October 29, 2020

Marriage Proverbs for Clay and Taylor

I’ve been studying Proverbs with my Advanced Bible class. I thought I’d write a few for my newlywed son and his wife, and invite the IM audience to add their own. (Keep them short.)

“Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church” is the most humbling word that God will ever speak to you.

Spiritual leadership is easy to talk about and almost impossible to find. In the end,it amounts to being like Jesus.

Don’t bring into marriage the same idea of marriage you had when you were single. Learn about marriage from those who have lived it and the One who designed it.

At all cost, avoid credit cards. The seduction of living above your means is incredibly easy, and must be fought with an all or nothing attitude.

Find a church community where you are encouraged to follow Jesus and become a vital and active part. God has hundreds of blessings for you among his people that you will never experience if you choose to avoid the church.

Read together. Especially read out loud to one another.

Read about marriage, and do so with a humble attitude. You know very little and most of what you know is wrong.

Marriage is like a third person; like a child that has brought you together. It has its own power, but you have to nurture, care for and protect it, or it will grow weak, sick or even die.

Be careful with friendships that challenge your ability to trust and be open with one another. No one is closer to you than your husband/wife. Friendships are different than marriage, but they can never be more intimate.

Ditto for on-line friendships. Be very conservative with online relationships of any kind.

Spend time with an older couple. Several decades older, if possible. You’ll see things that will make a very important difference right now.

Admit that being in love and learning how to love a real human being all the time are different things.

The atmosphere in a marriage is a matter of small things done consistently in love, not large things done to make up for failures.

Stay together, no matter what God asks you to deal with.

“I assumed” is the culprit of far too many unnecessary arguments. Don’t allow assumptions to direct your words and responses.

You don’t need to have a major problem to benefit from talking to a counselor or pastor about your relationship or your personal journey.

Be careful about having so many single friends that you aren’t seeing constant reminders of what it means to be married.

A person can feel neglected easily, and when they feel neglected, the only answer is to pay attention (and often, to say you are sorry, and mean it.)

Don’t talk about your sexual relationship with anyone but your spouse or counselor/pastor.

Establish some routines that contribute to enjoying married life without a lot of spending. Netflix and dinner at home, for instance.

Pray and read scripture together. Use a resource that will make this easier, like the Book of Common Prayer lectionary.

Laugh at yourselves, but don’t ever belittle one another.

Words really do hurt, and much more so in marriage.

Remember what you promised to be and to do.

Learn to forgive your families for having a hard time believing you are adults. When you have children of your own, you will understand. It will take a long time to really let go.

Don’t compare yourself to other married couples, especially in the area of finances. In our culture, so many people are living far above their means that prosperity is an illusion. Seek happiness, blessing and contentment, not prosperity.

Don’t try to get wealthy overnight. Instead, save a little from every check. (Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey.)

Don’t get in a hurry for a house, kids or anything that needs to come in God’s time.

If you have an addiction, deal with it. Don’t hide it. Get help before the addiction progressively attacks your marriage by destroying your ability to love and be loved.

Married life is full of surprises and disappointments. You can’t anticipate either, but you can be prepared for both.

Forgiveness in marriage is the greatest gift you can give. Be sure that you do not presume the gift will arrive automatically, no matter the offense.

Becoming family doesn’t happen in a day, or a month or a year, or even many years. But it’s always happened before you realize it.

Never letting the sun go down on your anger may not always be possible, but it is a goal that will repay all your efforts.

The joys of married life are amazingly simple. Make lots of room for them.

Scripture is right in everything it says about marriage; its descriptions, commands, advice and warnings. But it is never more true than when it tells you to DELIGHT in your spouse.


  1. Don’t think I’ve done all of these. I’ve learned that I should have done them. I thank God that Denise has forgiven me for neglecting so much and doing so little.

  2. Clay and Taylor,

    I’m a little older than you two (22, and my husband is 26) and we’ve been married four years. We got much of this advice when we first got married and had excellent examples in our lives. We listened, and I can honestly say marriage has been amazing. This list is wonderful wisdom, and I pray you listen, follow it, and that God will knit you together in wonderful love. I don’t have any advice other than to say I’ve never felt more cherished than when I know my husband is sacrificing something he wants for the good of the family. If you both strive to be as unselfish as possible, you’ll be amazed at how your marriage will benefit.

    Grace and Peace of the Lord.

