What a Great Marriage Needs Most

You may have noticed a theme on the blog this week. We’ve been talking about marriage. A lot! But maybe not in the ways we usually do. We think marriage is great. It’s one of God’s very best ideas, but whether you’re a long way from marriage, almost to the altar, or married already, we want to point you to God’s Word to elevate your thinking about marriage. It’s about so much more than a bride and a groom. Check out this great post from Samantha on what you need most as you consider how to be a great wife. I could give you a list. An extensive “twenty ways to become a godly wife” kind of list ticking off the qualities, tasks, and methods that would help prepare you to marry someday. I’ve heard from many of you who might love that kind of list, as you’ve asked me, “What can I do now to prepare for a great marriage in the future?” I think it’s a great question. It tells me that you desire a thriving marriage someday, you want to honor God as a wife, and you are planning ahead. But if it’s a laundry list of ideas you’re looking for, I can’t give it to you. Here are three simple reasons why:

  1. My husband and I recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary. Our marriage is still in its infancy, and we haven’t lived the years together to cultivate time-tested wisdom or hard-learned experience. Have we learned plenty during our first two years as husband and wife? Absolutely. But our knowledge would be short-sighted compared to a husband and wife of fifty or sixty years.
  2. My experience is not another wife’s experience. My point of view just may not match up with your circumstances and experiences; every single marriage is unique. I won’t champion a cookie-cutter-wife ideal that looks a little too much like myself. And the last thing I want to do is offer my own opinions or marriage experience as truth.
  3. Experiential wisdom is good—and you’ll absolutely need that someday. But there’s something we need far more desperately than practical how-to’s . . .

This is what a godly wife needs more than anything—more than cooking know-how, cleaning hacks, date night ideas, and home decorating savvy. She needs the gospel. You need the gospel. I need the gospel. The gospel that declares you are forgiven by Jesus Christ, loved by Jesus Christ, and claimed for eternity by Jesus Christ carves the pathway of godly living for you today and as a wife someday. The gospel is the bottom line. It’s the foundation upon which our entire lives must be constructed, including marriage (Titus 3:3–8; Eph. 5:22–33).

Built Upon a Solid Foundation

If we breeze past the truth that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, defeating sin and death, we grasp for practical applications without a solid foundation. (The practical things do matter—finances, cooking, laundry, work and home balance, etc.—but the gospel is the big picture that then informs and shapes those everyday details.) Heading into marriage without the gospel as our foundation is a disaster waiting to happen. Because . . .

  • Without Christ’s forgiveness, you won’t be compelled to forgive your husband (Eph. 4:32).
  • Without Christ’s example of immoveable faithfulness to the will of His Father, you may find reasons to justify a lack of faithfulness to your husband and your marriage (Heb. 12:1–2).
  • Without Christ’s gentle kindness, you will be empty of genuine kindness toward your husband (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 5:22–23).
  • Without Christ’s sacrificial servanthood, you won’t have motivation to serve your husband with pure motives (Phil. 2:4–8, John 13:12–15; Mark 10:45).
  • Without Christ’s example of holiness, you won’t honor your husband in purity and righteousness (2 Cor. 5:20–21; Heb. 4:15; Luke 4:1–13).
  • Without Christ’s jaw-dropping love, you won’t be moved to love your husband unconditionally without asking anything in return (1 John 4:7–12; Eph. 5:1–2; Rom. 5:8; John 13:34–35).

In marriage, you will meet conflict, disappointment, trials, loss, big questions, little annoyances, pain, and the mundane. The gospel speaks into each one of those situations with grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, and hope. The realities of the gospel make it possible to forgive as Christ forgave us. To love as He loves us. To serve as He served. To meet needs as we follow His selfless, need-meeting example. These are the makings of a godly wife and a thriving marriage built upon Jesus, the Solid Rock, who carried the cross to Calvary for you, for me.

Where Love Begins and Ends

The gospel is true love’s starting point and its ending point. You can learn the ways of wifely wisdom, decorating every nook of your house, meal planning and couponing, striving to meet your husband’s needs, whipping up Food Network inspired plates of deliciousness, cleaning floors and sewing on buttons, but if all of it is done without love . . . you will find yourself empty (1 Cor. 13).

The gospel is true love’s starting point and its ending point.

Without the gospel, you will rely on your husband’s approval for your joy. You will depend on his love for your comfort. You will base your worth on your own performance as a wife. You will place your hopes and expectations upon your husband, and when he fails, your heart will plummet through the air like you’ve fallen off a skyscraper. You’ll look around, hurt and wounded, and say, “Is this what marriage really is? This doesn’t seem like what I signed up for.” That scenario truly isn’t what God intended, because He designed marriage itself to be a picture of the glorious gospel. Jesus is the Bridegroom, and we, the Church, are His Bride. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth describes it this way in Adorned:

Just as the Bible is the story of the heavenly Bridegroom faithfully seeking out and staying true to His chosen Bride, human marriage is a story intended to draw people toward the gospel, showing them the love of God through two imperfect individuals whose lives become one in Him and who are devoted to one another for better or for worse . . . for life (p. 238).

And in his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller describes this relationship between marriage and the gospel so powerfully:

So, what do you need to make marriage work? You need to know the secret, the gospel, and how it gives you both the power and pattern for your marriage. On the one hand, the experience of marriage will unveil the beauty and depth of the gospel to you. It will drive you further into reliance on it. On the other hand, a greater understanding of the gospel will help you experience deeper and deeper union with each other as the years go on (p. 44).

The Biggest and Best Picture

So how can you prepare to become a godly wife someday? Cling to the truth of the gospel today. Ask God to shape you into His Son’s likeness, not just for the future, but for right now. It applies to any and every season of life—singleness, dating, engagement, marriage, and beyond. No, it doesn’t hurt to prepare for what could be someday. But ask yourself this: What season am I in right now? How can I apply the gospel to my life right here instead of getting lost in dreams about what could be someday? I don’t want you to miss the gospel opportunities at your fingertips because you’re longing for a life six years down the road.

What your someday husband will need from you most of all is a heart that seeks to love and reflect Jesus Christ.

Above all, what your someday husband will need from you most of all is a heart that seeks to love and reflect Jesus Christ. And if you’re clinging to Him today, and the next day, and the next, you will be becoming a woman who loves Him with all of her heart—and a woman who will seek to honor and bless her husband all of her days (Prov. 31:12). By the way: I love practical advice and believe practical wisdom from older women is vital. Absolutely learn how to manage your home, steward your finances, rock your recipes, and scrub your floors with gusto. Those things matter! But save the more practical things for when the time comes. The gospel is the best and big picture. We need it more than we’ll ever need to know how to fold a fitted sheet. Seek Jesus Christ above all else!

About the Author

Samantha Keller

Samantha Keller loves lazy lake days, strong coffee, and writing about the ways Jesus transforms our everyday messes into beautiful stories. She digs the four seasons in northern Indiana, is probably wearing a Notre Dame crew neck.