My husband and I have been married for 29 years. While our relationship is far from perfect, over time, we have learned some simple secrets to having a delightful marriage. Our marriage has gotten stronger, more secure, and unbelievably better.
We married fresh out of college. We were young, starry-eyed, and entirely in love. It is safe to say we were clueless as to what it took to build a strong, satisfying marriage. We foolishly thought our deep love for one another alone would cover any faults, mistakes, or issues we had.
A few years after my husband and I got married, he began a new job out of town. He traveled home on weekends, but during the week, it was just my daughter and me. During those six months of living alone, I became very self-sufficient. After I moved to the same city where his new job was, and we were together again, I experienced a hard period of readjustment. I had grown accustomed to doing things my way. I became self-righteous, and when angry with my husband, I was somewhat spiteful.
The undoing of my behavior took time. A combination of reading the Bible, lengthy discussions with my husband, mentoring from a friend, and maturity all played a part in helping me recognize my sin and harmful behavior. Many years have passed since then, and we have faced other marital issues, some of his doing and some mine, but because of those problems, our marriage is a thousand times better. In the past 29 years, we have learned what the meaning of true love, of sacrifice, of honor, of service, of loyalty, and joy in our partnership. We learned the secrets of a happy marriage.
Here are three simple secrets to a delightful marriage:
1. You need each other.
When we toss aside our pride and self-sufficiency, we realize our need for each other. Arrogance can crush love quicker than most anything. True love is built on acceptance and kindness toward another; so, protect your relationship with your beloved from the harshness of arrogance. We need our spouses even when there is conflict.
Pride and arrogance tell us we can do things all by ourselves, but marriages are not two people living solo but side by side. Rather than, “Me first,” humility allows us to say, “No, you first.” Humility is the quality that lets us go more than halfway to meet the needs and demands of our mates.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis.
2. You cannot change your spouse.
A happy marriage flourishes when both partners are free to be themselves and have choices. We cannot always have things our way. Seek harmony in your relationship with your loved one. Don’t take detours to total agreement. Talk about your differences until there is a full understanding and don’t be afraid of a healthy compromise. We desire to live with our spouses in peace. Accept your mate for who he is and how uniquely God has created him. Celebrate those differences!
Psalm 139:14 (ESV) “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
3. You are not perfect.
We are all flawed, we all make mistakes, and we all are imperfect. It is helpful to admit our weaknesses, our failures, and our shortcomings to one another. Instead of waiting to be confronted with an issue, confess your faults.
Self-righteousness is one of the hardest sins to avoid because it is so much easier to see other people’s faults than to recognize our own. Rather than look for faults in others, let’s try to look for the good in others and work to correct the flaws within ourselves.
Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG) “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”
What lessons have you learned in marriage? I would love to hear.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12