  3. Stan Hankins says

    The council to stay out of debt is vital. One of the worst things a young couple can do is to become a slave to debt. And I would add this: Try not to say things to each other in anger, even if you feel justified.
    Grace and peace

  4. Many years ago when my husband & I started to believe that there was really something to this “proactive marriage counseling” deal, our counselor (who happens to be a pastor)told us that every night he “washes” his wife “with water through the Word” – He suggested that my husband read from the bible to me every night, even if it’s just a short passage. This is really a very wonderful habit, and it makes it really hard to go to bed angry if you’ve had a disagreement!

    Peace & Blessings!

  5. AoibhinnGrainne says

    Don’t squander time. You do not know how much time you have, and, at your age, believe you have all the time in the world. My late Husband, God bless him, believed we had retirement (at age 60…commercial airline pilot) to catch up.

    Not so much. He died 4 years ago at age 50.

    So treasure each moment of each day you’ve been given.

    May God bless you on your lifetime journey!

  6. Admit that being in love and learning how to love a real human being all the time are different things.

    quite possibly the understatement of all time

    I “knew this” before marrying (12 yrs ago)….but not really

    Greg R

  7. Love each other as though this may be your last day together. Set goals together for at least the next 50 years. Forgive each other when you fail.
    We’ve been married for 43 years and we’re still working on it.

  8. monk,
    I have copied your suggestions to my marriage/wedding folder. Good stuff. Wife and I will be celebrating 42 in a couple of weeks. Thank the Lord she understood much of your list early on–I wish I had put some of the list into practice much earlier in our marriage. Praise God, she put up with me until I started getting it right. Ah, but I need to revisit good info. like you gave from time to time, still.

  9. Make your own traditions together (not just holiday traditions but everyday things, too). In other words, don’t say or imply to your spouse that “we have to do it THIS way because that is how mom and dad always did it”. Plan together how to do things your way, everything from loading the dishwasher to putting up the Christmas tree.

  10. Two things:
    1. Self-control.
    2. The only person you can change is yourself.

  11. Hold your tongue. Really listen.

    If you haven’t done it, have fun one afternoon taking one of those personality tests/assessments together. Discuss. : )

  12. Former SBC'r says

    Advice from my grandparents. (Married once, for life and for over 50 years.)

    Mature love is not a feeling ~ but a verb.

    “When a dark hour or day comes, (and they will), cling to this truth and pray for the grace and strength to do it ~ (love the other as a verb), even when they’re wrong and your right or they won’t or can’t love you the way you want to be loved ~ endlessly (if need be) fall on your sword and love them.”

    My very best wishes to you two for a lifetime of both growth and joy!!!

  13. Funnily enough, I’d just seen on another site quotations from Chesterton on marriage:

    “The principle is this: that in everything worth having, even in every pleasure, there is a point of pain or tedium that must be survived, so that the pleasure may revive and endure. The joy of battle comes after the first fear of death; the joy of reading Virgil comes after the bore of learning him; the glow of the sea-bather comes after the icy shock of the sea bath; and the success of the marriage comes after the failure of the honeymoon. All human vows, laws, and contracts are so many ways of surviving with success this breaking point, this instant of potential surrender…The two must hold each other to do justice to each other. If Americans can be divorced for “incompatibility of temper” I cannot conceive why they are not all divorced. I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.”

    ‘The success of the marriage comes after the failure of the honeymoon’ and ‘A happy marriage is not the same as a compatible marriage’ aren’t bad principles to remember, when the inevitable ‘my wife/husband doesn’t understand me!’ moment comes.

    Good luck and the blessings of God on you both!

  14. “Marriage was ordained for the mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have for another . . . conversations and jokes together, mutual rendering of good services, the reading together of sweetly phrased books, the sharing of nonsense and mutual attentions. – Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels

  15. There are no chores that are “women’s work” so do the dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming, clean the bathroom. Without griping.

    Give lots of great hugs and wonderful back massages without expecting anything in return.

    Deal with problems directly and immediately as they come up.

    Don’t keep bringing up mistakes made in the past. It’s the past. Let it go.

    Don’t do what I did. (JoanieD: Chapter 10, verse 5) 😉

  16. I seriously doubt that either of you are mind readers, so you must tell each other what you are thinking/feeling/needing/expecting. TALK to each other!

    I also strongly advise you to avoid credit cards; we have lived without them for 16 years. Pay cash or wait until you can.

