What Does the Bible Have to Say about Marriage Problems?

What Does the Bible Have to Say about Marriage Problems?

Marriage is one of the most life-influencing relationships you will ever have. That’s why after you decide to receive Christ as your savior, the person you decide to marry is the next most important decision you will ever make in this life.

Being in a strong marriage can propel you. Being in a terrible marriage can destroy you. Some people never recover from the horrors of being in an awful marriage. However, regardless of how great the relationship may be, there can be moments when you will have marriage problems. Some of these problems are more severe than others and can stretch the limits of your marital commitment.

Nevertheless, if two people commit themselves to the Lord and each other, they can overcome any marriage problem. If a challenging situation should arise in your marriage, then what does the Bible say about marriage problems? In case you were wondering, there is a lot you can learn from the Bible about dealing with marriage problems.

Who Are Some People in the Bible Who Experience Marriage Problems?

There are different marital issues we see in the Bible. Sometimes, the problem was obvious; in others, not as much. Here are some people we know in the Bible that experienced marriage problems.

Abraham and Sarah: The Problem of Trusting God

The Bible commends Abraham for his faith, and rightfully so. Yet, despite his faith, there were moments when he and Sarah failed to trust God. On two occasions, Abraham identified Sarah as his sister (Genesis 12, 20). The Bible describes Sarah as a beautiful woman. On one occasion, when they were in Egypt, Abraham was afraid they would kill him but let her live because she was so beautiful (Genesis 12:11). His solution was to say Sarah was his sister. By the way, this happened after he had received the promise from God; Abraham still had his issues even after he began following God.

Abraham wasn’t the only one to suggest ideas that created problems. Later, we see Sarah giving her servant Hagar to Abraham to have a child with. It had been 13 years after God promised a great legacy with numerous children, and they did not have any. So, they tried to help God along—but as the story about Hagar and her son, Ishmael, shows, it did not solve anything. Abraham and Sarah were people of faith, but they were human. They had moments where they did not trust God or where they hurt each other.

Potiphar and his Wife: The Problem of Adultery

We know that Potiphar’s wife frequently tried to get Joseph to have sex with her (Genesis 39). We don’t know if there was a deeper issue that motivated this. Regardless, she had no problem committing adultery in her marriage.

Elkanah and Hannah: The Problem of Missed Desires

This couple is mentioned in 1 Samuel and are the parents of the prophet Samuel. Though Elkanah loved his wife, he missed the deep desire Hannah had within her to have children. He overlooked this and thought his love for her could overshadow this desire (1 Samuel 1:8).

Each of these stories shows a different marriage problem. Just as sometimes the problem was obvious, sometimes the solution was obvious. Other times, the problem and the solution were complex. Each story teaches us at least one clear lesson: marriage is an intimate relationship that can cause great pain or great joy.

What Does the Bible Say Make Marriage Problems So Damaging?

One reason marriage problems are so devastating is they can affect every area of your life. When you are having marriage problems, it can affect your work life, home life, and friendships. If children are involved, it most likely will spill over to them too.

Some people have marriage problems so challenging they even look forward to being out of the home. Those moments become a temporary escape from their situation. That’s why it is crucial to choose who you marry carefully and prayerfully and not take it lightly. Listen to this proverb that highlights the challenge of marriage problems.

“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9)

Marriage is the joining of two people into one union, both physically and spiritually. That’s why marriage problems that threaten this union are so dangerous. When marriages break beyond repair, it is like tearing apart two intertwined lives.

What Advice Does the Bible Give for Handling Marriage Problems?

There is a wealth of advice you can find throughout the Bible about how to handle marriage problems. There are far too many to fit into one article, but let me share three. Even doing these three things will go a long way to helping you address any problem in your marriage.

1. Talk less and listen more

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

When there is a problem, there can be a tendency to want to find an immediate solution. However, sometimes, before you get to the solution, you need to make sure you understand the problem. This is where listening will help. You have probably heard the old saying God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak. If you will listen to understand what your spouse is trying to say to you, it will transform your marriage.

2. Don’t let things that trouble you linger

“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26)

Silence can be devastating in a marriage if one spouse is unwilling to share some of their frustrations with the other spouse. If you are around someone long enough, there will be something they say or do that you may not like or even annoy you (yes, this happens in the best of marriages). You must share these things, especially if they make you angry. Holding them in only drives a wedge between you and your spouse. In addition, it is unfair to the other spouse if they don’t know something they are doing is bothering you. By identifying it, you give them the ability to fix it.

3. Forgive quickly

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

No marital relationship can survive without forgiveness. In every marriage, there will be a moment where you do something that offends or hurts your spouse, even if you didn’t intend to. When that occurs, two things must happen. One person must apologize, and the other party must forgive. If either person neglects these steps, the marriage moves toward failure. Imagine if God stopped forgiving you. That would be the end of your relationship. A marital relationship (or any relationship) is no different.

How Does the Bible Advise to Keep Marriage Problems From Happening?

Solving marriage problems after they begin is one thing. Preventing them from happening is a better option. Thankfully, the Bible offers advice on how to keep marriage problems from happening. Again, the Bible says a lot, but let me limit it to three.

1. Be willing to have honest conversations

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Ephesians 4:25)

The best thing you can do in your marriage is to speak honestly to each other. You will not always like what your partner says, but it can help prevent potential problems. Honest talk should not be meanspirited, but it should be authentic. Yes, the truth may sometimes hurt (me and my wife can attest to this). However, it can prevent future marriage problems from developing.

2. Don’t Keep Records of Wrongdoings

“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Your marriage must be a safe space to have honest communication. Part of the communication could involve asking for forgiveness. When this happens, forgiveness should be the end of bringing up that issue. As challenging as it may be, make it a point not to hold that issue against your partner. When you let go of the record, you treat your spouse like God.

3. Be willing to seek help if you need it

“Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14)

For most people, we are learning how to build our marriages while we are in them. This means there may be times when you need help. That is okay. There is nothing wrong with getting counsel, especially if you see a potential issue that could develop in your marriage. Taking preventative measures has the potential to save you a lot of future heartaches.

Final Thought on the Bible’s Advice about Marriage Problems

I pray you will have a long, happy, and prosperous marriage if you are married. Just know it will not be without its challenges along the way. When you hit those bumps, remember what the Bible says about marriage problems. It has a wealth of knowledge, and regardless of the problem, there is an answer to help you.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/gorodenkoff

Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com. 

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