Imagine a poll with the question “Would you want a happy marriage?” No matter the age, gender, background or financial status the vast majority would answer a resounding “Yes!”
Consider this modern age, a time of pursuing endless pleasures. A whole generation practices the motto “Work hard, play harder.” Many have decided to neglect the attention the marriage institution requires. Sadly, married couples are becoming outnumbered by common-law partners and single-mother households. This shows that even though happy, successful marriages are desirable, they remain elusive.
Why? Is a happy marriage even possible?
Of course it is possible! The following are helpful and practical points for those who desire to develop a happy marriage.
For anything to succeed, a correct foundation and structure are necessary. For example, a house built without a foundation will eventually collapse. A bridge without sufficient support will ultimately fail. The same is true for marriage—a proper foundation and structure must exist, else it will crumble and fail.
Most newlyweds begin marriage with the concept of each contributing 50%. But would a small business be successful if each partner gave only a 50% effort? Whether it is a business or marriage, a 50/50 venture will fail.
The first step in a successful marriage is for both husband and wife to put all their effort into the relationship—each giving 100%!
Marriage is between the husband and wife, and no one else. Yet some, in effect, bring other family members into the marriage. This can be done in a variety of ways. Some choose to live at home with in-laws to save money. Others bring overbearing parents into marital matters. In either case, this can cause problems for newlyweds. Both husband and wife must be completely focused on each other—on the new family they are building together.
Husbands and wives must fully cooperate in all aspects of marriage. In pairs figure skating, each partner must depend on the other to successfully perform their routine. Intricately planned moves demand clearly defined roles. One must lead and one must follow. If one skater changes roles midstream, the routine will end in disaster. Likewise, marriage has visibly defined roles. If these are not followed, the marriage will experience hardship—and most likely end in failure.
Every successful team has a coach, every corporation a CEO, and every country a head of state. So must every marriage have a leader, and this is the husband’s responsibility. This does not mean the husband is better than the wife, or that the wife is inferior. This role does not entitle him to rule his family like a dictator. On the other hand, his leadership role is not a minor formality. God created the institution of marriage in a specific way, with strengths and skills that fit this structure endowed to both sexes.
But how does a husband properly lead? He gives himself to his wife, loves her and ensures that all her needs are provided. This gives his wife a comfort and confidence that strengthens the entire relationship. Real leaders make every effort to allow those under them to flourish. Through many hours of encouragement, support and teaching, a real husband will take the time to help his wife succeed.
Wives also have a vital role. They build and support the family in a variety of important ways. Yet most do not understand the scope of the wife’s role.
Consider the Bible’s definition of a wife, found in Proverbs 31. It describes a woman who is the ultimate help-mate, one who supports her husband and children. She demonstrates sound judgment; she cares for the family; she willingly works hard; she provides a balanced menu for her household; she is frugal and can manage finances, under the husband’s guidance; she strives for quality; she gains a good reputation because of her example; she works to uplift the environment of her home; every word she speaks is kind and thoughtful; her family respects her and holds her in high regard.
Much more could be said about the specific roles of men and women. Both must work hard to learn and practice their roles to have a successful and happy marriage.
Communication is one of the most important keys to success. Before marriage, couples often find themselves talking a lot—but this soon diminishes after the wedding day. Communication must continue throughout the marriage. The couple must continue to learn from one another, taking time to share their thoughts and feelings.
Most marriages fail because of a lack of or wrong communication. Seemingly the only type of dialog in many marriages is arguing and fighting. This is not communication! Nothing productive ever comes from this, and it should be avoided at all costs. If the discussion escalates, both must make a point to apologize immediately.
Husbands and wives should speak pleasantly to each other. Husbands should be extra careful of their tone, as wives can be sensitive in this manner. Depending on the tone, a question can be taken very differently, which could lead to unnecessary misunderstandings.
For the marriage to move forward in unity, productivity and harmony, both must know what the other is thinking. Issues should never remain bottled up. Each should take the time to listen, attempting to discern each other’s needs and concerns. Sincere compliments should also be a part of regular communication.
A good husband and confident leader will not be afraid to ask his closest friend and confidant—his wife—what he can do to improve. She may see things he does not. Her advice should be sought when making decisions as well.
Husbands and wives should avoid nagging or criticizing. They know each other’s “boiling points” better than anyone else. Use kind words—be supportive and interested—motivate each other to succeed in all aspects of life.
Wives and husbands should be a team!
Similar to conversation, time spent together also drops rapidly after the honeymoon. Life becomes busy: Bills need to be paid; the home must be maintained; children require attention. But all of life’s demands should not be at the expense of spending quality time together.
Schedule outings as if you were dating again. Do not allow months to pass without spending at least several hours together on a date.
Daily set aside time to discuss the day’s events. Sitting together and watching television is not spending quality time developing your marriage. If you have children, once they are put to bed, take a moment to sit together and talk. Make it part of your routine.
Another reason marriages fail is a lack of intimacy. Due to a host of reasons, people will often disregard sexual relations. This is another area in which you must make time for each other. Doing so will strengthen the bond of marriage. (To learn more, read Sex – Its Unknown Dimension.)
Do not let a day pass in which you have not given significant time to your spouse—continually build the relationship with your best friend.
By starting with these points, you can begin to ensure a happy marriage. To learn much more about how to have a truly successful and satisfying relationship, read You Can Build a Happy Marriage.