    Show affection every day; hold hands in the car, touch in passing — it’s the little things that add up.

    I pray God’s blessing on you both.

  17. MAJ Rowe says

    Ephesians 5 summarized is husbands love your wives, wives respect your husbands. It works. I have learned that one way to practically love my bride is to complement her publicly. For some reason this makes it easier to “delight” in the wife of your youth. It took me many years to learn to refer to her as “my bride”, she appreciates that. Living with her in “understanding” (1 Pe 3)does not mean that you will actually understand everything that motivates/fears/humors her, it does mean that you will try and that when she goes into those excruciatingly detailed highlights of her day that you will make yourself listen and learn how to relate/respond. Pray fervently for her.

  18. Wonderful advice, I wish I would have had these 20 years ago. But trial, and error and a wife with more grace and love than I deserve, let me see the wisdom of these now.

  19. The best marital advice we received:

    – Co-mingle your assets.

    – Have a rule: If one asks “What’s wrong,” and the other answers “Nothing,” the person who asked has the right to believe that nothing is wrong. In other words, don’t ever play the game of “I’m going to make you guess why I’m angry” or (worse) “If you really loved me you’d know why I’m angry.”

    – There’s no convenient time for babies.

  20. No undercover undermining. Don’t use cheap agreement to end a tedious or uncomfortable conversation, then negate what you “agreed” to, either by action or inaction.

    No guerrilla warfare. If one of you must fight the other–and if you both have strong personalities, this may wind up being the case–go out into the open field to do it. You owe this to each other: it’s part of the “honor” part of the vows. (If you can’t take the fight out onto a level playing field, then you need to re-examine what the fight is for.)

    It can be sheer hell, or at any rate, purgatory. All the more so because the prevailing of marriage is not considered the norm any more–there used to be support and examples all around us, but this isn’t the case now. Make no mistake–God’s grace in this often goes hand-in-glove with your own very, very hard work and perhaps a great deal of suffering.

    But if you cause it to prevail, it will all the more undergird your confidence in general–because it is a victory, for you, your kids, your community, your society.

  21. Memphis Aggie says

    Always take your problems to your spouse first, don’t complain to friends or parents.

  22. Agreed. By avoiding debt, not only do you avoid much unnecessary stress on your life together, you also keep the door for potential opportunities wide open.

    By avoiding the bonds of debt, a couple has a greater opportunity to follow the calling of the Holy Spirit. In my new marriage, we have made a commitment to avoiding almost all debt. The only debt we would consider is for are items that increase in value – like a home. By only owing a limited amount on items that increase in value, we are always in a position where we could liquidate all of our assets and follow a call (if presented with the opportunity). If we found ourselves in a situation of being “upside down” on a car for example – something that decreases in value – we would not have this freedom. We would be in bondage to the lender of that automobile and subsequently have less freedom.

  23. treebeard says

    Great advice. Heed it all.
    My own:

    Deal with offenses as quickly as you can. DO NOT let offenses accumulate and fester. DO NOT assume your spouse can read your mind. DO NOT take things too personally. DO NOT rehearse old offenses in your daydreams. Talk honestly about what offended you as soon as you can. If you’re on the receiving end, apologize with sincerity.

    Do your best to be kind, tender, gentle, and compassionate, even if it is not reciprocated.

    Read Stormie Omartian’s books, and pray the written prayers with your own elaborations.

  24. Dana Ames says

    Practice rigorous honesty, as far as possible in any given moment. Think of how vulnerable the Lord became in the Incarnation. Figure out why things upset you (and it is *not* about the other person). This is maturity.

    Corollary to don’t assume:
    Ask questions; the other person can’t read your mind, as much as you think you would sometimes like him/her to be able to…

    Talk about the things that are most important to you.

    As wonderful as marriage is, as high as its intimacy is, both our “secular” and our Christian cultures tend to make it the be-all and end-all of this life. In that light,
    1)Reality is that no one person can “meet all your needs” or “be everything” to you, not even your spouse. Try to steer clear of seeing your relationship in terms of “needs” or “roles”- such a thing pushes what was meant to give life into a legalistic box.
    2) Try not to see your spouse as an extension of yourself; he/she is not. You each get to have your own opinions, preferences, etc. You will not always agree on everything. This is healthy.
    3) Make some time for an interest/hobby of your own; spouse can participate, or not.
    4) Each married couple/family unit exists in a community, whether they recognize that or not; we are not on our own. We need appropriate relationships with others.

