10 Ways the Bible Teaches Us to Love Our Spouse
1 | Focus on Creating an Equal and Complementary Partnership — Genesis 2:18, 22
And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
It is not good for us to be alone, and marriage is a solution that’s divine. God created for Adam a “help meet” which, Linda Burton explained, is “a helper suited to, worthy of, or corresponding to him. For example, our two hands are similar to each other, but not exactly the same. In fact they are exact opposites, but they complement each other and are suited to each other. Working together, they are stronger.” I love the word help meet as understood this way—we are meant to work together, be together, and we are stronger when we are together. Yet because we are all different, how this is manifest in all marriages will also look very different! I remember early on in my marriage feeling like it wasn’t up to par because my husband wasn’t doing the vacuuming! Growing up, my Dad was the vacuum-er extraordinaire, and so assumed my husband needed to do the same! I also felt like I was less of a woman for not paying bills and budgeting because that’s what my mom did, and many of my girlfriends were “in charge” of their money too. It didn’t take me long to realize that because I am obsessed with clean carpet and my husband with keeping track of our money it made much more sense to do the things we were good in order to complement each other’s strengths. We will better love our spouses as we recognize that our differences can help us to complement each other.
2 | Protect Each Other’s Hearts — Genesis 2:22
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto man.
God choosing ribs as the means to create woman is significant in my mind for a couple of reasons. First, the fact that Eve came not from Adam’s head or foot but from his the middle signifies the equality of the woman God had created. Man and woman were to be equal, but not just in their activities but in their emotional relationship with each other. But I also love the imagery that ribs protect the body’s vital organs, most importantly, the heart. So what’s the lesson for us? We should protect each other’s hearts, and make that our number one concern! It is a popular topic that men need to be sensitive and kind to women, but I think that men need looked after in the same way. Our love will grow as we protect each other.
3 | Leave and Cleave — Genesis 2:24
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife : and they shall be one flesh.
Cleave means to be completely devoted and faithful to someone, and leave (in this case) means to leave behind the single life they knew before and establish a marriage. It is certainly a blessing to live close to family, but my husband and I were not afforded that luxury when we were first married. We look back now with fondness of the time we were able to spend together and devote solely to each other. Regardless of whether you live close or far away from family, marriages are a living thing that require care, nourishment and time. Husbands and wives need moments when they can leave the world behind and be together.
4 | Forgive, Forgive, Forgive — Genesis 50:21
Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
I am not ashamed to admit my love for the story of Joseph in Egypt (it might have just a little do with one of my favorite Broadway musicals). It is a story rich with beautiful examples of family, sacrifice, achieving, believing in yourself, obedience, making the best out of the worst, and most of all forgiveness. Joseph was wronged by his brothers; their cruel mistreatment of him changed his life and ultimately could have ruined him. However, when they were finally reunited years later he chose to forgive, and not just forgive, but be kind and allow them again into his life. Forgiveness in marriage can be hard. Our actions are so connected to our spouses that when they wrong us it can be the most hurtful of all. Alexander Pope’s famous quote always comes to mind for me, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Because I have felt that divine forgiveness from God I know the very least I can do is forgive the one closest to me. Humans make mistakes and God forgives. We should too.
5 | Build Together a Foundation of Faith — Joshua 24:15
Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Years ago I remember hearing this quote from Ezra Taft Benson, “When we put God first all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.” I loved it so much I stuck it on my dashboard to remind me to always look to God first. I referred to this often as a guidepost when I was making some of my life’s big deal decisions or was going through hard times. I look back now with so much gratitude knowing that God was my guide because I allowed him to be in charge. In marriage there are so many decisions, little and big, that can drastically change the kind of home and relationship we have, and putting God first will keep a marriage on track and keep drawing both spouses closer together and closer to God.
6 | Need Each Other — Ruth 1-4
The story of Ruth and Boaz is not really a romantic story, but it is in every way a story about love. From the moment Boaz saw Ruth he praised her loyalty and virtue. Ruth realized the need for someone to protect and take care of her. She proposed to Boaz by essentially saying, “I’m putting my life in your hands. Will you protect me?” and he does. Boaz saves Ruth and Ruth honors Boaz with her qualities. What do we learn from this? Despite the way love is so often portrayed—overly focused on attraction, romance, and sexuality—Ruth and Boaz illustrate a love of devotion, protection, and virtue. In marriage, both partners must prize and protect each other. Each partner needs the other to improve, grow, and learn. A favorite proverb reminds us, “Thee lift me and I lift thee and we will ascend together.”
7 | Treat Your Relationship as a Prized Possession — Proverbs 31:10
Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.
I heard the advice once that marriages that work best consist of a husband and wife who consider their relationship as a “pearl beyond price”. What we treasure we take better care of! This becomes a challenge because it is so easy to get caught up in mundane, day to day activities that we can easily forget we have a treasure, a most valuable asset sitting right next to us!
My husband and I have remembered one piece of advice given to us at our wedding, by friends 20 years into their marriage: “Marriage Rocks!” We had heard so much about “the old ball and chain” and “how hard marriage is” that it was so refreshing for both of us to hear someone say how much they simply loved and treasured their marriage! Of course marriage takes work, and of course there are moments that are not as shining as we like them to be, but one of the best way to have a happy marriage is to see it and treat it as your most prized possession.
8 | Don’t Focus on the Small Imperfections — Matthew 7:3
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
How obvious this one seems, but how often it trips us all up! It is so easy to look at others’ faults, yet remain blind to our own! For me this comes in the form of piles. It is very easy for me to notice (okay, get annoyed with) the little collection of my husband’s things on the dresser or in the corner, but my pile of clothes in the middle of our closet? No biggie! It is much easier to look past those stacks of his when I look around and realize I’ve got mine too.
9 | Love as Christ Did — John 13:34
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
I’ve often wondered what was so “new” about this commandment. The law that man was to love his neighbor had been around for years. I’ve come to see that the “new” part of the commandment was that we are not just to love our neighbors but to love them as Christ has loved us. And how did He love them? He gave everything to them, even His own life. This kind of love requires more than just good feelings and kind thoughts; it requires our time, efforts, devotions, and service.
With our spouses, as wonderful as saying “I love you” is, acting out I love you might be an even better message. Let’s not forget as we try to be more Christ-like, to serve and pray and cook and clean and give of ourselves to others, that our most important “other” is our spouse.
10 | Speak Kind Words — James 3:2-5
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
I love the imagery in these verses—the words that we say can seem so small, but we all know the fires that are started from our good or evil words. In any relationship we have, communication can be one of the greatest keys to express and show how we feel, but also can be one of the most challenging parts! The words we choose and the tone in which we say them can have a big and lasting impact on the people closest to us. Let us watch what we say, how we say it, and even what we think before we speak.
I hope these 10 ideas from the Bible can help you as you focus on loving your spouse this Valentine’s Day! What ideas have stuck out to you in the Bible? Please share below!