“What’s the secret to a happy marriage?”
This is the question I posed to my 89-year-old grandfather who has been in a happy marriage for double my lifetime. He smiled a cheeky grin before he jokingly responded: “The secret is to stay married. You know I have been married for almost 68 years – to the same woman!”
You see, marriage is not all sunshine and roses, and for many, it is a great feat to remain committed to the same person for life. Some of us may never reach a 68-year marriage milestone, but we can all certainly strive to love and honor our spouses every day, for as long as we live.
So, what do we do when the honeymoon glow loses its luster? How will we stay committed after we have a fallout or no longer see eye to eye?
Even for the most God-fearing and loving couples, marriage is a constant work in progress. It is time invested and it will certainly take persistence to grow and deepen your relationship. The challenges may come, but the choice is ours to love, serve and honor our spouse each day.
So, my next question is…
“Is marriage worth it?”
According to my wise, old grandad, marriage is certainly worth every effort. It is growing old together, sharing life together, raising a family together, and having someone beside you, through the joys and hardships of life. Always.
Sadly, in many marriages today, divorce is always a viable choice. Even if it is never verbally communicated, it’s the card we keep in our back pockets for when we need a way out or we ‘fall out of love’ with our spouse. Yes, I understand that there are many complex reasons and justifications for ending a marriage today, but in the end, we need to consider God’s ideal plan for marriage in the first place. Furthermore, we need to ask ourselves and our spouses if we are certainly willing to do everything in our power – and in the strength of Christ – to stay committed and love one another with intentionality for the rest of our lives.
If we are to portray the unconditional love of Christ – as one who gave Himself for His bride – then surely our marriages should reflect this kind of commitment, too. In the end, our marriages should be the one relationship we uphold, fight for, protect and guard with our lives.
Marriage the way God intended is a beautiful thing. A God-ordained thing. And when we commit to marriage from the very start and work on it daily, we choose life in abundance with our spouse.
So, What’s the Play Call?
How do we build a happy marriage that lasts through the test of time?
Pray. Keep your spouse in prayer daily and spend some time praying together as a couple. Pray for your marriage, your family, and anything else the Lord places on your heart.
Forgive daily. Do not harbor hurts and disappointments in your marriage. Choose to forgive your spouse every day so that bitterness does not set in.
Compliment your spouse. Choose to speak positive things over your spouse every day and verbalize your thoughts so that they feel encouraged, appreciated, and loved. Your words have the power to uplift and bring change.
Foster romance. Give and receive affection to strengthen your bond. Remember that physical touch and intimacy are important, even if alone time needs to be scheduled into your planner!
Talk often. Set aside time to catch up every day. Open communication is key to a healthy marriage. Connect with your spouse randomly throughout the day – send a text or call just to say hello and check-in.
Serve and sacrifice. Sometimes we need to give way on our own plans and ideas to accommodate those of our spouse. A little sacrifice can go a long way to show your commitment and appreciation.
Affair-proof your marriage. Don’t put yourself in compromising situations with people of the opposite sex. Avoid sharing intimate details with others who are not your spouse. Affairs can happen long before things become physical, so guard your emotions and heart every day.
Be thankful. It’s often hard to see the good when we feel stuck in a rut in our marriages. Keep a gratitude journal and write down all the things you are thankful for – about your spouse and marriage. Focus on the positives and gain a higher perspective based on gratitude.
So, whether you’ve been married for a few months or many decades, you, too, can choose to love your spouse in practical ways every day and build a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime.