The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 10 - “Improving Your Marriage”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

Proverbs 24:3-4, “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”


We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people, then we looked at “Help for Hotheads” the scriptural answer to anger management, we saw why we need to be “Mastering Our Mouths,” how to find fantastic friends, the worst of all sins-Pride, Leaving laziness, eliminating envy, and wisdom for better health, and how to stifle stress. Today we are going to look at how to improve your marriage.


Introduction:

Marriage has three stages. The first stage has been called "the ideal," the second, "the ordeal," and the third, "let's make a deal." The fact is, after we have been married a while and get out of "la-la" land, we realize that a good marriage doesn't just happen accidentally. It takes a lot of hard work! According to Proverbs 24:3 & 4 it requires wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Let’ take a look at the five requirements for improving your marriage.


#1) Communication.

Communication is more than just talking; it is being able to freely share our hearts. We also must remember that we earn the right to be heard by listening. The key to good communication is being good listeners. Proverbs 1:5 tells us that, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning.” Without good, healthy communication a marriage doesn't stand a chance, and the most important part of communication is knowing how to listen. To be good listeners, we must follow four principles,

          -First, allow your spouse plenty of time. Listening is a difficult art because it requires tremendous concentration. Most people speak about 150 words a minute, but we can listen at two or three times that rate. Therefore, the temptation is to rush people or let our minds wander and not pay attention. James 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

          -Second, avoid correcting or arguing. No matter how wrong you think your spouse is, don't argue or correct. Just nod your head to affirm you are really hearing what is being said. Even if he or she is wrong, what matters most is your spouse feels free to express his or her feelings.

Sometimes, more than anything else, a spouse needs to vent feelings of hurt, frustration, or anger. Arguing or correcting will only cause them to stop sharing their hearts. When people can freely verbalize their thoughts they are better able to analyze and evaluate them. If what they say sounds foolish or wrong to you, it probably will to them too, after they think about what they have said. Even when they are hostile, belligerent, or rude, we must keep our cool.

The hurts and frustrations of life can cause emotional explosions if they are not vented. Like the safety valve on a pressure cooker, talking releases emotional pressure that can keep a marriage from exploding. Allowing a person to speak is an emotional "safety valve." Even emotional outbursts of anger can be good because the person is releasing pressure that needs to be vented.

-Third, aim your eyes at your spouse's. Listening begins with our eyes, not our ears. To be good listeners, our eyes should be focused on the eyes of the person speaking. Often our eyes tell us something our ears miss. Proverbs 20:12 says that, “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.”

-Fourth, ask questions if you don't understand. Asking questions lets your spouse know you really want to understand what he or she is saying. But ask questions with compassion and kindness. Don't say, "Where did you get that dumb idea?" Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.” The thoughts or feelings of a person's heart are like deep waters, but if we are wise, we can draw them out by lovingly asking questions.

Communication requires planning. Therefore, plan walks together or just the two of you going out once a week to eat and talk. However, remember your marriage will never be ideal. Perfect marriages are only in fairy tales. All the smiling couples you see on Sunday have problems just like you. We said that improving your marriage requires communication,


#2) Courtship

This means continue to date after you are married. As someone has said, "If there was more courting in marriage there would be fewer marriages in court." Shortly after getting married, most of us stop doing the things we did to win our mate's love. Also, the most important person in our lives often gets the leftovers. In the mornings we are usually rushed, so we get stressed and cranky. When we come home we are often tired and just want to be left alone. Thus, the courtship stops, and that's not fair to either person.


Couples must plan times to enjoy each other. We should have a "date night" each week and at least once a year take a special weekend away together. Proverbs 5:18 says that we are to, “Rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”


We said that improving your marriage requires communication, courtship, and,

#3) Compliments

Before getting married, we focus on all the good points of our prospective mates. Before marriage our differences attract, but after marriage they become sources of irritation. Then, we focus only on what irritates us. However, we must focus on the positive and complement our spouses. Giving compliments is difficult for most men. Praise in public and correction only in private is an essential guideline for improving your marriage.

Men, get into the habit of sincerely praising your wife at least once a day. I don't mean flatter her; I mean really praise her. For praise to be effective it must be genuine and sincere. Don't lie or exaggerate because that will only be counter-productive.


Because most men need help in this area, here are some pointers. An easy one is "Honey, that was a delicious meal." Or, here's a great one, "I don't know what I like most—the dress or what's in it." Guys, whenever you can, compliment your wife's body because most women are very sensitive about their appearance. Women need their husbands to complement their bodies. That's why they take so long to get ready. Also, few things can hurt as deeply as being critical of your wife's appearance.


Men, here's a really tough one: "Honey, you've worked so hard today. Why don't you sit down and relax while I do the dishes?" Men, treat your wife like a queen, and she will treat you like a king. Proverbs 16:24 says that, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” No words are more pleasant than compliments or words of praise. They also help in bringing healing to a marriage.


We said that improving your marriage requires communication, courtship, compliments, and...

#4) Confession

In every marriage there are times when harsh words are spoken, unkind things are done, and important dates forgotten. When these things happen, the two hardest words in the English language to say are, "I'm sorry." The three hardest words to say are, "I was wrong." In a marriage it is very important to always obey the command found in James 5:16 which says, “Confess your faults one to another.”


Many men believe the terrible lie that if they admit they are wrong, their wives will not respect them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Every wife knows her husband makes mistakes.


Improving your marriage requires communication, courtship, compliments, confession, and...

#5) Christ

From time to time we all have relationship storms that can really rock our marriages and cause some serious cracks. When two people marry, Jesus said, in God's sight they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh." You become one flesh as each of you comes closer to Christ. As each partner comes closer to Christ, they become more and more one in attitudes, morals, desires, etc.


To the believer that’s married to an unbeliever, we must do what I Peter 3:2 encourages us to do. “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”

Winning an unbelieving spouse begins with prayer. Pray God will change your negative attitudes and actions toward your spouse so your life will draw him or her to the Lord rather than driving them away. Some Christian spouses act so holier-than-thou toward their spouses they actually do drive them away from Christ.


We said that improving your marriage requires communication, courtship, compliments, confession, and Christ. Which area needs the most attention in your marriage, and what will you do about it?


Let’s pray.



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