The 11 Most Important Things in a Marriage?
I’m glad you asked…
1) Foundational Faith/Shared Values.
For those of us who are people of faith our faith is very important to us. It’s foundational to our lives. To join your life with someone else who doesn’t share the same values and vision for what this life is all about makes the relationship more difficult. Are there people with different faith and value systems who have made marriage work? Yes. But they are few and far between. Our faith affects everything about our lives: how we act, how we spend out time, how we do relationships, how we parent. To navigate through all of those things with someone who is building off of a different foundation than you are and pointed in a different direction than you are is a struggle we wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Your spouse needs you to accept them just as they are. Not to marry them thinking that they’ll change as time goes on. Not to use your time getting to do or be something that they’re not. Be honest about who your spouse is, who they were when you met them and married them and be willing to accept who they are now and who are they are going to continue to be. When both people in a relationship do this the relationship flows so much better!
We’ve been guilty of saying all too often “Life is not all about ME.” People who understand and live out this concept have a far easier time getting along with others and being in relationship with others. They also more naturally are willing and able to meet the needs of others. Selflessness doesn’t mean allowing yourself to get pushed around or become a doormat. It simply means living out Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” It means caring enough about others to see that they’re needs are met in the relationship. Again, when both parties are selfless good things happen in the marriage
This encompasses everything. Physical, emotional, spiritual. Your marriage needs touch. Cuddles. Hugs. Sex. Your marriage needs connection. Sharing. Talking. Your marriage needs prayer. Spiritual growth.
If you can’t laugh together you won’t make it. Have inside jokes. Milk them for all their worth. Joke around with each other. Do fun things together. Reminisce over happy memories together. Play games together. Laugh.
Let’s just take that a step further and say: Communicate effectively. Communicate in a healthy way. We know too many people who are very vocal and feel like they communicate well but in fact they are constantly using the wrong tone and the wrong timing. They are being snarky and nagging and passive aggressive. Communicate well. Express your ideas, opinions and concerns in an adult manner. Be respectful of your spouse and their ideas when you are sharing so that they feel comfortable communicating things with you.
Your spouse will fail you. Be prepared to be a forgiver of those failings. Ruth Graham Bell has been attributed with the saying that says, “A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.” It’s true. Enter marriage with the knowledge that your spouse is at some point, throughout the relationship, going to need your forgiveness and that you will also need theirs.
We’ve known too many people who’ve gotten married too quickly for the wrong reasons. Too many people who treat the entire process like it’s a crap shoot. Too many people who walk into it with what we call a “get out of jail free” card hiding in their back pocket. There shouldn’t be a plan B. Marriage is a lifetime covenant with another person to walk through life and all its brings. It shouldn’t be entered into lightly and it shouldn’t be taken lightly when problems arise and your commitment is challenged.
No, you don’t have to eliminate all your besties from your life when you get married. But great marriages happen when two people who live together and are doing life together consider each other great friends. We’ve found that we appreciate it when we can look at each other and say to each other “I like you” almost more than when we say “I love you.” We recently had a friend express the same thing. She said her husband looked at her and just said to her, “I really like you.” Isn’t that great? You want to spend life with someone who’s company you enjoy, who you get along with, who you love hanging out with.
Your spouse needs your support. They need you to have their back. This means a number of different things. It means you shouldn’t talk bad about them in front of other people. It means you should be living in expectation for all the positives your spouse has to offer rather than being a negative Nancy and always expecting all of the negatives. It means helping them go for and achieve their dreams…even if they aren’t your dreams. It means spending time with them doing things that they enjoy….Even if you don’t. It means lending a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
When you tie the knot the dating and the courting and chasing should not end. If it does your relationship will possibly go dry at some point. You should be making time to go out alone together. You should be putting double dates together with other couples you enjoy spending time with. You should be getting all gussied up and going to a fancy restaurant or a concert every now and then. You should be planning over-nighters a couple times a year. Marriage doesn’t mean the end of dating. It means the beginning of getting to date this person you committed to. And the neat thing about continuing to date is that it allows for more of numbers 1-10.
What would be on your list? What’s your top 11 be?
Please check out these sites this week if you get the chance. They are doing great things for relationships!