Are you thinking about getting married? Or, are you already married? You can build a successful marriage that lasts if you are willing to contribute the time and effort needed to realize that goal.
I know from experience that sustaining a good and successful marriage will take work. I have been privileged to be married for 49 years to the same wonderful woman and mother of our four children. This marriage has endured this long, by the grace of God; not necessarily because of any personal cleverness or initial marriage "know-it-all" on the part of my wife and me. Iíll share with you some of my thoughts on building successful marriages that last.
Marriage: Its meaning and significance
Marriage from an authentic point of view, is a legal contract, entered into by a man and woman (in a preponderance of marriages) to live together as husband and wife. Marriage has a comprehensive meaning and significance for many who believe that two persons are spiritually and legally joined together in holy matrimony before their Creator and in the presence of witnesses.
Participating in the marriage ceremony may well be the easiest part of being married for many couples. Marriage presents a challenge as well as an opportunity to experience a unique and special relationship for any man and woman willing to live together in a committed, "day-in, day-out" relationship.
The value of premarital counseling
Premarital counseling is highly recommended and need not be a "one-time" procedure. Opportunities for building a successful marriage increase when couples can discuss and arrive at a mutually satisfying understanding on the following areas of married life:
- Spiritual and religious beliefs and practices.
- Sex, sexual attitudes and desires.
- Money (its importance, and how you will make purchases and investment decisions).
- Health practices (attitudes and expectations on fitness, personal hygiene, etc.).
- Household management (roles and responsibilities)
- Children (child rearing and discipline of children).
- Sports, entertainment, vacation, recreation activities.
- In-laws and relatives visitation, social obligations and other areas of interest.
It is essential to know about each prospective mateís family background, for we are who we are to a great extent because of the experiences we had within the environment and circumstances of our particular family units. Denise Lang, in the book Family Harmony, points out that families are our connections to the past, the very heart of our identities. We are intensely affected by the attitudes and actions of the family we grew up in. Wise and thoughtful individuals will want to learn about the habits and customs of their future husband or wifeís family of origin. It is true: you donít just marry that person, but also their family upbringing. Be aware of that!
What does "commitment" to marriage mean?
There are good and successful marriages, but there are no perfect marriages. Every lasting and successful marriage includes an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. Expecting your mate to be everything to you is unrealistic and unwise. In todayís era of quick separations and divorces at the first sign of disagreement or trouble, it is important to ask yourself what your commitment to being married is.
Over the years, my wife and I have had a deep and abiding commitment to our marriage. The commitment to being married means that the couple has said to each other that "our marriage is not taken lightly or irresponsibly." We began our marriage on the foundation of love, honor, respect and a genuine mutual attraction for each other. We believed, and still do, in being faithful to each other, in not lying to each other and in trusting each other, whether present or apart.
Commitment to marriage is supported and enhanced when there is:
- Spiritual compatibility.
- Character compatibility.
- Ability to communicate with each other (learn to listen to your partner and respond with clear, specific, non-judging and non-vindictive dialogue.
- Mutual attraction for each other.
- Individuals who bring to the marriage a strong value system embracing the qualities of openness, honesty, integrity, trust, respect, love, forgiveness, understanding, and loyalty contribute greatly to the success of the marriage and a good relationship.
- A marriage in which two people have conflicting expectations and uncompromising demands has a likely chance to not succeed.
- Premarital counseling is extremely valuable and highly recommended.
- Resolve conflict in a constructive and beneficial manner. This includes focusing on the concerns of both individuals and finding options and ways that both win or gain. In almost every conflict someone does not feel loved, appreciated, respected, listened to, understood, or acknowledged.
- Marriage involves giving and taking; it means that one partner does not always win, while the other partner seldom wins. That is no longer negotiation; it is domination.
- The longevity of the marriage relationship is strengthened when the husband and wife allow each other time and space for themselves.
- Above all else, have faith; Marriage can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Your marriage can and will be successful if you are willing to put in the effort!