During our courtship many years ago, my husband and I received a simple but profound word from the Lord. It was a word that would take us several years to understand, although fundamental to our marriage. At that time the Lord said:
“Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], and by knowledge shall its chambers [of every area] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4 Amplified Bible).
Much of our understanding of this truth came as we walked through life together, striving to overcome challenging situations and to enjoy pleasant ones. In hindsight, we see that God wanted us to know that even though our story up to the point of courtship had been blissful and proof of His handiwork, we would only succeed in marriage if we applied the principles of Proverbs 24:3–4. He wanted us to know that there are certain principles that underlie successful Christian marriages, and if we wanted ours to be one we needed to build according to those principles.
Many Christian couples are almost one hundred percent focused on engagement and wedding bells prior to getting married, and this is good because these events occur only once in a lifetime for many. However, it is important to know that these events are only part of the story. The emotional and spiritual investment put into finding and keeping Mr. or Ms. Right is only truly worthwhile if the couple goes on to pour all they have into building a successful marriage.
In Proverbs 24:3–4 the Lord gives us guidelines on how to build successful marriages. He says that such marriages are built by applying wisdom—godly wisdom—to every aspect of our marital lives. A couple receives this wisdom by seeking God’s counsel and direction for every significant decision they make and then applying the guidance He gives.
The second ingredient is “understanding.” This has to do with seeking to understand our partners. It’s not just about comprehending what they say, even though this is important, but it’s about understanding who they are, what makes them tick, what their fears and insecurities are, what their hopes and expectations are, and more. After we understand them in this way, we should relate to them on the basis of the information we have learned about them.
The third ingredient needed to build a successful marriage is “knowledge.” When a couple builds their marriage with godly wisdom and establishes it through in-depth understanding, God releases fresh insights to them on how to “adorn” their relationship. These bits of knowledge are hidden treasures that God foreordained for His children to walk in so that they may enjoy marriage and fulfill His purposes therein. These adornments flavor the marriage relationship and make it desirable.
There is unprecedented failure in marriages today. This is not because the institution itself is problematic. On the contrary, marriage is a beautiful covenant relationship created by an all-sufficient God for His glory. But uncovering its beauty requires a continual dependence on Him for all the virtues needed to make it work. Let us seek Him, therefore, for the wisdom, understanding, and knowledge needed to make our marriages strong, fulfilling, and lasting.