It really is possible to consciously increase your marital joy.

When Larry and I were dating, I loved his take-charge attitude.

I felt safe and relaxed. How wonderful it will be to have Larry as my husband and take care of me.

Then we married. It seemed Larry suddenly changed. He began telling me I was putting the toilet tissue roll on incorrectly. And the drinking glasses needed to be put with the edge down. After all, that was how his mother did it. I was shocked. I didn’t feel safe, only accused. I was tense. What happened?

Unfortunately I reacted in all the wrong ways. If we had studied marriage in the biblical book of Proverbs, we would not have gone through so much anger and conflict.

Let me share four Proverbs principles for joy in marriage.

1. Take responsibility for your part and refuse to blame your spouse for your own poor choices.

Proverbs 11:22 says, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.”

Discretion can be defined as “behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid offense.” I didn’t know how to speak and act without creating offense. I blamed Larry for my unhappiness and discontent. Even if I’d been the most beautiful woman in the world, my ugly words lacked understanding of how to love and respect my husband.

In time God showed me I was wrong to think I was justified to react in an ungodly way because Larry failed me. God could give me godly self-control.

2.  Build through positive thoughts and words.

Proverbs 14:1 instructs, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”

My primary folly was my critical words. Then God showed me I’m a perfectionist. I couldn’t give anyone, even myself, and especially Larry, credit for anything not done perfectly. Otherwise he wouldn’t be motivated to improve.

No wonder Larry tried to escape our “house,” both literally and figuratively because he believed it was impossible to please me, even when he tried. I began giving verbal gratitude for his smallest effort. That built the “house” of our relationship.

3. Trust in God is ultimately the foundation of your marriage.

Proverbs 27:15 reveals, “A continual dipping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.”

My parents had been my example of a loving couple. If they can do it, Larry and I can. But then my parents separated. If they can’t make it work, then how can we? 

They did reconcile but I still watched carefully for anything undermining my own marriage. I tried to correct any of Larry’s opinions I disagreed with. Only when I realized God had the power to work in our lives, and not me, could I understand I didn’t have the power to prevent disaster. He wanted me to obey Him but not control Larry. 

4. If you don’t feel loved by God, you won’t accept your spouse’s efforts to love you.

Proverbs 30:21, 23 says, “Under three things the earth trembles; … an unloved woman when she gets a husband.”

Our spouse can’t provide everything we need, especially a feeling of being loved. We must recognize only God can fully love us. When we accept His love, it’s much easier to accept whatever imperfect efforts our spouse makes.

Over time as Larry and I both believed God was the foundation of our marriage, we could feel secure and choose to love in word and deed.

In 2020, we will celebrate fifty years of marriage and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We love and appreciate each other and serve closely together in marriage as lay counselors, writers, and speakers.

What is your favorite verse in Proverbs that a husband or wife should use for a more joyful marriage?

These ideas are a part of my women’s Bible study book on Proverbs: Heart Wisdom: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. Marriage is one of the ten topics studied in the ten lessons perfect for groups or individual study.