    May God bless you with contentment and peace.


  25. Savannah says

    Serve each other according to your giftedness, not according to some predetermined “rules for roles”. God has gifted each of you – if you haven’t figured out what those gifts are, then it can be fun to work on that together.

    You’ll spend a lifetime “figuring out” your mate. My husband of 27 years still has the ability to surprise me, and I’m always delighted to learn something new about him. One thing we found helpful early on was Meyers-Briggs personality testing. There is no doubt that each person is hard-wired to a certain degree. Once you figure out the other person’s circuitry, you will stop expecting that person to provide you with something that just may not be in their repertoire.

    The Four Spiritual Temperament stuff is okay, but it’s not quite as good at really drilling down to specific personality traits. I suggest Meyers-Briggs followed up by Four Temperament study.

    Love your spouse for who he/she is. The Holy Spirit can make changes, but you cannot.

    May the Lord richly bless you both!

  26. Great advice, especially about the debt. Consider a shared email account.

  27. Two things:

    1. Being right isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Better to speak the truth in love.

    2. (I have no idea who originated this but I love it) Truth without love is Brutality but love without truth is Hipocrisy.

    Bless you both

  28. One proverb to live by is Thomas Howard’s repeated refrain

    “My life for yours”.

    This always applies in Gospel-shaped marriages. It applies to husbands and wives, to parents and children, to siblings. It applies to work, housework, finances, sex, and deciding where to live. The essence of our common life is that I give my life for yours and you give your life for mine. In very rare cases this may mean that I will literally die for you. Most of the time, however, it means mundane things like doing the dishes, making sandwiches and helping a child with homework when I might refer to watch TV.

    By all means read Thomas Howard’s Hallowed Be This House.

    Blessings on you both!


  29. Never hand your spouse a book to fix what’s wrong with him/her. Ever!

  30. Read “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Van Auken. He includes letters from his friend C.S. Lewis. Powerful, well-written book about marriage and sacrifice.

    Rarely have I cried as hard as I did while reading that book.

    To him: realize and understand that she probably processes things by talking through them, and that she is not making a final decision just because she said she wanted to do a certain thing.

    To her: realize that just because he is not saying anything at the time does not mean that he is not thinking about the issue at hand. He is merely processing mentally and then will speak his final decision. Don’t be offended because he doesn’t talk as much as you, or may not be as articulate as you are.

    This advice is general and can be switched according to the personality of each partner. But in my family the men tend to be intelligent, but quieter, and the women tend to be intelligent and rather verbose. Misunderstandings can occur in such incidents.

  31. I think the advice to avoid debt (heh…at all costs?) is good advice, but I think the advice in absolute terms to not get a credit card is a bad advice.

    If you have the discipline to stick to a budget, then using a credit card to make budget purchases (and pay it off in full each period) can be a very easy way to build good credit, and some cards actually provide rewards that have cash value of some kind (advantage miles, or even “cash back”). Those programs aren’t going to change anyone’s financial situation significantly, but it’s also not nothing.

    If you don’t have the budget discipline, then get a credit card with a low limit and use it for some dedicated, regular, fixed purchase such as a utility bill or gasoline. Of course, paying off the debt each month is required, or this is a bad idea.

    For example – I will soon be able to take my wife on a vacation abroad because I have thousands upon thousands of advantage miles accumulated through routine purchases of groceries and gasoline and whatnot. Removing the cost of airfare from the price of a vacation makes it much, much easier to afford (a few hundred $$ is more than enough for a week long vacation in Asia or even Europe if you don’t have to pay for the flight). There’s certainly value in being able to spend dedicated vacation time with one’s wife. If vacationing isn’t your thing, but you have children, then there is also a card on the market that will make “cash-back” deposits to a 529 account, and others that will simply cut you a check – not a lot, but it’s free.

    I realize, of course, that having a good credit rating enables one to take on more debt, but there are times for most of us when taking on debt is a necessary fact of life (how many people can pay cash for a home or property?), and having a good credit score can drastically reduce the cost of that debt via lower interest rates. That’s also not to mention that credit rating is used as a proxy for character judgement in other scenarios, such as rental applications, hiring decisions, and other important situations.

  32. Rural American:

    In respect for your kind and helpful tone, I’m not going to respond to this post, but I disagree deeply and passionately with almost every word you’ve written.

    Do you realize that using a credit card to accumulate “credit ratings” and “bonus dollars” has destroyed millions?



