Too many couples measure success in marriage by the number of years they’ve avoided divorce. I have counseled many men that make statements to the effect of their parents’ divorce was the best thing that ever happened to them. Imagine that for a moment. A grown, married father saying the best part of his childhood was when his parents divorced.
Unfortunately, I believe these men. The constant anger and turmoil that plagued their household was suddenly removed when their parents separated. Of course, the anger and turmoil was replaced with all sorts of other issues and challenges that follow the divide of a marriage. But these men describe years and years of tremendous stress and strife among their parents. Some of these marriages were well beyond the twenty year mark, yet most of those years are marked with extreme disfunction.
Is a marriage successful if it lasts fifty years, yet scares family members with anger and discontent? Of course not! A successful marriage leaves all with a deep desire for such a personal connection. A successful marriage is ever increasing in happiness. A successful marriage demonstrates a supernatural love to everyone that witnesses it.
I happen to agree with Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today when he says that you have a 100% chance of a successful marriage. And I’m not willing to negotiate on my definition of a successful marriage. Even given this high standard, you have a 100% chance of a successful marriage.
We cite statistics like 50% of marriages end in divorce. Again we see the measurement being divorce. Of those 50% of marriage that don’t end in divorce, how many of those are successful marriages? Yet have I to see such a statistic.
So how do we have a successful marriage? Well, we follow the biblical instructions for marriage, of course. Let’s examine five steps to maintaining a successful marriage.
Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. (Mark 10:43)
Service to your spouse simply means meeting their needs before your own. Women have needs like security and open communication. Men have needs like respect and physical intimacy. In order to be a great spouse, one must first be a servant ready to meet the needs of their mate.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)
Finding a spouse is hard work. Find is a verb that requires action – a lot of action. Keeping a spouse is equally a lot of action. The courting phase of a relationship is filled with a lot of intentional action on the part of both. The purpose of all this intentional action is to lead to marriage. The action of courtship doesn’t stop after one finds a spouse.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
Life is full of priority choices. The marriage relationship should remain the number one priority. Career, children, and hobbies can easily creep in to challenge that priority. Don’t allow your calendar to fill to the point you have no time for your number one priority – your relationship with your spouse.
And let us consider how to spur one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Every marriage relationship needs time together for the purpose of encouraging one another. This time together can be as simple as a trip to the grocery store without the kids or as grand as a week long cruise in the Bahamas. Avoid what is the habit of so many marriages, plan for some time of recess that allows a break from the daily rigors of life and family. Let this time of recess encourage and reenergize your marriage relationship.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)
Marriage is hard work. I know this isn’t the picture of marriage that is painted in movies, but it is the reality. Hard work requires the exertion of lots of energy. Be careful that you don’t allow the stress of a career or the rigors of parenting rob your spouse of all of your energy. You manage the energy level available to your spouse with proper eating habits, adequate sleep, and careful consideration of your daily calendar.
Knowing these five steps to a successful marriage are useless if you don’t actually put them into action. Knowledge is but a small percentage of what makes up a successful marriage. Effort and action makes all the difference in the world.
1) Discuss these 5 steps with your spouse today.
2) Write down specific plans to meet the needs of your spouse this week.
3) Plan a date night this week and a small getaway within the next month.
4) Determine how you need to change your daily and nightly routines to allow adequate energy for your spouse.
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