How to Have a Joyful Marriage – Part 1: It’s a Part of God’s Plan

Since He first created it, God has intended for us to find joy in marriage. Just read Genesis 2:18: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

God knew we would never be happy by ourselves. So this is what He did: Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22). And Adam’s response to God’s gift?  “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man’” (Genesis 2:23). Adam certainly seemed happy.

The conclusion from God about His plan for marriage is found in Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” And He tells us what happens when His plan for marriage is followed: “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25).

That is a very joyful existence. And it is what God desires for our marriage as well.

Of course, as we know, that joyful existence didn’t remain long. Satan came on the scene. Through lies and enticement he convinced Adam and Eve to sin (see Genesis 3:1-6). And God’s perfect plan was broken.

The consequence of that sin is told in Genesis 3:7: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”

Now they knew they were naked. Now they felt shame. The joy was gone.

But God is gracious. He still wanted husbands and wives to have joyful, happy marriages. And so he had a plan already in place to restore our broken relationship with Him and with each other in marriage.

A joyful marriage can only come when we are in a right relationship with God. This is because we can only love and serve each other when God is in control of us.

God’s guidance and control in our lives only comes through us dying to ourselves and our sinful ways, becoming alive in Christ and living according to His ways. Paul puts it this way in Romans 6:11: “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” We are told here that we die to sin by giving our lives to Jesus as our Savior and Lord.

Therefore, this must be the first step we take to have the marriage God has always planned and desires for us. When we do this, we will have what we need to have the marriage we yearn for. We are told in Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

You can find out how to make Jesus your Lord here: Meet Jesus. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the next part of God’s plan to redeem us and our marriage takes place–the Holy Spirit comes to live in us.

Jesus promised this in John 14:25-26: “‘All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’” He also said in John 16:13: “‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.’”

God has given us all we need in Jesus and the Holy Spirit to have the joyful marriage we desire and that He desires for us. If we have given our lives to Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. And He will lead us to have the joyful marriage God wants for us.

Sometimes even when we both have committed our lives to Jesus, joy may be missing from our marriage. If this is the case in your marriage, there are some specific things God’s Word says are important to do in order to hear the Holy Spirit’s leading and follow His direction.

First you must pray and ask God for a marriage full of joy.

His Word tells us in 1 John 5:14-15: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

We also read in James 4:1-3: What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Do you pray together as a couple? Do you ask God to give you the joyful marriage He desires for you? When you pray for this, you can be certain you are praying “according to His will” (1 John 5:14). You can be sure that you do not “ask with wrong motives” (James 4:3), for God’s Word tells you it is what He desires. You can be confident He will hear you and that He will help you. And He will give you “what [you] asked of Him” (1 John 5:15) because you are praying His will.

The second thing you must do to have the joy-filled marriage God wants for you is to study His Word together.

The Holy Spirit will use God’s Word to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). This includes truth about how to have the joyful marriage God desires for you.

Jesus prayed this for us in John 17:17: “‘Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.’” We are told about this word of truth also in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The “good work” that God thoroughly equips us for includes marriage. We read what God’s Word does for us in 2 Peter 1:3-4: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

God gives us “everything we need for a godly life” (v. 3). And this includes everything we need for a godly marriage. We find how to have this godly, joyful marriage throughout His Word. (For an overview of what God’s Word teaches about marriage, please read Our Beliefs About Marriage from our About section.)

God tells us about how important His Word is in having His wisdom and the joy that comes with it in Psalm 19:7-8: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (bold mine).

Throughout the Bible, God has included His wisdom for our lives—and our marriage. For instance, He warns us in Colossians 2:8: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

We also read in 1 Corinthians 3:18-20: “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; 20 and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’”

If the world’s wisdom is futile, where do we look for the wisdom we need for our marriage? The same places we discussed previously.

First, we ask God to provide it for us. He says in James 1:5: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Second, we seek His wisdom and find it in God’s Word.

Jesus told a parable of “a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). When the storms of life came that house was able to withstand them because of that firm foundation (Matthew 7:25).

What was that firm foundation? Jesus tells us in His introduction to the parable in Matthew 7:24: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man….” The firm foundation for our lives and marriage is found in God’s words–which are found in the Bible.

A good place to begin seeking God’s wisdom in His Word is in the books of the Bible that concentrate on wisdom—Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. These are known as wisdom literature.

As we continue this series, next week we will look at some teachings from these books that we can apply to our marriage. Teachings that God provides so we can have the happy, joy-filled marriage He has always wanted for us—the kind we desire.

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♦   Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss what you have learned from it.

♦   One step in having a joyful marriage is to tell each other things about your spouse that brings you joy and happiness. We saw from the very beginning that God brought Adam and Eve together to bring joy to one another. Tell the other person things about their spiritual attributes, physical beauty, mental capabilities, skills, etc. that make you happy. You don’t have to tell them everything during this time. Just tell one thing now and tell them other things during the week and days ahead. This will encourage you both and bring you closer together.

♦   Go back through this week’s teaching and discuss how you are doing in following those basic things that are necessary for a joyful marriage. Have you both committed your lives to Jesus? Do you study God’s Word on your own and together? Do you pray regularly, both individually and together? If not, commit to each other to do so. Help hold each other accountable.

♦   Close your time together in prayer. Thank God for the marriage He has given you. Thank Him for each other. Ask Him to help you have the joy He intends for your marriage and to help you follow His instructions for attaining it. Ask God to help you to follow through on the commitments you have made.

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Until next week, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Aegean Wedding Photography on Unsplash, (CC0), cropped/text added.




About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.