I was pondering the question, what makes a strong marriage? What advice would I give someone just getting married?
In fact I have been in a marriage that failed, and in one (lasting 27 years so far) that’s very sturdy and wonderful. So I have a frame of reference.
Here’s my advice. If you have something to add, please comment!
1. In any disagreement, put the relationship ahead of your separate interests.
2. At the outset, choose someone to be the head of the family who will have the last word. Being the leader is not as great as it seems because the head must put the interests of the other person ahead of his or her own when conflicts arise.
3. Expect that your spouse will occasionally fail or screw up. When that happens, don’t judge, but come alongside.
4. Don’t complain to others about your spouse. Always air problems directly to your spouse.
5. Don’t expect to change your spouse’s ways. Hope and pray that others will say the right word at the right time. But if you are being hurt, you need to confront, of course.
6. When it comes to dividing chores, always do more than your share as a way of showing love and support. And encourage the other to do the same.
So, who has something to add?
1) Don’t keep a bank account of wrongs. Communicate feelings and make the practice of forgiveness one of your highest priorities.
2) If you are still single, start preparing for marriage now. Watch families and relationships to see what the good and bad is and let it be a factor in choosing your spouse and in living out your marriage day to day.
3) Try to look at things as your spouse perceives them. Our natural pattern is to filter it through our understanding and feelings. Our spouse isn’t necessarily experiencing things this way. It is not always easy to do, but we can at least strive to accept that they aren’t affected the same way by things that we are and to have compassion even if we can’t understand it.