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3 Keys to a Successful Marriage

May 5, 2010 - Dennis Gingerich

My wife Linda and I recently celebrated 35 years of marriage with a trip to Paris.  While enjoying all of the history, the art and culture of Paris, we talked about how incredibly blessed we are in our own personal heritage.  All our great grandparents, grandparents and parents on both sides, were each married over 50 years. We both have four siblings and all of those siblings have bee married at least 20 years with no divorces on either side of our families.  We are handing down a rich heritage to our three children and their spouses and our two granddaughters. I know that is highly unusual. So, are we just lucky? 

I believe it is more than luck.  We have had certain things modeled for us that have helped us.  We are trying to model those same things for others.  While there are many more possibilities, allow me to share just three keys that might be helpful in developing a successful marriage.   A successful marriage is…

 …BUILT ON THE RIGHT FOUNDATION. As a pastor and police chaplain, I’ve officiated at hundreds of weddings.  I usually read this scripture from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 

To even come close to living out this kind of love, you have to build on the right foundation.  As I look back at our family history and all of our models for marriage, I quickly realize they all were people of deep faith and commitment to God.  Their lives were built around the foundation of their faith.  When you have a vital and dynamic relationship with the Creator of the Universe, and you talk to Him directly with no appointment needed to enter His presence, and you don’t have to go through any subordinates or bribe His secretaries, and you actually have a conversation with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, I believe you have an advantage over someone who isn’t even on speaking terms with God.  It doesn’t solve all your problems, but a personal relationship with God gives meaning and purpose to every dimension of living.

God is the only one who can show us the kind of love described in the scripture and the only one who can fill us with this kind of love and empower us to live this way.  Building on the foundation of God’s guidelines for sex only inside the covenant of marriage rather than building on the flimsy sham of convenience and lust makes a huge difference when it comes to trust in the relationship.  The foundation of a marriage is critical as it is in any building structure.  A poor foundation leads to a comprise in the integrity of everything else built on that foundation.  And secondly, a successful marriage is…

GRACED WITH SOLID COMMITMENT.  Way too many couples in our current culture enter into a marriage relationship with divorce as one of their options if it doesn’t work out.  Feeling “in love” is way is way too wishy-washy to hold a relationship together for very long. Feelings come and go. The complexity of human emotions and human personality will put tons of stresses and pressures on marriage and the feelings of love.  If you have divorce as a part of your vocabulary and you use that word when you have heated conflict, you are sowing the seeds of destruction into your marriage.

And I use the term “graced” with solid commitment very intentionally because God’s incredible flow of grace into our relationships is critical.  Without a continual openness to the flow of God’s grace into your relationship, you will often be tempted to quit, give up and walk out.  Long term healthy relationships aren’t that way because there is some kind of perfect match made it heaven with no conflict.  Instead, there is perseverance, hard work, diligent focus, and intentionality toward utilizing conflict for growth in the relationship.  God’s description and example of love is the kind that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.”  And then finally, a successful marriage…

WILL BE FILLED WITH GOOD COMMUNICATION. Communication is such a basic ingredient of a successful relationship and so much has been written and said about it.  There is a plenty of help available to increase your good communication skills and decrease your bad communication skills.

For the most part, communication skills are learned behaviors. That means they can be changed, unlearned and relearned. (Check out the links next to this blog for some helpful resources).

Almost everything in a marriage rises or falls on communication - including money issues, sexual issues, parenting issues, and resolving conflict.  All are helped or hindered by your communication skills.  If you develop positive communication patterns, you can meet most all challenges.  And I know of no good excuse for continuing poor and unhealthy communication patterns that are destructive when they can be changed, unlearned or relearned.  There are great books, websites and counseling services available to assist you with developing better communication.  But it takes that authentic God-like love described in the 1 Corinthians 13 description of above - love that is patient, kind, humble, forgiving, honest, positive, trusting, protective, hopeful and persevering. That kind of love only comes out of our lives when we have opened ourselves to receive that kind of love from God Himself who is the very definition of Love.


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