7 Secrets of a Long and Satisfying Marriage

anniversary

My husband and I just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary. Yes, we married young. :-) No, these are not necessarily our secrets, though we’ve tried to incorporate them into our marriage through the years. Actually, I could sum up the secret of our long and satisfying marriage in three words: God‘s amazing grace.

But as marriage enrichment leaders through the years we’ve had the privilege of working with many couples. And in his minstry position, my husband has had the opportunity to work with and counsel numerous couples.

What makes a marriage flourish? This list is not exhaustive, but here are seven secrets of a long and satisfying marriage that we’ve observed through the years: (If you’ve been married over 25 years, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes a marriage last. You can do so at the end of this blog).

1. Build your marriage on the right spiritual foundation, with Christ as the center.

This includes a respect for each other and submission to God. Couples with mutual faith and spiritual goals who pray together do tend to stay together. (Ephesians 5:21, NASB). But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you(Matthew 6:33, NKJV).

2. Seek to understand and appreciate the God-given differences and uniqueness of your spouse.

Couples can spend a lifetime of fruitless, unhappy years trying to change each other to mirror their own personalities instead of celebrating and being grateful for their differences. Men and women are different. In addition, your spouse’s strengths (that you might call irritations) may be the very tool God wants to use to compliment your weakness in that area. You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex (Psalm 139:12-14, NLT). Love does cover a multitude of flaws! (I Peter 4:8, NASB).

3. Draw the right conclusions about the things that happen to you and your marriage.

Recognize the lies, “It will always be this way;” “Things will never change;” or “I married the wrong person,” and make a mutual commitment to work on difficult issues that may arise. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT). Romans 8:28 is another great principle to help you keep the right perspective.

4. Continually practice communication that includes talking–and listening–with a genuine effort to understand.

Practicing “fast-food” communication helps. Think about talking with your spouse like the cashiers do on the microphone when you’re in line at a fast-food restaurant. They repeat your order back to you until they (hopefully) get it right. James 1:19 is a great rule of thumb. Taking the time to truly understand your mate by “drawing out” their thoughts takes it a step further: Counsel in the heart of man [woman] is like deep water, But a man [woman] of understanding will draw it out (Proverbs 20:5, NKJV).

5. Become a life-long a student of  your spouse, including learning and “speaking” their love language.

In Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he shares five ways that all of us best “receive” love: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and gifts. It’s a fascinating, but rewarding task to discover what your spouse’s love language really is. Chapman’s book is now available in paperback, and if you are interested, you can find it here. I have a few other helpful marriage books listed on my resource page, but there are tons more available.

6.  Be willing to get help should your marriage “hit the wall.”

Most couples will occasionally “hit the wall.” That happened to us fifteen years into our marriage. This often happens to a runner about halfway through his race. That’s the point where his body is feeling the pressure of the race, and he must make a decision: to quit or to get a second wind and keep on going to finish. Same thing in a marriage. At that point, don’t hestitate to get help from a trusted counselor. We all come into marriage with baggage. Sometimes we need help “unpacking” it. Determine that the benefits are worth the work. Marriage is built on commitment, through the good times–and the bad. Love is patient…love never fails (I Corinthians 13:4, 8, NIV).

7. Have fun together.

Divert daily; withdraw weekly; abandon annually–these were the challenges we heard from a friend early on in our marriage. Take time to get away and nurture the relationship God gave you. No money? Cheap dates with your spouse are plentiful. Be creative, and make it a priority to have fun. Laughter is not only a great healer. It’s also great way to nourish a growing marriage. A merry heart does good, like medicine (Proverbs 22:5, NKJV).

And yes, that is our picture. My husband and I decided to make this fun “James Bond” pose while celebrating our 45th anniversary last year on vacation.

Would You Share Your Secrets for a Long and Satisfying Marriage?

I know others would benefit by your comments. If you’ve been married at least 25 years, what are some secrets you can share with us? What are the things that have helped make your marriage strong? You will not be hounded, prodded, or automatically added to my mailing list if you leave a comment. Feel free to email this Christian blog to someone or to re-post on FacebookTwitter, or other social media, using the buttons below. If you want to re-post any of my blogs on your own blog or website, please contact me for permission first. And if you’d like to, you can sign up for my blog/newsletter and updates at the top of this website page/sidebar. Your e-mail address will never be sold or given to anyone! Post your comments below, or go to the  place where it says “Speak Your Mind” at the end of my blog here.

Note about Last Week’s Giveaway

Some were asking where to find Linda Shepherd’s book offered last week as a giveaway, When You Need a Miracle. You can also find it at this website.

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    Comments

    2 Responses to “7 Secrets of a Long and Satisfying Marriage”

    1. Donna Clark Goodrich on July 23rd, 2012 9:09 am

      We’ll be married 52 years this August. As a joke I tell people “We couldn’t afford a divorce and neither one of us wanted the kids.” But seriously, divorce was never in our vocabulary. Our secret: Church was/is a big part of our life; we’ve prayed through many difficulties (he has many health problems, and I’ve nearly lost him 12 times; our daughter has an insulin pump; and our pastor son-in-law has MS); and through the years we’ve learned to make our differences work FOR us instead of AGAINST us.

    2. Rebecca Barlow Jordan on July 26th, 2012 11:13 am

      Thanks, Donna, for that powerful testimony! What an encouragement to readers who see how has kept your commitment strong through the years!

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