If you want to avoid getting into a miserable marriage, here are 4 biblical principles that can help you.
1. Do Not Let Yourself Get Attached to Someone If You Already Know You Should Not Marry Them
Perhaps the biggest reason for miserable marriages is that people allowed themselves to get attached to someone they knew was not good for them in the first place.
It’s common for people to think, “I know this person is not marriage material, but it can’t hurt to just hang out.” That’s a false statement. It can actually hurt you a lot if you start spending time with someone you know you should not be close to. You can try to resist it, but if you dabble in romance with this person, you will always get attached to them.
1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” We are tempted to think we are the exception. This is why Paul said, “Do not be deceived.” In other words, none of us are the exception. God’s warnings will always be relevant to all of us. If we ignore them, we will always get burned.
2. Do Not Get Into a Relationship with an Argumentative Person
Before Paul gives specific instructions to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33, he said in Ephesians 5:21 (NIV), “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” In Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s commentary on this verse, he wrote:
Self-assertion is the very antithesis of what the Apostle is saying [in Ephesians 5:21] . . . Yet another way of putting it is to say that the Christian must never be opinionated. A Christian has, and must have, opinions; but he must never be opinionated. What a difference there is between a man who has opinions, good opinions, strong opinions, and the man who is opinionated – self-conscious and proud of his opinion! We must never be opinionated because that again is another manifestation of self . . . Opinionated people always cause clashes.”
People who view the world through a critical lens will always find something to criticize. When you look for problems, you will always find them. Happy marriages are not perfect marriages. Two imperfect people will always have issues they are working on. You can only be happy in marriage if you look at each other through the lens of true love and grace.
As Proverbs 21:9 says of the argumentative spouse, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”
3. Wait to Get Into a Relationship Until You Are a Happy Individual
If you were to ask someone, “Why do you want to be married one day?” they will most likely say, “I just want to be happy.” When we are lonely or sad, our minds often imagine how much better we would feel if we could be in a relationship. “If I could just find my person,” we say to ourselves, “then I would finally be happy.”
If you are looking for your spouse because you want to be happy one day, you will probably end up in a very miserable marriage. Why? Because the qualities in marriage that result in emotional satisfaction never start with the self. The happiest of marriages are formed by two people who are happy in Christ and want to offer sacrificial love to each other (Acts 20:35).
When you go to another person with the word “I” always on the tip of your tongue, you’re headed down the wrong road. Yes, your spouse should make you happy. But not in the ultimate sense. If you are not a happy person deep in your heart already, no person will be able to solve this heart issue.
Psalm 16:2, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy other things besides God. Rather, it means that if you are not fully satisfied in God first, nothing else will be enjoyable either.
If you want to avoid a miserable marriage, you have to be happy in Christ regardless of your relationship status (Philippians 4:4).
4. Only Marry Someone If You Both Are Pleased With Each Other Right Now
In other words, never marry someone who you are trying to change; and never marry someone who needs you to change.
Yes, throughout marriage, the husband and wife will change. God wants to use your spouse to help you keep growing. However, it is unbiblical to marry someone based upon potential. Notice the clarity in which Paul makes this point, “she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Paul didn’t say she is free to marry anyone who is nice, respectful, or accepting of her religious beliefs. The Bible states a Christian must choose a spouse who belongs to the Lord right now.
If you choose to be with someone because they have potential and not because they have biblical qualities right now, you are basically choosing to be with someone for imaginary reasons. Potential is not reality. It’s a hope that may or may not actually occur.
Gambling on love is crazy. The odds are always against you. Only marry when your reasons for marriage are rooted in reality. If you marry someone who has a glaring issue that needs to change in order for you to be happy, you will be miserable. If you marry someone who needs to you be someone you are not, you will be miserable.
A joyful Christian marriage requires the husband and wife to both be true Christians right now.