Marriage is the most intimate relationship we commit to. Sadly about 50% of marriages end in divorce. Even more sadly, in the church, the number is nearly the same! What does it take to make a marriage work? To make it rich and satisfying? Books have been written, so this article won’t be comprehensive but I will share some essentials for a good marriage.
How bad is divorce. If you have been through it, you know. My friend, Pat, went through a divorce then lost a wife in death. He told me divorce was worse!
Divorce means we have failed at the most important and intimate relationship we have in this world. And failure brings guilt, pain, bitterness, frustration and anger. There is no escape from these emotions.
Because of these emotions, divorce also makes a second marriage far more challenging.
But a good marriage is possible. And a good marriage is a powerful testimony to the world. When my wife and I tell people how long we’ve been married it always makes an impact. When I meet people who have been married for decades, I am always impressed.
Seven Essentials for a Good Marriage
Trust. No relationship can survive without trust. In marriage it is essential. This trust must be given from the start. It is not earned but is implicit in the relationship.
Compromise. Partners don’t agree on everything, even in the best marriage. Without compromise, things begin to crumble. Very few things are so important that compromise cannot fix.
Communication. Honesty is the best policy. Sharing frustrations and triumphs is important. As far as possible, there should be no secrets in marriage. I served in the military for 20 years. For many of those years I was entrusted with classified information. I could not share much of my day with my wife. Those were difficult times because we share everything!
Romance. I confess that I am an abject failure in the area of romance. I have had a few strong moments but I mostly cringe when I see those romantic jewelry ads! Still, attempts in the area of romance are important.
Focus. Every marriage needs some points of focus — vacations and travel, shared work, date night, goals. Even when you are raising children, your marriage needs attention and focus. If your children are your only focus, what will you do when they leave home?
Spiritual unity. Common faith is important. It is best for the couple to follow Jesus together. Spiritual unity becomes a point of focus.
Commitment. This is certainly not the least important essential on this list. Relationships are hard. Marriage is even harder. You must be completely committed to it to truly make it work. Sometimes the commitment of one is enough to make it through rough patches. With faith and commitment, you can overcome anything!
What is a godly marriage?
God’s plan is forever. His desire is that a man and woman come together and become one and live in complete unity with each other throughout their lifetimes.
God is the giver of mercy and mercy is needed in marriage. He gives enough mercy so that forgiveness is always possible. The marriage relationship needs a never-ending supply of forgiveness. I am convinced that we will never get to the point in marriage that occasional forgiveness is not necessary.
God is also the giver of grace. Grace is important in marriage. We must be willing to give to one another without expecting anything in return.
God is the author of unconditional love. It is his nature to lavish that love on those that follow Jesus. When couples follow Jesus together, they receive more of that love than they can hold. Therefore, it overflows into all their relationships, particularly their marriage.
What does a godly marriage say?
A good marriage is an inspiration for every married couple. Young married couples need to see those who have been married successfully for 30, 40, 50 years and more! It tells them it can be done.
A good marriage also testifies to the power and work of God and the great help he gives to couples who are determined to honor him with their lives.
The love that is shared in a good marriage touches so many people — children and family, friends and acquaintances. And that kind of love is contagious!
Joy also marks the marriage with a sort of contagion that touches everyone connected to that sacred relationship. A godly marriage exudes a joy that lifts everyone who knows the couple.
The godly marriage demonstrates strongly a commitment that can encourage and strengthen the relationships around it.
Find a strong godly marriage and observe it. Learn from that relationship. Ask questions and grow.
If you are married, let God help you grow in it and find all the joy and love he wants to give! And share your experiences in the comments.