus Christ. We’ve been forgiven of so much and if a blameless God can forgive everything we’ve done, how much more should we be able to forgive the things that our imperfect spouse has done?
My second piece of advice compliments the first. It’s this: Just because we’re called to forgive doesn’t mean that we need to accept all of our spouse’s actions and simply live with destructive behavior. We as Christians are called to live our lives in a way that pleases the Lord and we’re called to hold other Christians accountable to that as well (in humility and love). Being forgiving and loving doesn’t mean never being confrontational. It sometimes means helping people to grow into the best version of themselves yet.”
Living the Sweet Wife’s, Chelsea Damon
“My best advice for married couples is to make following and deepening your personal walk with God your #1 priority. It’s fantastic if you can follow God together as a team, but even if your husband isn’t super interested in Christianity, absolutely follow HARD after God yourself. The Bible isn’t a dusty, old-fashioned, worn-out book. It’s full of real, solid life advice that really WORKS — you just have to be willing to follow it. But if you do, it really makes such a world of difference.”
Brittany, of Equipping Godly Women
“Focus on building a thriving relationship with Christ. Do whatever it takes to have intimate knowledge of your Father. Get serious about aligning your schedule around Christ instead of simply fitting Him into your plans. As your relationship with Christ grows, you’ll desire to love your husband better. You’ll want to honor God in how you speak to your husband, how you respond to your husband, and how you love him. Christ in you helps you lay down your own expectations and strips away the pieces of you that are self-serving. Through Christ, all things are held together (Colossians 1:17).”
A Wife Like Me, Amanda
April Cassidy of Peaceful Wife shared a list of great marriage advice that covers nearly every area of our unions:
Don’t immediately assume that he doesn’t love you when you feel unloved. Feelings are important. We do need to check into them. But feelings are not the source of absolute truth. Sometimes they can mislead you in destructive ways.
- His perspective is often very different from yours but different doesn’t necessarily mean that he is “wrong.” If you are open to learning to understand his unique masculine world, you may just discover that his perspective adds a lot of beauty, joy, blessing, and wisdom to your life.
- Everyone needs a certain amount of healthy space to recharge spiritually and emotionally, even in marriage.
- Treat your man well. Use a friendly tone of voice whenever possible. Smile a lot just to bless him.
- Be his friend and use at least as much courtesy with him as you would use with a customer at work or your best girlfriend. You have quite a bit of power to either build up your husband and marriage or tear it down.
- You don’t have to disrespect yourself to respect him. Seek to respect God first and foremost, then your husband, and yourself all at the same time.
- Get to know and understand your husband’s personality and the positives of it. Appreciate and admire his strengths.
- Be patient with him and with yourself. We are all works in progress.
- The wife tends to set the emotional temperature of the marriage. Use this power wisely.
- Don’t expect your husband to meet the deepest needs of your soul that only God can meet. Spiritual well being is an inside job between you and Jesus. Seek the Lord far more than anyone or anything else in this life. When you are full of the Spirit and full of the love of God, your attitudes, words, and actions will pour spiritual life and healing into your marriage and family.
- When you experience trials and problems in marriage and in life, God has amazing spiritual treasures He wants to share with you, if you are open to receiving them. These can be your times of greatest spiritual growth.
- The way you treat your husband is a tangible indicator of your love and reverence for God.
- You can’t change your husband. You can’t control your husband. If you try to control him, you will make both of you miserable and you will only sabotage the very intimacy you long for most.
- You can’t even change yourself much without God’s power. But with the Holy Spirit, God can transform you and change your heart, mind, and soul. Then you can be a powerful influence for Christ on your husband’s life in a positive way.
- Everyone needs to feel heard and like they have a voice in marriage. His feelings matter. Your feelings matter. You will both be able to hear each other best if you share your desires respectfully.
- If you want your husband to lead well, encourage and affirm what he does right. It’s easy to crush your husband’s desire to selflessly, lovingly lead if you have a critical spirit or a spirit of offense or if you take over in exasperation.
The real test of your faith is the fruit of your life. If the Spirit is in control, you will act with the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control of Christ. If you find yourself responding in other ways, it’s time to get alone with the Lord for a heart check.
I’d like to end with this beautiful story of restoration, through Christ, peppered with wonderful marriage advice from JR and Carrie Lightstein of My Marriage is Worth It:
“The best advice we would give for a Thriving Christian Marriage is… well first, a little background.
When we were first married, we were not Christians. Okay, let’s be honest- we were pretty messed up! So, it was no surprise that we found ourselves separated 3 times in the first 3 years of our marriage.
During our 3rd separation, we were separated over 500 miles for almost 5 months with basically no contact during that time… oh and we were headed straight for a divorce.
It was during this last separation that everything changed. I (JR) figured that I needed some counseling or something. Now I couldn’t afford a “real” counselor, so I looked up a pastor in the phone book. When I first went to meet him, he said the words that would save our life and our marriage. You ready? Here they are:
“Things will never be right between you and Carrie until you get things right between you and God!”
I didn’t really understand what he was talking about, but he took me through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation showing me how God had been wooing me to him and wanted to have a relationship with me.
Through some providential prodding Carrie was meeting with a pastor 600 miles away who was telling her the same things and we finally gave our lives to Jesus and He gave our marriage back to us!
Today we have been married for almost 24 years and our marriage has been completely perfect ever since! . . . Yeah… I don’t think so…
Since that time, we have had a lot to learn in our marriage and to be honest, we still do. But one thing has never changed, if our relationship with God is off (even just a little), then so is our marriage.
So, we have to surrender ourselves over to Jesus anew every single day. We use John 15:4 along with Galatians 5:22-23 as our “Marriage Maintenance” verses:
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4, NIV84)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23, NIV84)
We use the passage from Galatians as the gauge on how we are doing, are we exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in our marriage:
• Are we Loving each other?
• Is there Joy in our marriage?
• Is there Peace?
• Are we Patient with one another? Etc.
If we find that we are not living like this, then we head straight to John 15:4. We almost always realize that we have drifted from the vine- we need to get back to Jesus!
There are various communication skills and other biblical principles that we use in our marriage, but if Jesus isn’t the foundation- if He is not at the center, then everything else falls apart.
So, our best advice for a Thriving Christian Marriage is simple:
“Keep Jesus at the center of your life and He will be at the center of your marriage!”
This truth has carried us for the past 24 years and will carry us until we finish the race and head home to be with our Father in Glory.
Because, things will never be right between you and your spouse until things are right between you and God!
Believe it and Live it, because your life AND marriage is worth it!”
We all have different marriage, different stories to tell, but each of these experts shared great marriage advice with one thread throughout: for a marriage to thrive, God needs to be at the center of it!
Which of the experts marriage advice resonated with you the most? What would you add?
To deepen your walk with Christ and strengthen your marriage, check out the top devotions for couples.
Because of Him,