Marriage 101: Building from Three Basics

Marriage 101: Building from Three Basics


Tim Clinton, Ed.D.

A husband and wife were driving down a country road. In the midst of a heated disagreement, everything went totally quiet. As they crested the top of a hill, there was a pasture filled with cows, goats and pigs. The husband looked over at his wife and sarcastically remarked, “Relatives of yours?” “Yep” she replied… “In-laws.” (smile)

Despite all that we know about love and relationships, the divorce rate is somewhere between 40 and 50% of those who actually get married today. And sadly, behind closed doors in the quiet corners of lots of hearts, resides profound sorrow. Pain from love gone bad.

Money, loss, work demands, illness, differences, expectations – so much works against our love and marriages. Solomon said that enjoying life with the woman whom we love all the days of our lives was our reward in life (Ecclesiastes 9:9). More often than not, marriage can feel like anything but a reward. How can we get back to this place in our love and relationships?

When a basketball player struggles to find his 3 point shot, it’s important to get back to the foul line. He must work on the fundamentals and rhythm of his game to get his shot back. At the heart of every successful marriage you will find:

God. Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (NASV). God must be the center of your home. Not just knowing about Him, but abiding in an intimate relationship with Him. And not just as an individual, but as a couple. In the well known marriage “triangle concept”, with husband and wife on the two bottom corners and God at the apex, as a husband and wife move toward God, they get closer to each other.

Love. 1 John 3:18 “…let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth” (ESV). As trite as it may sound, it is all about “the love”. Remember, love is not a feeling. Feelings come and go. Love is a choice. We must choose every day, in “word and in deed”, to show love and kindness to our spouse. Make sure she or he knows that you love them.

Blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 “Not returning…insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead”(NASV). Your words are important. They will either speak life into your marriage, or death. Instead of bickering back and forth, speak words of blessing into each other’s lives. Here’s the key; honor not expressed…is not honor.

Let’s get back to the basics so that you won’t “miss” what God has for your marriage.

Tim Clinton, Ed.D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He serves as the Executive Director of the James Dobson Family Institute and recurring cohost of, Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. Licensed as a Professional Counselor and as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Dr. Clinton is recognized as a world leader in mental health and relationship issues and spends much of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He has authored and edited nearly 30 books, including The Struggle is Real: How to Care for Mental and Relational Health Needs in the Church.