Building a Marriage that Lasts
Forty years ago, on a warm June 11 day, Teresa and I stood hand in hand, exchanging vows as we embarked on a journey of love and commitment. As we celebrate our marriage anniversary, I reflect on the lessons learned along the way—lessons that have transformed our relationship and taught us the true meaning of commitment and love.
Drawing from four decades of marriage, there are six crucial principles that have fortified our relationship and guided us through both marital and life’s challenges. I hope they can help others too cultivate a lasting and fulfilling marriage that stands the test of time.
1) Mutual Trust and Respect
In a marriage, they are the foundation of a healthy and loving relationship. Just like you trust your best friend to keep your secrets safe, you should also trust your partner completely. Trust is built when both partners are honest and transparent with each other. It’s like being open books, sharing your thoughts, and being reliable so that your partner knows they can always count on you.
Respect is about treating each other with kindness and consideration. It means valuing your partner’s feelings, ideas, and boundaries. When you respect each other, you create a safe and nurturing environment where your love can grow and flourish. Mistakes can happen in any relationship, and when it does it’s crucial to take responsibility and work together to rebuild trust through open communication.
The scripture that comes to my mind is Colossians 3:13 (NIV):
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Trust and respect in a partnership are demonstrated through forgiveness and forbearance. Just as God forgives us, we should also forgive one another and be patient with each other’s flaws and mistakes. Trust and respect form the bedrock of a successful marriage.
2) Effective Communication
Imagine two cups connected by a string, and you can talk to each other through that string. Communication is like that magical string that keeps couples connected and allows them to understand each other’s feelings and needs. It’s about openly and respectfully sharing your thoughts, emotions, and dreams with your partner.
Just like you would share exciting news with your best friend, share your ups and downs with your spouse. Set aside a special time each week to talk about both the small and big things in your lives. Remember, communication is not just about talking; it’s also about listening. Listen carefully to your partner without interrupting or judging. Paying attention not only to their words but also to their body language.
Relationships will have its bumps and disagreements, but it’s essential to handle conflicts with care and respect. I like Proverbs 15:1 (NIV):
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
This verse should remind us of the power of gentle and kind words in diffusing conflicts. When communicating with our partner, responding with gentleness can prevent unnecessary arguments and promote understanding. Open communication fosters emotional intimacy, allowing couples to create a unified vision for their shared journey ahead.
3) Nurture Emotional Intimacy
Emotional intimacy is like a warm and cozy blanket that wraps around you, making you feel safe and loved. It’s about being open and vulnerable with your partner without fear of judgment. To nurture emotional intimacy, share your thoughts, fears, and dreams with your partner, just like you would with your closest friend. Show empathy and support when your partner opens up to you. Be genuinely interested in their emotions and experiences, just like you’d ask your friend how their day was.
Spend quality time together. Plan special date nights or engage in shared hobbies that bring you closer. Celebrate the little victories and accomplishments, reinforcing the bond between partners and creating a loving and positive environment. We read in 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV):
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Peter here emphasizes the profound nature of love, encouraging us to love one another deeply. Emotional intimacy is nurtured through a genuine and deep love that allows us to accept and support each other, flaws and all. As couples nurture emotional intimacy, they begin to forge a unified vision for their life journey together.
4) Create a Unified Vision
A marriage is like a fantastic adventure that two explorers embark on together. For this journey to be successful, both partners need to have common values and life goals, especially when it comes to faith and spirituality. Talk to each other about your priorities and dreams. Discussing your future aspirations will help ensure that you are on the same page.
The verse in Amos 3:3 (NIV):
“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
emphasizes the necessity of agreement and unity in walking together. In a marriage, a shared vision allows both partners to move forward together with a common purpose and direction. Of course, every explorer has their unique way of exploring, and that’s okay. Embrace and appreciate each other’s differences, just like friends with different interests.
You can still work together, despite having different opinions or values, by finding middle ground and compromise. Celebrate your achievements together, like celebrating reaching a landmark on your adventure map. Alongside a shared vision, addressing financial matters ensures financial harmony and security in the marriage.
5) Money Matters Matter
Money can sometimes feel like a stormy sea in a marriage. To navigate this sea successfully, it’s important to openly discuss money matters and create a shared approach to financial management. Start by being transparent about your financial situations, including debts, savings, and spending habits. Creating a budget that aligns with your joint goals and individual priorities is like planning the resources for your journey. In Luke 14:28 (NIV):
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”
This advises us to consider the costs and be prepared before embarking on any financial endeavor. Set boundaries for discretionary spending to prevent financial stress and promote unity in money matters by sharing your attitudes toward saving, investing, and financial planning. Be willing to compromise and find common ground on financial decisions fosters a sense of financial security and trust in your partnership. Embracing change as a team allows couples to navigate life’s challenges and opportunities together.
6) Focus on Growth and Adaptability
Just like a beautiful butterfly goes through different stages of transformation, you and your partner will also change over time. Embracing change as a team is like embracing the ever-changing seasons of life. Solomon wrote this in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV):
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Here he acknowledges that life, as well as marriage is full of different seasons and changes. Embracing growth and adaptability involves recognizing the changing seasons and being willing to adjust and embrace new circumstances. And when change happens remember Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV):
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Here we are reminded of God’s ability to bring new things into our lives. Embracing growth and adaptability involves letting go of the past and being open to the new opportunities that God provides. Your marriage can grow stronger through the experiences you share, and during the ups and downs, remember that marriage isn’t about being perfect; it’s about making progress together. Overcome obstacles as a team and you will grow closer as a couple.
Amidst all these adventures and growth, never forget to prioritize self-care and individual growth. Taking care of your physical and emotional health is like recharging your energy for the journey ahead. Pursue personal interests and hobbies and encourage your partner to do the same. Supporting each other’s growth and development helps maintain a sense of self within the marriage. Remember, a strong marriage is a union of two unique individuals who choose to walk side by side, complementing and supporting each other.
No marriage is perfect, but with God’s grace and the willingness to put Christ at the center, couples can create a union that withstands the tests of time. As you and your partner embark on your marital adventure hold each other’s hands, cherish the moments of growth and change, and celebrate the beauty of your unique and loving connection.
Let your love be a shining beacon, inspiring others with the power of faith and commitment, and may God bless your union abundantly and grant you the strength and wisdom to nurture a marriage that blossoms with love, joy, and happiness for years to come.
Ready to grow in your relationship? Whether you’re dating, engaged, looking for marriage enrichment, or navigating a marriage crisis, the Relationship Fitness Centre® will give you tools for you to embrace God’s big perspective and vision for you as a couple! Have questions? Contact Ron Buschman, the Couples’ Ministry Director.
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