Eight Habits of a Healthy Marriage
1. The first habit of a Healthy Marriage Jesus described is being “poor in spirit.”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). Being poor in spirit speaks of realizing our need for God. It’s realizing that in terms of my spiritual assets, I am broke. My spiritual bank account is overdrawn- I’m spiritually bankrupt. Applied to my marriage, it’s realizing that I don’t have the power and the wisdom in and of myself to make my marriage work. To have a healthy marriage, I need God and I need to follow His plan daily. The opposite is an attitude that is self-sufficient and prideful- I don’t need God or anyone else. Pride wreaks all kinds of problems in an otherwise healthy marriage- it keeps us from admitting we’re wrong, and it keeps us from admitting that we need God’s strength and guidance. Being “poor in spirit” is having an honest and realistic appraisal of yourself spiritually apart from God.
2. The second habit Jesus described is spiritual mourning: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (V4)”Spiritual mourning” is our sense of brokenness before God and follows logically from the first, “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). When we begin to see our spiritual bankruptcy and realize our sinfulness and selfishness we mourn. First over our sin against God, then over the ways, we hurt our spouse. It’s a repentant, godly sorrow for our sins. “For godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Jesus says there is a special blessing- happiness for those who live a life of repentance, who have a sense of sorrow for their transgressions. “Spiritual mourning” is fundamental to a restored fellowship and intimacy with God and our spouse. This kind of mourning leads us to repentance and confession. It is by repentance and confession that a healthy marriage thrives. When was the last time you mourned over how you hurt your mate, or how you sinned against God? Do you need to confess anything to God or your spouse? If so, why not do it right now?
3. The third habit Jesus described is meekness. He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. (Matt. 5:5)
Flashy business tycoons like Donald Trump and self-focused entertainers like Madonna are celebrated in our culture today. Adoring fans marvel at their every act and wish they could lead such fabulous lives. Words like ‘meekness’ being strong but tender-hearted and humble are not part of the popular language. Yet, in his ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ Jesus speaks of a great reward for those who are meek. “Meekness” is a humble and gentle strength, which only comes through submission to God. An example of this character trait is found in Jesus Himself: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
The opposite of meekness is arrogant aggressiveness. This trait is not conducive to a healthy marriage. It has a severe impact on marriage. The meek spouse does not retaliate when wronged, knowing there is a great reward in store. The meek spouse is well on their way to a healthy marriage. When husbands and wives exhibit meekness, they will have an immediate reward in their marriage.
How did you react in your last marital argument, with meekness or with anger? How will you express meekness in your next marital conflict? Be specific and ask God right now to help you acquire this powerful quality.
4. The fourth habit Jesus describes is having a spiritual hunger: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
Notice He didn’t say-“blessed are those who hunger and thirst.” We all have hunger and thirst- not just physically, but a deep yearning within our souls that seeks satisfaction and fulfillment. We desire to have a healthy marriage. Something within us longs for it. And all of us, in one way or another insist on finding it in our ways. We pursue empty avenues of fulfillment apart from God. Yet nothing apart from God can give us lasting satisfaction and fulfillment.
Satan is a master of counterfeit. He capitalizes on our hunger and thirst by tempting us with limitless opportunities for phony, yet appealing satisfaction. But we must remember, our hunger and thirst for fulfillment and true happiness can only be found in our creator God, through pursuing, day-by-day a personal, intimate relationship with Him.
In John4: 13-14, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but the water that I give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” If we hunger and thirst after Him and His righteousness, we will be filled, our marriages will be blessed and we can experience a healthy marriage. As our intimacy with God grows deeper, our marriages become richer. Do you hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness? If not, ask Him to whet your appetite for His righteousness. He promises to fill you.
5. The fifth habit Jesus describes as “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” Matt. 5:7
Being merciful means being committed to embracing forgiveness. In your marriage, it means that you are committed to making a choice every time a wrong occurs, to extend mercy to your mate by affirming your forgiveness. It’s being committed to regarding your mate’s wrongs toward you in the same way that Christ does- He sees and treats your mate’s wrongs with forgiveness.
You are a merciful spouse when you realize your sinful nature, and see the harmful impact of an unforgiving attitude. When you truly understand the magnitude of your forgiveness in Christ you will be compassionate toward failure in your spouse. Nothing is more important to marriage than forgiveness. Bitterness and an unwillingness to forgive will destroy the relationship. Forgiveness heals, gives hope, and brings renewed love to marriage. Forgiveness breeds a healthy marriage.
6. The sixth habit Jesus described in Matt. 5:7 Purity: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
As our culture moves further away from its original foundation on biblical morality, more and more people have little idea of what the words “pure,” “holy,” or “godly” really means. Immorality and deceitfulness cannot coexist with a pure heart. Purity is a condition of the heart that involves one’s mind (what one thinks about) and will (what one chooses to do). When a person is single-minded in his or her love and commitment to Christ, this outward commitment results in inward purity.
Many marriages are characterized by spouses who easily commit immoral and unrighteous acts without conviction or accountability. But the spouse with a pure heart will not live by a double standard. The standard for purity is the righteousness of Christ. “What would Jesus do in this situation?” A spouse who is walking in purity can be trusted, both publicly and privately, to do what is right and honorable in a healthy marriage. It is this lifestyle of trust that is so necessary for a successful marriage. This requires a single-mindedness in our commitment to please Christ in our thoughts and actions and can lead to a healthy marriage.
7. Peaceable: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
We all know that conflict within a marriage is inevitable. Some people think peace is the absence of conflict. But peace is more than just the absence of conflict- it’s the presence of righteousness. And nothing brings more blessing to a healthy marriage than a spouse who is a peacemaker. Instead of delighting in the division, bitterness, and strife, the peacemaker spouse diligently seeks to make peace whenever possible. How?
A peacemaker spouse is quick to seek and grant forgiveness. A peacemaker’s spouse seeks ways to come together in agreement and look for solutions where both parties win, not where one wins and the other loses. They think of the needs of their mate and promote harmony in a healthy marriage. They try to find opportunities for agreement, and not always disagree. A peacemaker looks for things in common, not differences. Love is their motivation, not anger or meanness. Are you characterized as a peacemaker in your marriage?
8. The eighth habit Jesus describes for a healthy marriage is persecution.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Matthew 5:10
Perhaps today this beatitude could read: “Blessed are those who are made fun of or ridiculed for openly living for righteousness, and following the principles and values of their Christian faith.” Jesus said there is a great reward for those who stand out because of their faith rather than hiding their righteousness to avoid discomfort.
As couples, Jesus wants us to live our lives righteously and boldly for Him, to be a light to our friends, to our children, and our children’s friends, to our extended families, and to our neighbors as well. His desire for us is to have a healthy marriage too. Sometimes this will result in some form of persecution- rejection or ridicule. If and when it does, you will be blessed.
These principles Jesus gives us are not anything like the conventional wisdom of our day, but if we put them into practice, we can be assured they will indeed form the foundation for a truly great, healthy marriage.