As a Teaching and Counseling Pastor, I come across marriages of all shapes, sizes, ages, and stages.
There are those in the very beginning of their marriage. They have no kids, all the time in the world, and life is just one long extended date. But then there are those who’s marriage is down the road a bit. They are in the throes of raising children, battling time demands, and often living more like like room mates than spouses.
I see some who are deeply in love, while others are so distant they’re thinking of getting out. Some started their relationship officially with an elaborate and well coordinated wedding ceremony, while others had no wedding ceremony at all. They just began living together and have continued down that same ambiguous track.
In the face of all of this diversity, I find myself asking questions like…
- What is it that keeps some couples together while others fall apart?
- Is there some sort of secret sauce, or is it just luck?
- What is it that causes some couples to still be committed to one another after 60 years, and others to call it quits after a year or two.
- What is the difference between a marriage that stays together and one that come apart?
Researchers work hard to find the “right“ answers to these questions, but it can be hard to pin down. Marriage is complicated and driven by many factors both inside and outside the marriage.
I don’t profess to have the “right“ answers to why some couples stay together and others fall apart, but after nearly 25 years of observing and counseling couples…and nearly 40 years of being married to the same person…I’ve collected some clues about how to stay together from the altar to the nursing home.
What follows are my suggestions on how to keep your marriage together when others are falling apart. These suggestions are not listed in any particular order, and the list is certainly not complete. You may find that some of the suggestions are pertinent to your marriage while others are not. But taken together, these small and simple suggestions can go a long way to helping you have a marriages that goes the distance.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Give the benefit of the doubt.
- Put their needs ahead of your wants.
- Don’t confuse your wants with your needs.
- Lighten up and learn to have fun.
- Manager your resources well.
- Love your spouse as if you were going to lose them.
- Stop chasing the glamour and fall in love with the grind.
- Spend more time than money.
- Turn moments into memories.
- Go heavy on encouragement and light on criticism.
- Make sex important, but not too important.
- Go overboard on patience.
- Rely on commitment more than compatibility.
- Keep your partnering ahead of your parenting.
- Fix yourself, not your spouse.
- Focus more on faith than on frustrations.
- Give enough “yes’s” to earn you some “no’s.”
- Ask yourself, “Will this matter 40 years from now?”
Finally, one last suggestion that comes both from personal conviction and experience, as well as research…
Share a faith in Christ that is bigger then the two of you.
These things are neither magic, nor rocket science. They are just some simple, down-to-earth things that will help build compassion, comraderie, and commitment in marriage. These things will help your marriage go the distance, when other marriages are taking the off-ramp.
What are your thoughts on the above list? Are there things you would add to the list? Are there things you would take away from the list? Leave your comments. Let’s start a conversation that will help us all stay together longer.
Copyright © 2018 Bret Legg