Believe it or not, there really are secrets to a great marriage. I’ve been marriage for only 17+ years so much of this info is what I’ve gleaned (and usually put to practice) from people with much more experience than I. These are just the highlights and each of these points should be studied in much more depth than I touch on here.
Probably the most important think is to recognize marriage for what it is. It’s NOT a relationship like ANY other on the planet. It was created by God Himself in Genesis. First He made BOTH man and woman in His image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) He then joined them together in a unique way “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). Furthermore, he created this relationship to be centered on Christ, “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). This new relationship of THREE is a representative of the trinity itself. Christ assumes the God-head position, the husband assumes the sacrificial servant (Christ) position and the wife assumes the counselor, adviser (Holy Spirit) position. It is for this these reasons that Satan see marriage as something so important to attack. So recognize marriage for what it is.
Next remove emotion. I know this sounds weird but hear me out. I’m not saying take away emotion, just move it to second place. Most likely you actually connected together on an emotional level. Hopefully by the time you tie(d) the knot, you add a much deeper connection than emotion. You see, emotions climb and fade like mountains and valleys. If your relationships foundation is emotional, it will be very difficult to weather the storms you certainly will face. Learn that love is a DECISION instead of a feeling. You likely have said things like ‘he makes me happy’ or ‘she makes me feel loved’, etc. But God did not bring you together to make each other happy. He designed your spouse perfectly to make you Holy. (read Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas). The very things that eventually will bother you are there by design, so you can learn and grow through those struggles. When you accept this, you face the challenges not with how can you change or fix your spouse. Instead you face those moments with the question of “What is God telling me or asking me to change?” Remember that love is a decision.
Finally recognize that each of you communicates differently. If you haven’t already read it, read “The Five Love Languages” together. There is actually no shortage of marriage communication books because it’s widely known that many (if not most) problems in a marriage stem from communication breakdowns. This particular book discusses how different people show and hear love. There is nothing more important to understand than what your spouse’s love language is. If your spouse is actively showing love in their language but you are not recognizing it because you don’t understand that language, they will feel under appreciated and you will feel unloved. These are powerful emotions and will lead you into the valley of marriage. If you’ve fully appreciated my first two points, you’ll weather it but with much pain. If you’ve not grasped the first two points, these emotions will end the marriage. But by learning each other’s love languages (and practicing them yourselves) you will learn to show love how your spouse is wired to understand it, and vice versa. Learn each other’s love language.
There you have it. Three vital points to remember for any marriage. Each of these points could be studied for years. In fact, you should never stop investing time and energy on making your marriage better and stronger. The enemy will never stop trying to destroy it, so you should never stop protecting it. I pray that every marriage between a man and a woman is strengthened by Christ as the third strand, shaped like the trinity with everyone in their proper position and that both the husband and wife see value in investing in learning how to strengthen their marriage.