Answers In Love

Winning at Life God's Way

How to Build an Enjoyable Marriage That Lasts

dreamstime_xs_30596270Do you enjoy your marriage? I hope so. I still remember hearing my friend’s grandmother say when I was young, “There’s nothing better than a good marriage and nothing worse than a bad one.”

Kansas resident Lawrence Ripple apparently agreed. He robbed a bank in hopes of going to jail just to escape his bad marriage. His plan backfired when the judge sentenced him to six months of home confinement. You can read his story here!

Marriages truly can make or break the quality of our lives. Successful lasting marriages require four ingredients. As you read through the following list, think about how your own relationship stacks up.

4 Essential Elements of A Good Marriage:

1.     Commitment.

Marriages fail when partners stay only as long as the arrangement feels good. Relationships always start with an elated, “Cloud Nine” feeling that fades once the hard business of real life begins.

Relationships reach healthy maturity only after couples weather bad times. Each of us brings enough selfishness into marriage to cause strife. Wise couples know that strife signals a need to buckle down, correct selfishness and grow together. They know that discord results from wrong behavior, not marrying the wrong person.

“…they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

2.     Communication.

Our busy and competitive culture makes it hard to be heard. We all want someone to listen. Too often we respond to what someone else says, not by listening, but by sharing some related story about our self.

Happy marriages enjoy quality communication. Partners take turns sharing personal information. They disclose what they honestly want, think and feel on various topics. They also listen to one another.

Good communication helps partners deeply understand and appreciate each other. Many people enter marriage without communication skills and need training.

“…speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15)

3.     Conflict Resolution.

No couple always agrees about everything. Conflict happen in marriage. Good partners acquire conflict-resolution skills. They know resolving conflicts will keep their marriage strong.

Conflicts only hurt a marriage when they go unresolved or get resolved in a bad way. When conflict arises, do not a) ignore the problem hoping it will go away, b)  try to win an argument or c) surrender to keep a superficial peace. Make real peace by working toward an agreement both partners accept.

In Real Relationships, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot describe conflict as “the price we pay for growing closer.” Marriages grow when couples resolve conflicts. Books, pastors and counselors can all help couples master conflict resolution skills.

“a future awaits those who seek peace.” (Psalm 37:37)

4.     Grace.

Marriage represents the locked-in pairing of two imperfect people. Hurts and disappointments occur. We can enjoy imperfect relationships by choosing to forgive the hurts and disappointments that happen along the way.

It’s best to confront and correct problems that stem from selfish and immature behavior. Bringing in outside help can make all the difference when a couple feels stuck in some problem.

However, when problems stem from things that won’t change, it’s best to simply extend grace. For example, my detail-oriented husband suffers ongoing frustration because I’m a “big picture’ person who misses a lot of details. It helps our marriage that he accepts the way my brain works.

“Be kind to each other, tender-hearted…forgiving …” (Ephesians 4:32)

How’d You Do?

How many of the four ingredients do you have in your relationship? Here’s what your score means:

None:   Emergency! See a counselor immediately!

One:     Problems Ahead! See a counselor soon.

Two:      Good! Room for improvement. Get some training.

Three:  Great! You’ve got some good skills. Build in what’s missing

Four:     Amazing! Consider becoming a marriage mentor!

You and your partner may enjoy common activities, friends and interests but still have room to grow your marriage. Build in these four ingredients to make your marriage its  best. Get help if you feel stuck. Life’s too short to live dissatisfied when it’s not necessary.

If you know someone struggling in their marriage, please share this post with them. Also, let me know if you find this article helpful and which (if any) of these ingredients you think your marriage needs. Meanwhile, remember to…

Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

 Cheryl

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About Cheryl Savageau

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

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