I am enjoying the privilege of leading a bible study with 6 precious young wives on the subject of marriage. I am the leader of the study, yet I am a constant learner along with each one of them. After almost 30 years of marriage I recognize that you never arrive at a PERFECT relationship. Marriage is a process of growing and stretching through the many different seasons and changes in our lives. Marriage is a committment to being a good friend~no matter what.
“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”
In discussions about marriage some key issues continually come up: communication, expectations, and forgiveness. These areas can be where hurt and disconnect can be found. So, in light of this I wanted to offer a few thoughts that might serve to encourage you as you commit to building a rich, thriving marriage.
* Active Listening: taking the time to truly listen to your loved one, repeating back to them to see if you truly understood what they are trying to say, and them expressing how you imagine they might feel can bring clarity and empathy even if you don’t fully agree. Everyone needs to have the freedom to express themselves; to be heard. Practicing this kind of intentional listening will help build better communication and cause you to feel a greater connection to one another.
* Balancing Expectations: Have you ever thought through all the elements you may expect in your marriage?
- To be able to talk everything through & find resolution
- That we & our partner should never argue, fight or withdraw, always take care of each other & agree on everything
- A wonderful sexual relationship, full of sexual passion
- Each other to take their own responsibility for their own feelings, able to share love, rather than expect our partner to fill us up with their love
- To have a lot of fun & easily laugh together
- To have similar interests
- Our partner to financially contribute
- A certain level of contribution towards the household & childcare
- Respect, admiration & deep trust
- A relationship full of affection, holding, cuddling & kissing
- To find each other infinitely interesting, look forward to being together & sharing ideas
- The same religious beliefs
- Shared, common spiritual values
These elements are all good; however these areas can grow over time as the marriage matures, listening increases, and each individual grows deeper in their relationship with the Lord. Keep them as good goals but don’t expect perfection all the time.
“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
* Forgiveness: We all need forgiveness. We all have a bad day, make mistakes, and respond improperly. In my early years of marriage I would hold onto those things that hurt or frustrated me. When I would do this I could easily find myself irritated by the smallest things simply because I had a stockpile of things I’d not yet forgiven. The older I get the more I recognize the huge value in keeping a short record of unforgivenes. Fact is, I need to be forgiven often too.
“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this next week may you embark on the richest year of marriage ever!