Christian Marriage Advice for Experiencing Real Relationship

Christian Marriage Advice

After being married for nearly 17 years, I have some Christian marriage advice for couples.

We sure don’t have it all figured out, but we have learned that experiencing real relationship in a Christian marriage takes work, thought and good, Biblical advice.

Jeremy and I were married on Labor Day weekend in 2001.

Since that time, we’ve moved around the world, had 3 kids, ran a marathon and worked to join 2 lives.

We had similar upbringings and church backgrounds, yet we both see things through very different filters.

We’ve argued and fought over almost everything.

No one told us how difficult marriage can be.

We were never told how hard it is to create a relationship built on honor, respect, truth and true love.

We needed a good strong conversation that gave us marriage advice for how real a Christian marriage would be in the throws of daily life.

Although if someone did tell us those things, we might not have heard them. Because we were experiencing new love.

A few years into our marriage, we read a book called “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. {A book I highly recommend for marriage advice!}

He asks an interesting question on the cover of his book.

“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

Christian Marriage Advice for Experiencing Real Relationship

Think about that. Is marriage only about being happy?

What if in the process of creating that happy atmosphere, we are forced to grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally?

We have to mature in these areas to make a strong marriage.

Now, I know I’m flawed in many areas. I like to have control. I like to be on time and stick to a schedule. I have learned since being married, that I have a lot of ideas about what is “the man’s” jobs in a household. I learned that I had high expectations and didn’t really allow time for growth. Yeah. Not good when you first get married. Jeremy is relaxed. He loves adventure. He collects things… lots of things. He doesn’t like to get rid of anything. He doesn’t handle crying babies well. And, he can sleep through anything.

Anybody know what I’m talking about?

Marriage teaches you the greatest faults of yourself and the person you are married to. At that point, love is a choice and honoring your commitment becomes the most important thing you can ever do.

Gary Thomas, a great person for marriage advice, says it like this. “While many people fight to receive respect, Christian marriage calls us to focus our efforts on giving respect. We are called to honor someone even when we know all too well their deepest character flaws. We are called to stretch ourselves, to find out how we can learn to respect this person with whom we’ve become so familiar.”

Christian Marriage Advice for Experiencing Real Relationship

I’m one to confront “character flaws” head on. When I see something that is bothering me, Jeremy and I will end up in this huge discussion. For a while, we point fingers at each other, throwing words around. Then, we talk about the problem, dig into why we did what we did.

Then, we come up with a plan. What can I do to to make sure this doesn’t happen again? And, if it does, how am I going to handle it? Sometimes it takes hours, but in the end, we both have a better understanding for the other person. A feeling of empathy or compassion happens.

The book gives Christian marriage advice for taking the time to learn more about your spouse. “We are married in the midst of many responsibilities that compete for our energy. This new understanding has ushered a stronger empathy for each other in our weaknesses and peculiarities… Instead of focusing your energy on resentment over how sparsely your spouse understands you, expend your efforts to understand him.”

We have to remember the effects of the Fall. Genesis 3 records the fall of man.

In “Sacred Marriage“, Gary talks about how we were created with “an understanding of what pre-fall days were like – in other words, we know what relationships should be like, but we are incapable of making them perfectly in tune with that ideal.”

Why? We live in a fallen world with fallen people. Something that can be very hard to grasp in a Christian marriage.

Our relationships aren’t happening in the garden where perfection and peace reign. It’s guaranteed that your spouse will sin against you, disappoint you and have limitations that will disappoint you. Even with the best intentions, we will still fall short. Here is the reality and what we need to learn about making our Christian marriage not only happy, but holy as well.

Gary Thomas says this about his wife. “I want her to become all that Jesus calls her to become, and I hope with all my heart that I will be a positive factor in her pursuit of that aim. But she will never fully get there this side of heaven, so I must love and accept her in the reality of our lives in a sin-stained world.

