No one ties the knot with the hope that their marriage will be just “okay.” Even in our modern-day no-fault divorce culture, most couples still get married hoping for “til death do us part.” They want to love forever. They want to grow old together, shifting from head-over-heels-in-love newlyweds, to bleary-eyed new parents cradling their bundles of joy, to proud grandparents spoiling their grandkids, to that elderly couple you see walking in town, still holding hands and deeply in love after fifty years together. People want great marriages.
But if you look around, young love doesn’t have a lot to envy. Young couples have to look hard to find good role models. When many of us have been personally touched by divorce, it’s hard to know how to get to “forever.” Luckily for us, we have some wonderful role models in the Bible. If you’re looking for some solid examples of great marriages, take a look at these 10 couples.
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve are the original married couple. Their marriage is the first one mentioned in the Bible, and it was God our Father who brought them together. Like a father gives his daughter to her husband, God gave Eve to Adam. He joined them together, and from them all humanity had its beginning. Adam and Eve had their faults (and a pretty big one, at that), but they had their merits too. They had the perfect marriage for a time. They enjoyed perfect unity- with each other and with God. And even after life with south, they raised two faithful sons, one of whom was an ancestor of Jesus Christ Himself.
Noah and His Wife
Noah was the only righteous man in an entire world of wickedness and evil. He, his unnamed wife, and their children were the only people to survive the flood that wiped out the rest of all living things. They survived because they were a holy family. They followed God, and they were rewarded for their fidelity. And in these post-quarantine days, you can consider Noah and his wife to be the patron saints of couples who are forced to lock themselves away from the world for forty days (or more).
Abraham and Sarah
Abraham and Sarah were a righteous couple who, through no fault of their own, endured years and years of infertility. Abraham and Sarah were rewarded for their faithfulness with the promised birth of their son Isaac. An entire people would come from the union of Abraham and Sarah, the Hebrew people. Their trust in the Lord ran so deep that when asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham was willing to comply, believing that God would raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill His promise. While Abraham was spared the necessity of sacrificing his son, his willingness is a foreshadowing of God’s willingness to offer His Only Son as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Isaac and Rebekah
Isaac and Rebekah, like Abraham and Sarah before them, bore the suffering of infertility. But unlike Isaac’s parents, Isaac and Rebekah never faltered in their trust of God. Where Sarah and Abraham schemed to create heirs through Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and Hagar (Sarah’s servant and Abraham’s concubine), Isaac and Rebekah waited on the Lord and were doubly blessed with twin boys, Esau and Jacob.
Jacob and Rachel
Jacob and Rachel obviously had a complicated marriage. After working for permission to marry Rachel for seven years, Jacob was tricked into marrying her sister Leah instead. Then Jacob worked an additional seven years so that he could marry his true love, Rachel. Rachel and Jacob’s story is one of love at first sight. Jacob did not let the schemes of his future father-in-law derail his love story with Rachel, and even in the face of infertility (especially considering Leah’s fecundity), Jacob remained faithful to and continued to love his wife.
Boaz and Ruth
Boaz and Ruth’s marriage is a story of second chances. After losing her first husband in war, Ruth was faced with the prospect of a future spent alone, unmarried, and childless. But rather than returning to her own family, Ruth chose to remain with her mother-in-law and the Hebrew people, and she was rewarded for her fidelity to the Chosen people and her family. Ruth was given a second chance at love with the man Boaz, who was upstanding, respectful, and faithful. Their union was blessed by God, and Ruth eventually became the great-grandmother of King David.
Elkanah and Hannah
Elkanah and Hannah were the parents of Samuel, the man who anointed both Saul and David as kings of Israel. They were a faithful couple who loved God, but also suffered immensely because of years of infertility. At one point, Hannah was so distraught that the priest Eli believed that she was drunk. Elkanah was a loving husband who led his family in prayer regularly and tried to offer consolation to his suffering wife. Elkanah and Hannah were rewarded for their faithfulness with the gift of Samuel, and the couple showed their gratitude by giving Samuel back to God to serve in His holy Temple.
Joseph and Mary
Joseph and Mary are obviously the best role model for marriage. Mary was immaculately conceived, and tradition holds that Joseph never committed a sin. They married with the intention of remaining virgins throughout their lives, but they were blessed with the birth of Jesus Christ, God made man. Their marriage was holy, and their family life is a wonderful example for all of us called to marriage and family life. They lived a simple life, but it was not without struggle. Jospeh protected his wife and child when they needed to escape Herod’s clutches, and Mary was forced to witness the death of her only child. But they were rewarded for their faith- Joseph was surrounded by the Son of God and the Mother of God as he passed away, and Mary witnessed her Son rise from the grave.
Aquila and Priscilla
We don’t know much about Aquila and Priscilla. St. Paul mentions them in his letter to the Romans, calling them “fellow workers in Christ” (16:3). They were tentmakers by trade (like Paul himself), as well as fervent disciples. Priscilla is one of several female disciples mentioned by name in the New Testament, and she and her husband are the only married couple featured together by name. They welcomed St. Paul into their home in Rome, and were active in their evangelization ministry as a couple. Priscilla and Aquila are wonderful patron saints for married couples where both spouses are active in church ministry.
Christ and the Church
While this marriage might not be a typical couple as the last nine, I would be remiss to omit them, since Christ and the Church are the very reason that marriage was elevated to the level of a sacrament. Marriage is a sign of what we are all promised, the goal toward which we all strive: union with God. Marriage points to what our souls must desire, to spend eternity with the Lord of our hearts. Christ died for His Bride, the Church. He gave His life for her, and now we, as His Bride, are invited to live our lives for Him until it comes time for us to join our heavenly Bridegroom at the great Marriage Banquet for eternity.