Marriage has always been a hot topic, and back in the first century, just like today, divorce happened for all sorts of reasons. There's even a record from that time that says you could divorce your spouse if they over-salted your food!
In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus challenges this fickle approach to marriage. He says that if you’re asking what the minimum threshold is for walking out on your spouse, you're already missing the bigger picture of what marriage can truly be and the purpose it serves in our lives.
Ephesians 5:25 shows us what God really intended marriage to look like: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” While this verse is addressing husbands – who had all the divorcing power at that time – the principle applies to both spouses. Marriage is about mutual sacrifice.
A strong marriage is about laying down our personal preferences and desires for the good of our spouse. Here are four practical ways to do this in your marriage. When you apply these principles, you’ll foster a deeper, stronger connection with your spouse – just like the one Jesus described.
1. Embrace the messy parts
Conflict is bound to happen when two individuals try to become one. Marriage doesn't create our worst sides; it just shines a spotlight on them. The beauty of a God-centered marriage is that it can help us recognize these flaws and give God a chance to work on them.
But simply engaging in conflict together isn’t what builds intimacy in a marriage. Your approach to this conflict is crucial in preserving and fortifying your relationship. Make sure you don’t fall into one of these toxic communication patterns with your spouse!
2. Set boundaries
Exclusivity strengthens intimacy. Like Jesus said in Matthew 19, a husband and wife are joined together when they get married. It's like putting a protective fence around your relationship.
When this fence goes up, priorities and habits will need to change. You and your spouse will need to choose what is allowed into your relationship and what is kept away for the sake of your connection.
3. Have the right conversations at the right time
Like we said, conflict is inevitable in a marriage, and the way you process it with your spouse matters. This also means that if you have an issue, you need to talk it out with your spouse first. It’s not fair to your husband or wife to talk about your issues with other people when you haven’t even talked about it together yet. Think about it – would you want them to do that to you?
This doesn’t mean you can’t turn to other important people in your life for advice. There's a time and place for wisdom from friends and family. Sometimes, an outside perspective can help! Just don't use it as an excuse to gripe about your spouse or seek validation.
4. Leave home
This doesn’t mean physically moving out of your parents’ house. (Though if you haven’t done this already, you may want to!) Jesus was crystal clear when he said that real intimacy and oneness start when you leave behind your parents and join your spouse.
When two people get married, we often hear about two families joining together. But according to Jesus, what actually happens is the formation of a brand new family unit – one that consists of just you and your husband or wife. This is your new first family.
This means that moving forward, the decisions you make together must prioritize your first family. It’s up to you and your spouse to decide what’s best for your family – not your families.
Building emotional intimacy in your marriage is an ongoing journey. It involves facing conflicts, setting up boundaries, communicating effectively, and embracing the adventure of becoming one with your partner. This way, you'll honor the incredible potential of your union and experience the profound love and intimacy it can bring into your lives.
We want you to have a thriving marriage, and we’ve got some resources to help you do just that! Check these out:
9 Communication Issues in Marriage
4 Tips on How to Pray With Your Spouse
One Week to a Healthier Marriage – a 7-day Bible Reading Plan
Or hear more on this topic in our sermon series, We Need to Talk.
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!