One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 21:9, "It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house." At first, this may seem a bit chauvinistic. Yet, if you think for a moment it is true. It is better to be in the smallest corner of space than with a fighting spouse. The Bible is filled with ways that we can be less like the proverbial brawling spouse and to unlock the true potential of our marriage.
A good example of how we can better love our spouse comes from the first couple on this earth, Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:25 it says, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
To cleave to someone doesn't mean to just hang out with them every so often and then go do your own thing. In addition, it doesn't mean putting the needs and interests of others ahead of our spouse. This includes parents. Well-meaning parents often can come between a loving couple. It is our responsibility to keep this verse in mind and cleave to our spouse. What is cleaving? The dictionary defines cleaving as "sticking fast to." A husband and wife should not be separated. While that isn't to say there isn't a place for doing things as an individual - they should be done in moderation. A spouse's most important place is at his partner's side.
This is also demonstrated in Genesis. The devil deceives Eve. She partakes of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and is going to be forced out of the Garden of Eden. Adam could have allowed Eve to go alone. Instead, he heeded the word of the Lord. He cleaved to Eve and was cast out of the Garden with her.
While the above example did involve Adam and Eve physically going together, this principle doesn't just apply to a physical presence. We must also be singular in purpose with our children and with others. There are few things more degrading than talking behind someone else's back. It's even more troublesome when it happens between spouses.
Another example of loving our spouse is that of Jacob and Rachel. When Jacob first meets Rachel as he goes out to make his way in the world, he goes to her father, Laban and asks to work for Rachel. What is significant about this is in the ancient world, men typically received dowries for women instead of the reverse. Instead, Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. Then when he found that Laban had tricked him, he worked an additional seven years to secure her hand.
The Bible doesn't say much about how Jacob felt about being tricked. However, Genesis 29:20 says that those first seven years "seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her." If we cherished our spouses as much as Jacob cherished Rachel, every marriage would be nearly perfect. This is echoed in the New Testament in Ephesians 5:25. Paul tells the Ephesians "husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it." Christ gave his all for the church and for us. Looking at his perfect example, the person who we should give our all for is our spouse.
Going back to Genesis, we are to be "one flesh." We are two parts of a great whole. We should love and cherish our spouse just as Christ would have us love them. We should be there for them and be willing to serve as Jacob did. As we humbly serve our spouses, our love for each other grows. This virtuous cycle will bind us closer together with our spouses as we continue to work together toward a singular purpose.