A Hospitable Marriage

Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. —Henri J.M. Nouwen

Marriage is about creating space for your spouse to grow and change and is built on hospitality. You need to make room for your spouse:

  • You need to make space in the cupboard for their clothes.
  • You need to make space in your bed for them.
  • You need to make space in your heart for them.
  • You need to make space in your life for them.

Our spouse often starts off as our best friend but over the years it can sometimes feel like they have turned into our enemy. We stop offering hospitality to our spouse when we feel they have ‘sinned’ against us and we start withholding our love and hardening our hearts.

1 Peter 4:8-10 says “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

There is no hospitality like understanding. —Vanna Bonta

When we feel that our needs are not being met we will often belittle and criticize our spouse. We stop hearing what our loved ones are saying and focus instead on our hurts. We need to start focusing on what they are saying and then checking with them whether what we are hearing is what they are actually saying. It is so easy to slip into the habit of thinking about how we are going to respond to what is being said before they have even finished saying it and before you know it the two of you are talking past each other and misunderstandings creep in and the gulf between the two of you just becomes wider and wider.

Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side. —Danny Meyer

You both need to be on each other’s side. You need to have each other’s back. You need to be watching out for each other.

Here is a list of questions you can use to check in with yourself and see if you are creating a space that is hospitable for your spouse:

  • Are you friendly and loving towards them?
  • Do you allow your spouse to talk and do you listen in such a way that they are able to be their true selves?
  • Are you so hospitable towards your spouse that they have the freedom to be vulnerable with you?
  • When your spouse is in need do you reach out your hand to help them? Do you make yourself available to them?
  • Does your spouse feel understood by you or are there constant misunderstandings in your marriage?
  • Does your spouse believe that you are on their side? That you believe in them?

And similar questions must be asked of yourself: Are you hospitable towards yourself? Do you offer yourself all the things we have mentioned above? If your answer is ‘no’ then you need to start working on being hospitable towards yourself – it is only then that you will be able to offer full hospitality to your partner.

If God can turn night into day then He can turn your burden into a blessing. —Anonymous

If you hand your marriage to God and are prepared to change the way you behave and think, God can turn your inhospitable marriage into a hospitable one where both you and your spouse can relax and find joy and peace in each other.


Noelene Curry lives in Cape Town, South Africa with her Irish husband, three daughters, one dog and two rabbits. Noelene is a public speaker and author of God’s Promise for Families and All God's Stones. Her passion in life is for couples, not just to stay married, but to be happily married. She loves reading, walking, traveling and bush camping. You'll find Noelene writing about God’s redeeming love and His ability to restore people and relationships at www.godspromise.co.za.

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