Keys to a Successful Marriage

As my wife and I approach our 32nd anniversary, I’ve been thinking about what has enabled us to have a successful marriage. By this I mean not just staying married but enjoying each other’s presence. (I have been with couples who have been married a long time but who don’t enjoy being together.) In light of that, a few weeks ago I came across an article by a non-Christian related to this topic. Here is the link: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/every-successful-relationship-is-successful-for-the-same-exact-reasons?utm_source=pocket-newtab. The author, Mark Manson, sent out “the call” the week before his wedding, asking anyone who has been married 10+ years and is still happy in their relationship: What lessons would you pass down to others if you could? (At the time of his writing, he had been married two weeks.)

Manson received almost 1500 responses, many of them “measured in pages, not paragraphs.” He writes he was stunned that “they were incredibly repetitive,” but in a good way. He consolidated the responses into 13 key things. As I read them, I realized that they are all, to one degree or another, as applicable to a Christian marriage (such as my own) as they are to a non-Christian marriage, such as Manson’s. Without further ado, here they are:

  1. Be together for the right reasons. Manson defines this largely by some wrong reasons that people who had had multiple marriages reported. Examples of those wrong reasons include fixing yourself; being together for image; being young, naive, and hopelessly in love; and feeling pressure from family.
  2. Have realistic expectations about relationships and romance. These are defined largely by unconditional love, not romantic love.
  3. The most important factor in a relationship is not communication, but respect. Manson writes that respect goes hand-in-hand with trust, and that respect is especially important during conflict.
  4. Talk openly about everything, especially the stuff that hurts. This builds trust, which leads to greater intimacy.
  5. A healthy relationship means two healthy individuals. Enough said.
  6. Give each other space. The key word here in Manson’s description is “separate.” Manson and his responders write about the importance of separate checking accounts, credit cards, vacations, and even bathrooms and bedrooms. This is an area where I found myself in disagreement with Manson and company; while giving each other some space is important, too much of it can create too much distance.
  7. You and your partner will grow and change in unexpected ways; embrace it. Some of the examples include changing religions; experiencing the death of a family member; and even changing sexual orientation (?!). While I can agree with the principle, I can’t agree with many of the examples.
  8. Get good at fighting. Examples include not insulting your spouse and taking a breather if necessary.
  9. Get good at forgiving. I would add “and apologizing.”
  10. The little things add up to big things. Respondents said that this is especially important once you have kids. Examples given include holding hands and doing household chores.
  11. Sex matters… a lot. Obviously, different people have different levels of desire, but regardless, it matters a lot.
  12. Be practical, and create relationship rules. The common theme of the advice was to be pragmatic. One of the examples given is that if a wife works 50 hours/week outside the home, and the husband works mainly at home, it makes sense for him to handle more of the parenting duties. Almost all of the examples given regarding rules are related to spending money.
  13. Learn to ride the waves. Enough said.

Underlying all of these key things, as Manson writes, is genuine admiration for your spouse. As I wrote at the outset, all of them are applicable to some degree to every marriage, whether Christian or not. As a Christian, I would add at least one key: grow together spiritually. Ways to do this in my own marriage have included attending church together; praying together; serving others together; and discussing the Bible and Christian books together.

As I read Manson’s article, I found myself thinking about this question: If I had to choose one of the 13 keys as the most important in a marriage, which one would it be? I chose #9: get good at forgiving, with the addition of “and apologizing.” Maybe you have seen the old movie Love Story. There’s an infamous line: Love means never having to say you’re sorry. How stupid is that?! I have had to apologize to my wife many times; the best of those have been when she hasn’t even had to confront me but when the Holy Spirit has brought conviction. Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian message: we have all sinned, and the only solution to the problem is trusting in Jesus Christ, asking Him to forgive our sins.

If you have any additional keys to a successful marriage, as well as thoughts on which key you think is most important, I would be very interested in reading them!

8 thoughts on “Keys to a Successful Marriage

  1. Greetings and all the best to you in the New Year according to the Lord’s purpose for your life and the family.
    What I would like to say is, that I have learned that the “world” has it’s ways in dealing with relationships in marriage and within the families. However anything that comes from the world and it’s ways should ever be applied or implied to the Family of the Lord. For we are NOT of the world, but are separated from the world, and our only pursuit is to be garnered from what the Lord is requiring from His followers, in His ways according to His Word where only real truth, and life exists. He is The Word, the living word, and nothing after the “philosophy” and “traditions” of fallen men are to be consumed into our walk of Faith, which is from the Lord, and too the Lord.
    If we are to be lights in the world, then we need only proclaim their need for Salvation through the Blood of Christ, who is able to forgive them their sins, then and only then will they be able to fulfill their rightful duties as men and women in marriage and out of marriage, living the single life as the Lord ordains.
    So let us just keep to the Lord’s Word and His requirements for us, and then and only then will those who live in darkness shall see the Glory of the Lord within our lives and be drawn to Him as He wills them so.
    The Lord bless you…..

