Many couples today struggle to have a healthy and lasting marriage. This blog will explore ways to make sure your marriage has the most potential to be fulfilling, satisfying, and to have long-lasting success.
If you are reading this the biggest question you should be asking yourself is “what qualifies you to write this blog?” And you should ask that! My wife Kathy and I are celebrating 38 years this week. But that is not a qualifier. Anyone with a little grit and tenacity can stick it out and get the years under their belt and still not have a fulfilling, satisfying, and loving marriage.
So why do I feel like I can write this blog? I’m not sure I feel qualified as much as it has to do with I want to write about the choices Kathy and I have made throughout our marriage. We’ve had times when we didn’t think this was going to work. But that was just a choice, not an answer or solution to what was really going on in our lives at the time. That decision came from very hurtful circumstances either from the past or the ones we were going through at the time. To just not work through it was neither healthy nor biblical. It is certainly appropriate to dissolve a marriage over major issues such as abuse or adultery but not because you don’t feel like you love each other anymore (love is a choice) or you are unhappy with where God has taken you in your journey together.
What makes a marriage work?
If you ask any successful (can I say happy as well?) couple who have been married 25+ years the answer will be “communication and compromise.” And those two things alone can certainly help to make your marriage healthy. But it does not stop there. Let’s take a look at some of the other keys that need to be present in order for your marriage to thrive and grow.
1-A good foundation of Biblical values
This is imperative for a lasting fruitful marriage. This includes more than just living moral lives but also carrying out biblical roles within the family unit including leadership, servanthood, & submission to one another in love.
2-Marriage takes a lot of work.
Most people think it’s supposed to be easy but anyone who’s been married more than a year knows differently. It is very rewarding when you invest in each other and keep at it because what you have together is worth that time and effort. Stop thinking “I” and start remembering that this is two people working together as one. Both make sacrifices for the good of the family unit rather than just doing things for themselves.
3-You have to learn how to forgive and let go of hurts.
Holding a grudge is not healthy in any relationship, nor does it honor God or your spouse. As much as we might want our spouses to be perfect they are going to disappoint at times. You can stop those downfalls from destroying your marriage by taking the time to deal with them as they come up instead of trying to sweep them under the rug where they will fester and grow into monsters that will destroy any hope for a fruitful marriage.
4-Much as forgiveness, you must also learn to apologize without reservation.
If your spouse really offends you then an apology may not be enough but it should never prevent one from apologizing for your part in an argument or disagreement. When you are truly wrong then you should be the first one to admit it, even if that means swallowing your pride, because that shows wisdom and humility which is attractive and is a part of the choice of love.
5-There must be a willingness to allow God to change you.
Each of us can probably think of some really bad character traits each of us have that have not been very beneficial on our journey together as husband and wife. Whether they were brought over from childhood or cultivated out of selfishness there is room for improvement here. If either spouse is unwilling to allow God’s Holy Spirit to begin changing them the other will continually suffer at their hands.
6-It’s important to learn how to live together peacefully.
When you make up your mind that no matter what your spouse does or says you are going to treat them with respect then you set yourself up for success as a couple. If they leave their clothes all over the house then it becomes easier if I say “I notice that you left your dirty clothes on the floor again… please clean those up tonight when we get home.” instead of screaming at them, “What is wrong with you people!! Why can’t you just pick up after yourselves? You know this bugs me and yet every day it’s like an earthquake hit and leaves everything in disarray!” Not only am I not communicating my expectations but I’ve also just made it worse by being disrespectful.
7-It is vital to have realistic expectations for your spouse.
Although you may have the highest of ideals you need to be prepared for some bumps along the way. Your spouse is not perfect. They may try really hard but they are still going to disappoint you sometimes, or they will do something that is unforgivable in your eyes. When that happens then it’s best to stop and remember that this person isn’t trying to hurt you on purpose. All people mess up sometimes so instead of seeing red give them a break and pray about it. Later when there’s time for reflection, not during an emotional moment, talk about it.
8-Communication has to be open, honest, and respectful.
Even though we read and study the scriptures, we can still get into arguments about what is really said or meant. When there is a disagreement it’s best to take time and discuss things. Arguing about biblical principles while you are angry will not lead to any fruitful conversation.
9- It’s important for each spouse to have their own individual personal relationship with Jesus.
And for each spouse to protect the emotional, spiritual, and physical health of the other. This twin responsibility is easy if both spouses are in agreement on this. If not then know that you are living in love. By protecting their wellbeing God will continue to grow you and make you a better person.
10-Never withhold sex from your spouse.
(Sexual abuse is another subject altogether) Often in marriage sex is used as a weapon to get your own way. If you continue withholding sex because someone’s been bad then eventually they’ll think it won’t happen so they may as do whatever they want even though they know it’s wrong. They might also withhold sex from you which is just as bad because abstinence for a married couple can lead to adultery and other problems.
The keys to a healthy marriage are choosing love every day, willingness to change and grow, learning to live together peacefully, having realistic expectations for your spouse, communicating openly and honestly, respecting one another, each spouse having an individual personal relationship with Jesus Christ and protecting the emotional, spiritual and physical health of the other. These principles are easier said than done but they are worth striving for. What have you found to be helpful in your own marriage?