Ask a few people what makes a good marriage and you’re sure to get a number of different responses. It goes without saying that, as a believer, God as the center and foundation of a marriage is an absolute necessity. There are practical characteristics, however, that need to take a front seat in our relationships to qualify them as “good.” We all have different needs and find our fulfillment in ways that are very personal to us. Our backgrounds, history, personalities, and other individual experiences kind of determine for us the type of person we are drawn to as a mate and also what we seek to get out of our marriages. There are some basic foundational qualities of a good relationship, though, that are pretty common across the board. Here are some I’ve thought about:
Mutual respect. It’s like the good soil that Jesus talks about in one of His parables. The story talks about stony ground and thorny ground, neither of which helps ANYTHING to grow, except maybe weeds. Good soil is productive. It provides the environment that’s necessary for good things to grow. I view respect in that same way. Both people in a marriage need to feel like the other spouse values them, their opinions, treats them with consideration and simply honors them as a person. A person that’s made to feel less than what they are has less of a chance of fully blossoming into all that he or she could be within the framework of the marriage. Being respected for who you are as a person allows you the freedom to just BE and to flourish into whatever and whomever your potential is as a spouse.
Love in ALL its forms. The Bible reflects love in different forms. We don’t love our friends and family in quite the same way that we love our spouses. There is also a kind of love that we have for people in general, “brotherly” love. It’s important when we’re dealing with the challenges that marriage can bring to remember that the person that we’re married to should be treated as a friend, even when he or she hurts or disappoints us. Passionate love is the love that we all want to experience. The butterflies in the stomach, thinking about the person day and night and, in the confines of marriage, the mind-blowing sex that leaves us wanting more (and more and more! LOL). Although sex can’t be the basis for a lasting relationship, it can be a big issue if not given its proper place in a marriage. I heard somebody say once that sex, when there are no problems, carries about 20% importance in a marriage. When there ARE problems, though, it can be that other 80% and impact everything other aspect of the relationship! Every marriage is different, as is each person’s level of sex drive and “sense of adventure,” but it’s important for both people to be compatible in that area. Lack of sexual fulfillment can lead to all kinds of issues in a marriage. One person shouldn’t dictate the frequency of intimacy. Even the Bible cautions us to not prevent intimacy unless it’s for an agreed upon period of time for the purposes of prayer and fasting. The third spoke in the love wheel is unconditional love. AGAPE. That God-love that needs to take over when one person feels like they’ve come to the end of their ability to love and forgive. We as people make mistakes all the time. In order for a marriage to survive and continue to move forward, unconditional love MUST be in play at ALL times. We have no idea when we recite our vows what “for better or for worse” can mean. Only time will tell how bad the “worse” can get! Even with the smaller issues, we have to be able to forgive and move past our spouse’s shortcomings, faults, and the things they do that might be hurtful to us. Keep in mind how much and how often you’ve sought God’s forgiveness and it SHOULD help you out. Every day for us is a new mercy. How about you grant the same to the one you love…
Fidelity and trust. This should go without saying, right? I won’t say much but “forsaking all others” means exactly what it states. A marriage is nothing without exclusivity, trust, and that place in our hearts and lives for that ONE person that we call husband or wife. I read a quote recently that said that doing the right thing is more than just not doing the wrong thing.” Emotional affairs, pornography, flirting and other inappropriate actions all contribute to a break in intimacy and trust and are a threat to any marriage. Infidelity starts long before the bedroom and a good marriage definitely does NOT include any of the above! The Bible is FULL of instructions and warning against adultery and its consequences but Matthew 5:28 says that a man even looks at a woman the wrong way has cheated on his wife in his heart. Ladies AND Gentlemen, control your wandering eyes and watch your hearts and your ears. Nobody should dwell in ANY of those places except the person that you’re married to!
Common Goals. A common vision and common goals keep a couple moving in the same direction. We each have our own minds and our own ways of doing things. That is a fact. But if your ultimate goals aren’t the same, that’s a real issue! If a wife’s heart’s desire is to stay at home and raise her family but her husband believes in the two of them both working together to accomplish his dream of a nice house, cars, and vacations, where is the commonness? One of my favorite things to watch is “Fixer Upper” on the HGTV. I watch Chip and Joanna Gaines LITERALLY all day long as they work together so perfectly to fulfill their clients’ dreams of creating beautiful homes for them. Chip brings his lighthearted and fun yet extremely knowledgeable contractor skills while Joanna offers her more laid back personality and beautifully sophisticated design style. They have been married at this point for only twelve years but they have accomplished so much as a couple working together as they identify their goals and then pursue them TOGETHER with excellence. Purpose, in the Kingdom, will propel us like nothing else will! A couple led by God toward the same goals, vision, and purpose for their lives and family is bound together by a shared life and future.
These qualities are among the many others that might fit the bill when we think of what makes a good marriage. They are things that we should explore BEFORE marriage, both individually and as a couple. I may have said it before and I’ll SURELY say it again, probably many more times, but marriage starts BEFORE you get to the altar!!! Marriage is a journey and you will hopefully uncover many hidden treasures about your spouse but there are things that should be on the table of discussion before the vows are said. That said, it’s important to BE YOURSELF when you are dating. Don’t pretend to be what you think a person wants to see in you in order to catch them. You’ll set yourself up to have to maintain some image of yourself that’s not real and you create unreal and UNrealistic expectations for your spouse of who he or she thinks you are. Fix what’s broken, of course, so you enter into marriage whole but don’t pretend to be something you’re not. It’s important that you know yourself enough to know what really matters to you as a person which will help you to choose wisely when it comes to a spouse. I posted a quote on Facebook recently that said “You don’t need someone to complete you. You only need someone to accept you completely.” Be yourself, attract someone who is attracted to the REAL you, and you have the makings of a good marriage. The rest is just details! 🙂