How to Build a Happy Marriage
“A man . . . must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.”—GENESIS 2:24.
OUR Maker, Jehovah God, instituted marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman. Says Genesis 2:18, 22-24: “Jehovah God went on to say: ‘It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.’ And Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and to bring her to the man. Then the man said: ‘This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken.’ That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.”
True, building a lasting, happy marriage is not easy, but it is certainly possible. Many couples have been happily married for 50, 60, or more years. How do they do it? They work at their marriage continually and unselfishly to “gain the approval” of their mate. (1 Corinthians 7:33, 34) That takes work. If you are willing to invest the time and effort, you too can build a happy marriage, one that will last a long time.
Follow the Blueprint Carefully
A trustworthy contractor would never start construction without first consulting a drawing. Similarly, we cannot succeed in building a happy marriage without carefully consulting God’s blueprint for the project. It is found in the pages of God’s Word. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial . . . for setting things straight,” wrote the apostle Paul.—2 Timothy 3:16.
Husbands and wives can learn a great deal about marriage by considering how Jesus dealt with his disciples. How so? In the Bible the relationship between Jesus and those who will rule with him in heaven is likened to that between a man and his wife. (2 Corinthians 11:2) Jesus remained loyal to his associates, even during the most turbulent times. “He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) As a compassionate leader, Jesus always took into consideration the limitations and frailties of his followers. He never demanded of them more than they were able to do or give.—John 16:12.
Even when disappointed by his closest friends, Jesus remained gentle. He did not berate them, but, rather, with godly humility and kindness, he tried to readjust them. (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 14:34-38; John 13:5-17) Thus, if you examine closely the way Jesus tenderly treated his followers and the way they returned that expression of love to him, you will learn practical lessons on building a happy marriage.—1 Peter 2:21.
Build on a Solid Foundation
Inevitably, stormlike trials will lash at the foundation of your marriage. This will test the underpinnings of your relationship with your spouse. However, the sturdiest foundation on which to build a happy marriage is loyal commitment based on love. Jesus highlighted the importance of commitment when he said: “No one should separate a couple that God has joined together.” (Matthew 19:6, Contemporary English Version) The expression “no one” would include the man and his wife, who have vowed to remain faithful to each other.
Some may view commitment as burdensome, its demands and costs being too great. Today convenience usually wins out over the sacrifice involved in being committed to someone.
What can sustain marital commitment? The apostle Paul wrote: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:28, 29) In part, then, being “joined together” means that you feel as concerned about the welfare of your mate as you do about your own. Married people need to shift their thinking from “mine” to “ours,” from “me” to “we.”
Successfully weathering stormy attacks on your marriage will make you wise. Such acquired wisdom can result in happiness. “Happy is the man that has found wisdom,” notes Proverbs 3:13.
Use Fireproof Materials
For a house to last and be safe, it must be well built. Therefore, resolve to build your marriage with an eye to a lasting future. Use durable materials, the kind that can withstand fiery tests of your loyalty. Value as gold such precious qualities as godly wisdom, generosity, discernment, fear of God, warmth, loving appreciation for God’s laws, and genuine faith.
Happiness and contentment in marriage are not built on material possessions or secular advancement. They are built in the heart and mind, and these traits are strengthened by the truths from the Word of God. The exhortation “Let each one keep watching how he is building” can also be applied to marriage.—1 Corinthians 3:10.
When Problems Arise
For a building to stand the test of time, a good maintenance program is necessary. When husband and wife regularly support each other in their goals and when they show honor and respect for each other, their marriage is kept strong. Selfishness does not take root, and anger is kept under control.
Deep, unresolved anger and frustration can kill love and affection in a marriage. The apostle Paul counseled men: “You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.” (Colossians 3:19) The same principle applies to wives. When spouses strive to be considerate, kind, and understanding, they contribute to their happiness and contentment. Avoiding ill-tempered and confrontational behavior helps prevent conflict when difficulties do arise. “Become kind to one another,” urged Paul, “tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another.”—Ephesians 4:32.
What if feelings of powerlessness, exasperation, or being underappreciated cause annoyance? In a calm manner, state clearly to your mate the reason for your concern. However, it may be best to let love cover over minor matters.—1 Peter 4:8.
One husband, who has experienced several trials during his marriage of 35 years, says that no matter how angry you may feel toward your mate, you should “never stop talking.” He wisely adds, “Don’t ever stop loving.”
You Can Build a Happy Marriage!
True, building a happy marriage is not easy. However, when marriage mates are determined to work hard to include God in their union, happiness and security will result. Thus, watch closely the spiritual dimension in your family; have a rock-solid commitment to marriage. And remember that according to the words of Jesus, neither the husband nor the wife receives all the credit for a happy marriage. Rather, the credit primarily goes to the Originator of marriage, Jehovah God. “What God has yoked together let no man put apart.”—Matthew 19:6.
The book The Secret of Family Happiness, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, provides practical suggestions for building a happy and successful marriage. Hundreds of thousands of married couples around the world have found that its practical Bible-based advice has helped them improve the quality of their relationship.—See page 32 of this magazine.
[Box on page 9]
What Can Help You to Build a Happy Marriage?
[Pictures on page 7]
Follow God’s blueprint for marriage, found in the Bible
[Picture on page 7]
Make unselfish love and loyalty your solid foundation
[Pictures on page 8]
Develop spiritual qualities that can withstand fiery tests
[Pictures on page 8]
A good marriage needs to be maintained