  33. While you’re playing Solomon, I have three questions:

    1) Without a credit card, how do you pay for things online?

    2) Should a couple have a cheque-book or is that also irresponsible since it potentially represents money you do not have?

    3) Should a small business use credit cards for non-personal purchases?

  34. Curtis:

    1) With a debit card, which is a plastic check.

    2) What checking account do you have that allows you to write checks on money you don’t have, and not consider it a crime?

    3) They should use a debit card with a reasonable limit.

    Credit Cards are completely unnecessary. Paying 20% interest is a sin. Seriously. It’s just wrong. The borrower is slave to the lender.


  35. I’m engaged and getting married in a little over 2 months…so thanks for the wisdom!

    I think it’s interesting that people have such varied reactions to credit cards. It probably has a lot to do with how you’re raised and the examples you saw of credit card usage.

    In my case, I was taught that with two exceptions (a house mortgage and college tuition), all debt is bad and should be avoided at all costs. My parents never bought anything they couldn’t pay for with cash. However, they never used it for credit–they only used it for convenience and to accumulate the rewards. They’ve taken several vacations abroad using the miles accumulated on their card.

    I’m sure this just shows how naive I was, but until recently I assumed pretty much everyone used credit cards in the same manner. The idea that anyone would willingly go into debt, and pay the insanely high interest rates, was mind-boggling for me.

    And unless I’m mistaken, credit cards have better fraud protection then debit cards. That’s the primary reason I use my CC rather than my DC when shopping online.

    Saying “avoid all credit cards at all costs” sounds a bit like the teetotaler’s position: because some people drink too much, we should tell people not to drink at all.

    Overall, I agree with your point, though: debt should be avoided at all costs.

  36. Mike,
    You gave good conusel to your son and his wife. Many others also contributed some sound advice for building a God pleasing marriage.
    However, there were some who gave advice that is harmful if followed. It is always safe to follow the Bible teaching about marriage or any other subject.
    The Four Temperament Study is a dangerous study. It is based upon psychological and subjective observations which are based neither on the rigors of scientific investigation nor on the rigor of exegetical Bible study. Much like the test or array of questions that place a child in the learning disability piegon hole. Most anyone answering these questions honestly would be classified with a learning disability. This will follow the child into adulthood.
    I really need to shorten this so will give just a couple of examples from the four catagories. However, understand that this is not a solid listing as the charts change according to the whim of the author.
    Sanguine: Self-centered and undependable…Both are sin.
    Choleric: Quick to anger and inconsiderate…Both are sin.
    Melancholy: Moody and unsociable…Both are sin.
    Phlegmatic: Stubborn and lazy…Both are sin.
    Now if someone wants to confront me about a known sin then I can accept that and repent and ask them to forgive me if required and continue in a God pleasing way. But to allow me to continue to be quick to anger without biblical confrontation because one is living in an illusion of being able to perdict my behavior because they are experts about The Four Temperaments and I’m only acting in a way that I have no control over is sin on their part. I continue to be quick to anger because I refuse to repent not because I’m sitting in a piegon hole from which I cannot escape. As for me and my house we will follow Scriptural teaching.
    Finally, contary to what many might say, it is not impossible to have a God pleasing marriage. And may this marriage be just that.
    God is able,
    Jim Wasson

  37. Donalbain says

    Do NOT avoid credit cards at all costs. Credit cards can be a sensible and a helpful way to purchase items. For one thing, in the UK, you get better customer protection if you purchase with a credit card than if you buy by cash or cash substitute.
    And debt itself is neither a good nor a bad thing, there is good debt and bad debt. Be sensible.

  38. Congratulations and blessings to you both.

    DH and I have been together 22 years this past January. My advice is listen to each other. Just take time to really hear one another.

    Bring up problems to each other first (and NOT to outsiders). One thing that worked really well for me was to realize that my hubby’s time was valuable. Just because he was my husband, didn’t mean that he stopped being a person with demands on him and committments to keep and places to go. So, I have respect for his time–and I’m meaning this in the situation where you have to lay out a major problem or concern. I simply ask him if this is a good time to really discuss something.

    With regard to the credit card issue–it was I that had the inability to manage my finances properly, so I don’t use credit cards. I use debit cards. With the help of the long-suffering credit union to which we belong, I got some really good advice on how to manage money. So, my advice here is to ask for help from professionals when you need it!