Such amazing, valid Christian marriage advice for couples.

He also says this. “Contempt is born when we fixate on our spouse’s weaknesses. Every spouse has these sore points. If you want to find them, without a doubt, you will. If you want to obsess about them, they’ll grow – but YOU won’t! Jesus provides a remedy that is stunning in its simplicity yet foreboding in its difficulty. He tells us to take the plank out of our own eye before we try to remove the speck from our neighbor’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)”

So, I have a challenge for you.

Write down the things you see in your spouse that are good. Change your focus from the negative to the positive. Work on the plank in your eye and stop obsessing about the faults in your spouse.

What a challenge for us all.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us or journal them for yourself, but start noticing the good in your spouse each day.

You just might mature in the process.

Like the daily marriage challenge?

Check out Part 1 and Part 2!




  1. I love the comments! thanks girls! Melissa, thanks for sharing your 27 year story! You and Mark are so precious and I’m thankful for your example. Mindy, I know… I totally forget to acknowledge what a great dad Jeremy is and what a blessing he is to our family. And Caroline… isn’t that true? You enter marriage with these expectations that are bound to lead to disappointment. But, thankfully, God turns our marriage into something greater than we imagined when we focus on Him. Keep the thoughts coming!

  2. What a great topic to be talking about! Brian and I will have been married 10 years this December. I had not idea what marriage was all about – even though at 22 I thought I was soooo mature and knew a lot. Our pre-marriage counselor warned Brian and I that we had too high of expectations on what marriage was. I thought at that time “Aren’t high expectations good? Won’t that pull out the best in both of us?” The problem was there was a lot of disappointment in the beginning – because these expectations weren’t communicated – and they were a bit unrealistic! 🙂 We have worked through a lot and still are – but I am more in love with Brian today than I was the day I married him. I love him more because I see him love God more and more. I love the fact that God is the center in our lives – we would not be who we are as individuals and as couples if it wasn’t for the Lord.
    “Happily Ever After” as Hollywood portrays it doesn’t show how what happens after the couple rides off into the sunset… it doesn’t show living life. I look back at our wedding day and I have so many fond memories – but I can’t live in that moment – I have to live in the moment of today – and that my husband kissed me before he left for work and that I can’t wait for him to come home so that I can hug him and maybe (most likely) we will have some sort of disagreement today but we will get over it and move past it – and focus on what matters the most and that is that Christ is the center of our lives.

  3. Great newsletter! I know that I needed to be reminded not to focus on the negative. I too often take my husband forgranted. He tells me that he loves me and that I a beautiful everyday. He is incredibly creative and smart and a fun and wonderful daddy. I don’t tell him often enough that I appreciate all of these things. Thanks for sharing this with us Jenilee.

  4. This newsletter is so close to my heart! Mark and I have been married for 28 years and just this past year, I have come to the realization of what you are sharing today. I always believed growing up that marriage was all about the other person making you happy and meeting your needs. Getting married at 17 years old, well, what more can I say other than you are quite nieve at that age. But I have to tell you, when you stick it out, no matter what trials come your way, you remain committed to your spouse but most importantly Christ and the covenant you have made to Him, oh do the blessings come 🙂 Our marriage today exceeds every expectation I had as a young girl who fell in love with her high school sweetheart. It is so awesome to be married to this wonderful man, who loves Christ and wants to serve Him well and who loves me so deeply, aside all of the faults I have displayed over the years. I have heard repeatedly that our relationship with our husband is a reflection of our relationship to Jesus. The marriage relationship exists to help us become more like Christ. When God is the center of your union together and you both are striving to be all God intends for you to be, life is SO good and rich! My marriage has become the second most important relationship to me, with my first priority being to Jesus Christ. This is a just learned thing too because my kids were always 1st and what dangerous waters I was treading heading down that path. Praise the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and now I can say with great Joy, my husband is my best friend, my love. Thank you Jesus for this wonderful blessing of marriage.

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