Five Guidelines for Building a Strong Marriage

April 30, 2019
By: Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Co-Founders of FamilyLife

As Jesus recalls the melodrama of God’s presentation of Eve to Adam, He says, “But from the Beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh” (Mark 10:6-8). This passage presents five guidelines for building a strong and godly marriage, which I find myself returning to again and again.

There are principles in Scripture that are the biblical basics. This is one of those mandates that must use the rabbinical method of teaching: repetition!

Guideline 1: Leave

The Hebrew word for leave quoted by Jesus here literally means “forsake dependence on.” Many married couples have never stopped depending on their parents or on those who raised them. To leave doesn’t mean to cut all ties, but to establish your independence from your households of origin. You have formed a new family unit; you’re not merely an extension of someone else’s family.

Guideline 2: Cleave

To cleave means that you make a commitment to your spouse that you will always stick together, until death or until the Lord’s coming separates you. Such a commitment is the missing ingredient in many of today’s marriages. In God’s original plan, there were no escape hatches, no prenuptial agreements, no bailout clauses. Cleaving means you burn your bridges and make a lifelong commitment to love your spouse. No matter what.

Guideline 3: Be Physically Intimate

Notice the progression: leave, cleave, and then one flesh. There is no room in God’s plan for couples to try one another out before the marriage to see whether they are sexually compatible. That is a lie of this world, not the truth of God’s Word. God designed sex to seal the deal between a husband and wife.

Guideline 4: Become Transparent

The Genesis account says Adam and Eve were “both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25). They felt no fear or rejection, but instead felt total acceptance from each other. Barbara knows that I accept and love her, just as she accepts and loves me. This enables both of us to be transparent, be ourselves with each other fully without fear.

Guideline 5: Fulfill Your Responsibilities

The final part of God’s plan calls for fulfilling your responsibilities. I believe that because we have been deceived in to making some incorrect assumptions about what God intended, the discussion of roles in marriage has produced a lot of heat and very little light.

The dictionary says a role is “the part played by an actor”. In marriage, however we don’t act. According to the Bible, husbands have clear responsibilities to sacrificially love and lead their wives, while wives have clear responsibilities to respect and support their husbands. When we fulfill those responsibilities, it makes for oneness and intimacy in marriage.

When a couple learns how to practice these five biblical blueprints on a daily basis, they begin to experience marriage as God intended it.

NKJV Brides Bible
1 Peter 4:8
KJV Brides Bible

The Bride’s Bible helps start marriage off right—with God’s Word at the center.

Related Articles

10 Favorite Marriage Scriptures

The Bible contains helpful verses about love, marriage, and relationships. Here’s ten favorite Bible verses to consider in writing your vows or reading... Read More

Help Each Other Grow Up in Faith

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. - Colossians 3:14 Do you want to grow up in... Read More

A Little Empathy Goes a Long Way

Jesus changed their lives because He first understood their lives. Empathy is more than an attractive personality trait. It’s an instrument of healing. Jesus... Read More

Sign Up for the Latest Blog Posts from Thomas Nelson

By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *