Eight Keys to a Great Marriage
Eight practical steps that will transform your marriage
Doug Britton, MFT
Marriage Bible study: Introduction
After counseling approximately 1,000 married couples, I have observed that most married couples are poorly prepared for marriage. They don’t know how to create a great marriage God’s way. Their information frequently comes from poor parental examples, the Internet, TV, and movies. Many have the unrealistic expectation that everything will work out naturally simply because they are in love.
The following eight key suggestions, adapted from the “eight-book Marriage by the Book” series, will help you create a marriage that is rewarding and exciting.
Eight keys to a great marriage
The following are vital ways to create a great marriage. As you read, score yourself as a husband or wife from 0 to 10 on each point.
- “0” means “I really need to improve in this area.”
- “10” means “I am doing very well in this area.”
1. Pray together daily. My score (0-10): ____
A Bible study on marriage needs to begin with saying that praying together is the most important key to a successful, joyful marriage. Invite your spouse to pray together every day, but don’t try to force him or her to join you.
Related: Pray with your spouse daily.
Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
Related: Making Christ the Cornersone
2. Focus on changing yourself, not your spouse. My score (0-10): ____
Focus on changing yourself not your spouse. If you try to follow these eight keys — even if your spouse doesn’t — there is a high probability your marriage will get better.
Don’t say, “I’ll try if my spouse tries.” And don’t focus on his or her shortcomings. Instead, put your major effort into becoming the best husband or wife you can be.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
Related: Take the plank out of your own eye
3. Throw yourself into your marriage. My score (0-10): ____
Don’t take your marriage for granted. Do something every day that will bless your spouse and strengthen your marriage.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)
4. Forgive your spouse. My score (0-10): ____
Don’t let bitterness and resentment grow. Practice forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
5. Serve your spouse. My score (0-10): ____
Ask your mate what is important to him or her, and then put effort into these areas. If your mate won’t say what’s important, work on the following areas.
Remember that people are different, and that your spouse may not match these stereotypes. Work on these areas, but also remember to learn what’s important to him or her.
Serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)
Husbands: If your wife won’t say what’s important to her, work on the following areas that women often say are important:
- Discuss your fears, hopes, dreams, and other feelings.
- Listen to her and seek to deeply understand her.
- Give her the message that she is precious and special, that you are really glad to be married.
- Be romantic throughout the day in non-sexual ways.
Wives: If your husband won’t say what’s important to him, work on the following areas that men often say are important:
- Express respect or admiration.
- Allow him to make mistakes without saying, “I told you so.”
- Voice appreciation for things he does.
- Show an enthusiastic interest in sex.
6. Speak with love and respect. My score (0-10): ____
Your words should build your spouse up, not tear him or her down.
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
7. Talk together regularly. My score (0-10): ____
Don’t just coexist. Have enjoyable talks every day about things that matter to each of you. Also be willing to gently bring up frustrations or issues that bother you.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:6)
Related: Talking with Love and Respect
8. Fan the flames of your romance. My score (0-10): ____
Go on dates, have fun together, take short trips and throw yourself into your sexual relationship.
Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom—there I will give you my love. (Song of Songs 7:11-12)
Related: Celebrating Intimacy and Romance
If you are married, choose one or two of the guidelines from this Bible study on marriage to work on in the coming week.
About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.