Marriage Meditation — Best Marriage Advice: You Can’t Change Your Spouse

By Bill Arbuckle

Photo by Trung Nguyen from Pexels

The best marriage advice says you can’t fix your spouse. But God specializes in fixing broken things. He cares about your marriage.

Getting Started

  • Read today’s marriage devotion.
  • Share today’s question with your spouse.

Today’s Video

Today’s Devotion

“You can’t change your spouse.” — Best Marriage Advice, from a Focus on the Family Facebook post.

What is the best marriage advice you’ve received? Did someone share words of wisdom at your wedding reception? Did a friend encourage you and your spouse through those early days of marriage?

During a recent Facebook live event, Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley — authors, counselors and Focus on the Family’s marriage experts — asked viewers to share their best marriage advice. We’re sharing those thoughts as part of the Marriage Meditation series and looking at what God’s Word says about these tidbits of truth.

Scripture Reading

  • Psalm 139:14 — “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
  • Philippians 2:3 — “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
  • Philippians 2:5-7 —“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.”
  • Psalm 147:3 — “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

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While it may be lore, the story is told of the time automaker Henry Ford helped a farmer fix a broken-down car. Ford was coming home from a camping trip when he stopped to repair the man’s car. Ford used his own tools, his own parts and soon got the man’s car back in working order. When the farmer attempted to pay, Ford politely refused and then sent the man on his way.

Imagine that! The president of the Ford Motor Company (and one of the most famous people in the country) rolling up his sleeves, getting down in the dirt and helping a common man with his troubles.

Henry Ford vs. your marriage

It’s one thing to fix a car. With enough tools, time and money, almost any car can be repaired or restored. Your spouse, however, isn’t a car. And that’s why the old phrase, “You can’t change your spouse.” Is some of the best marriage advice you’ll ever receive.

Here’s the truth: Your spouse is broken. Because of sin, we’re all broken. One broken person trying to fix another’s brokenness leads toward more brokenness. So, how do  you change your spouse’s bad habits? Their addiction? Their differences?

Start by taking your spouse’s brokenness to God.

God isn’t afraid to roll up His sleeves, get down into the dirt and messiness of our lives and help us in our troubles. Philippians 2:5-7 tells us Christ took on the form of a servant and willingly embraced our messiness. Then, He redeemed us from that messiness. He alone can change your spouse’s brokenness and make them whole.

What should you do while God is changing your spouse?

  • Thank God for your spouse. Psalm 139:14 says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” There is something both awe-inspiring and wonderful in the way God made your spouse. And then, He brought you together. God has a purpose for you and your spouse. Take a moment and thank Him for your marriage.
  • Check your motive and attitude. Philippians 2:3 tells us to “do nothing from selfish ambition.” God may be using your spouse’s behavior to help you mature in your relationship. (However, if your spouse is abusive or addicted to harmful substances, we urge you to seek help immediately.)
  • Serve like Jesus. It’s not easy to serve your spouse. That’s why we have to look to Jesus. He set the example and understands the challenges you face. He also offers grace and strength.

God specializes in fixing broken things. The best marriage advice says you can’t fix your spouse. But you know the One who can. He cares about your marriage.


Heavenly Father, thank You for fixing broken things and broken people. Amen.

Today’s Question

How can I pray for you and serve you?

Additional Resources

© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Originally published on

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