Knowing that 60 % of marriages end in divorce I decided to reflect on some things I’ve discovered make the difference between a marriage that is lucky to survive versus one that thrives. Here are seven things that set great marriages apart from the average. I pray it encourages your relationship in some way, shape, or form.
1. GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Aimee and I both knew each other before we got married. We dated for over 4 years before getting married. No, I don’t think there is any magic number of months or years that a couple must date before marriage. But, I do believe that two people should at least have a true idea of who they are marrying before they walk that aisle and say “I Do”. You need to do a background check and most of all a character check of the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with on this earth. Time reveals a lot of things and character is one of them.
2. LEARN HOW TO FIGHT
We learned how to fight before we got married and we continue to learn. Over time we’ve learned how to fight and make up each day. Until you’ve had some major disagreements and learned how to resolve those together you can’t have a deep relationship. Don’t be afraid of conflict, but see it as an opportunity to grow closer together even if you are worlds apart. No relationship is without conflict and there will always be differences that must be worked out. Any time I hear a couple tell me that they’ve never had a major disagreement that lets me know two things. One, they aren’t married. Two, they have not really gotten to know each other. They just have a surface, puppy love relationship. Learn how to fight and deal with everyday conflict with love and understanding. Don’t let things pile up until you explode or the other person is packing their bags to leave.
3. DON’T FORSAKE YOUR FAITH
Feelings come and go. Beauty is fleeting. But, faith is eternal and the glue necessary for keeping any marriage solid and two people on the same page.Does it matter that they aren’t a Christian? You bet it does. Does it matter that one of you see faith as a huge priority and the other person doesn’t? Absolutely. Most marriages that end in divorce do so because their relationship is built around circumstantial feelings and wishful thinking. The scripture is clear that unless a house or a “marriage” is built on Christ “The Rock” it’s foundation is destined to collapse. We started out united in faith and that continues to be the greatest bridge in our relationship.We both know that faith is the glue. For most couples “Faith is an after thought and something that each person keeps in their pocket. The truth is without God’s help and grace, no marriage can be what God created it to be. The only thing that separates a great marriage from a train wreck is God’s goodness and power to bring oneness between two imperfect people.
4. MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER
Nothing is a greater “Red Flag” to me than a couple who says the kids come first and they are our world. Well guess what, you are raising your kids to one day leave, but you and your spouse will be living together the rest of your lives. If you build everything around the kids now you will have no relationship apart from them later. Maybe you don’t have kids, but the two of you never spend quality time together due to work or outside interests. Make time for each other or you will drift apart even if you live in the same house. We have always taken time for “US”. A lot can get in the way of a marriage. Work, Kids, etc…You have to make time for your relationship. You can’t build around kids, work, or anything else. I love my kids to death, but my kids know that “Momma” comes first. I love being a pastor, but I don’t put it above being a husband.
5. TAKE YOUR VOWS SERIOUSLY
A great marriage takes two people wholeheartedly committed to loving, cherishing, and honoring one another as long as they both shall live. We have never seen divorce as an option. We don’t look for a way out of our issues, but for the best way to get through the adversity in this life “Together”. I’ll never forget a gentleman I worked with several years ago who was happily married. This man had been married for over 20 years and one day we were eating lunch together. While he was eating lunch I saw him reading something he pulled out of his wallet. I said, What are you reading so seriously over there? He said, “This is a copy of my wedding vows I promised to my wife years ago. I pull them out from time to time so that I can remember what I promised her.” Wow, I thought to myself. This man takes his wedding vows very seriously and he had a great marriage to prove it.
6. REALIZE THERE ARE NO PERFECT MARRIAGES
Many ignorant people think the grass is always greener on the other side. Oh, if I could only find the right person and the perfect person things would be perfect. We both know there are no perfect marriages. The grass is not always greener on the other side. When you get married you go from one imperfect person to two imperfect people seeking to become one. Every marriage is a challenge and every couple has to learn over time how to love and understand the person they’ve chosen to marry.
7. UNDERSTAND WHAT TRUE LOVE IS…
We both understand LOVE is more than feeling. You hear people saying all the time that they’ve fallen in and out of love with someone. You may grow frustrated, grow apart, or grow not to appreciate the person they have become. But, love is a choice. Love is to choice to care for someone no matter what they may do or say. This doesn’t mean you just let someone do whatever they want to do with no consequence or accountability. But, it does mean that love is risky. You have to put your whole heart out there. Love should not be dependent upon how I feel otherwise you will leave early. But, Love is a commitment to love , cherish, and honor your partner come rain, snow, or sunshine. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health as long as you both shall live.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.