I have been focusing quite a bit on marriage and related issues recently. Being the “season of love” it seems appropriate to spend some time on the only intimate earthly relationship God intends to remain until death.

Scripture tells us that a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2:24). This one flesh relationship supersedes that of the parent-child relationship and is intended to be representative of the relationship between Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-32).

We have been married for over 20 years, and have a wonderful and fulfilling relationship. Our marriage is not without its trials and difficulties and even a heartache or two, but my husband and I believe we are truly blessed to have each other.

I was recently asked some questions about how to build a solid marriage and thought I would share them and my answers with you. Any relationship that leads to marriage has to begin with a solid friendship as its base. As friends you learn likes and dislikes, and see his or her positive character qualities and defects. Friends have the freedom to speak into each others lives and typically friends tend to really listen to each other. As a friend to him or her you can often see the reality of their relationship with Jesus Christ and you learn if you are interested in spiritual things to the same degree.

Determine from the beginning to only date men or women who are of the same spiritual beliefs as you are. When Larry and I reconnected after a number of years I would not date him because he was not spiritually regenerated. It was not until God saved him by grace that I consented to a date, and then there were many, many talks about the critical importance of faith in a relationship.

I caution spiritually strong women who find men who are not strong spiritually to really evaluate if the relationship is workable. Women want men who will lead them and their family on the paths of righteousness and it is not good for the woman to take the spiritual lead in the home.

Any relationship that is headed toward marriage must have Jesus Christ at its center. A relationship that is not Christ-centered and built on biblical principles will not prosper in this evil and immoral age we live in. This is born out by the dismal marriage statistics we see today. Even “Christians” (defined as those who say they are one) have a high rate of divorce. Please understand, not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is one (Matt. 7:21)!

Each person in the relationship must decide that they want to glorify God by how they live their life. God’s Word is stuffed full of instruction on how to do so therefore, Bible reading needs to be a part of the relationship. When both the man and the woman make God’s glory their goal, it becomes easy (or easier) to think of others more than yourself (Phil 2). It becomes easier to think more about serving than being served ( Rom. 12:10; 1 Peter 4:10), and it makes it easier to forgive one another – even of deep hurts ( Col. 3:12-13).

A marriage relationship takes work. You cannot expect a marriage to grow and thrive on autopilot because it will not. A Christian marriage is the uniting of two sinners saved by grace and this means there will be plenty of opportunity for confession and repentance. Be generous with forgiveness, remembering that you are completely unworthy of it yourself.

may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another…so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. 1 Thess. 3:12