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    1. As I wrote, “They are all, to one degree or another, as applicable to a Christian marriage (such as my own) as they are to a non-Christian marriage, such as Manson’s.” I think the key phrase here is “to one degree or another.” As I went through Manson’s points, I pointed out which ones are at least questionable from a Christian worldview.

      As Christians, we can draw insights from the “secular” world, but we always need to sift.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find I only need to “sift” and test the spirit from sources that states they are teachers and pastors of the One True God.

    I rarely, if ever, utilize anything from a secular view in regards to what is right and true. unless it deals with legal matter’s in regards to government’s and their lawless ways and how the Lord views their actions.

    Also this “Christian worldview” is something that is highly questionable from a Biblical context.
    We find in the word of the Lord’s and the writings of His Apostles which deal with “local expression’s” within the Body of Christ, home meetings, where all we need is to follow their precepts as guided by the Holy Spirit. In the last 24 years or more, I’ve found those that hold to a Christian Worldview are for the most part expressing ideas that are not from a Biblical view, but of the flesh and the Anti-Christ spirit from the Apostate Church.

    We see this happening everywhere from; person’s “thinking” they are called to be street preacher’s sent out on their own, when in fact it is the Local expression of the Body of Christ that sends them out in order to bring them into the true Body of Christ as the Lord gather’s them in. Also we find a world view of establishing a “methodology” of how to be a better Christian, male of female, when “methodology” and “partner accountability” is not of faith granted by the Holy Spirit, but of the flesh, which only leads to failure. And many of those programs cost hundred’s of dollar’s to be able to participate, which is not founded or supported in God’s Word. We have women who are now preaching the word in multitude ministries set up by themselves, without any authority by the LORD or the HOLY SPIRIT, but through the teachings of the Worldview Apostate system. They are also allowed to be preacher’s over the church system and many are being trained to “plant new Churches”.
    Anyway, my point is that I do not except any type of “Worldview” rhetoric, as coming from the Lord but from the fleshly religious minds of true or false Christians. I just wanted to establish why I do not accept it by giving just a few points that this worldview promotes.
    I thank you for the discussion without any malice……it truly is a blessing….

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    1. Over the years, I have read many books about marriage by Christian authors. Eleven out of thirteen things that Manson wrote about are also embraced by them.

      For example, “Get good at fighting” is said in different ways (usually under “conflict resolution”), yet I think it’s safe to say that every Christian author who writes about marriage includes it. One example that Manson’s respondents give is not to insult your spouse. It’s so important, but it still happens in some marriages. It happens in other relationships, too; my wife and I have a friend who wrote some insulting things to us recently when she got angry. Now she wants to reconcile with us, so we are working with her to do that.

      Does the Bible say, “Don’t insult your spouse?” No, but it is an important application of the Biblical principles of love and respect.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I understand what you are saying….and agree in part.
    I still stand upon what I shared…….however it’s not worth contending over. You have your view, and I have mine…..
    Lord bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Keith, Thank you for a truly inspiring and more importantly a helpful Blog for married couples.  Congratulations on your many years of happy marriage.. What a great blessing.. 

    Yes, so what? You took secular information and used it and modeled it to your own personal observation and then hit the key points of God and godly living being the centerpiece. 

    Can you imagine this man cctech777 is going to lecture you on marriage??? He, an admission from himself to me personally that before he was saved,  was a man who lived his life in homosexuality and still struggles with it. Yet still went back into these situations? Who teaches grace but refuses to live it or believe it. Who is trapped in religion.

    Oh dear Lord, I know the reason you met me is for me to show you who Cal T is.. Yes the man behind this pious religious facade. Telling you what you ought and not write.

    Cal’s tactic is to nip away like the little foxes (Song of Solomon 2:15-17). Then he will continue until you either fully comply with his tyranny or you are the enemy of God. I know very well.
    Please email me for a full report on who you’re dealing with in this pathetic man.

    I personally now believe Cal believes he is God’s chosen immaculately holy being that has found his own way to the cross by personal acts of pious self righteous acts while proclaiming outward scripture of God’s grace. He is the consumate Pharisee – a sepulcher that is white on the outside but dead inside. 

    Why do I write Cal has found his own way to be righteous? Unless Cal has deleted his perverse Blog on Communion which I had to delete after reading it carefully where he painstakingly teaches the Communion is a personal self sacrifice and suffering for Christ leaving out completely the cup as the blood which is for the remission of sin in accordance with Matthew 26:28 KJV.

    Thank you for sharing dear Keith.

    Praying for Cal. Lord may his eyes be opened.  Amen! 

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First of all, I really appreciate your encouraging words, brother!

    Regarding Cal (cctechm777), you and I have obviously both had our dealings with him, you much more so than me. I think that fundamentally, he’s lacking in love. When he agrees with you, he’s your biggest fan, but when he doesn’t, then watch out. In this particular exchange with him, he was eventually able to say, “However, it’s not worth contending over.” That is progress.

    I really appreciate your helping me understand Cal better. Like you, I’m praying that the Lord will open his eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

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