Ethics & Religion
June 26, 2019
Want a Successful Marriage?
By Mike McManus
June is the wedding month. Too many young couples focus on the
wedding, which now costs an average of $35,000. However, a wedding is but a day. Marriage is for a lifetime.
For those of us who are married, June is a good time to take stock, a
time to reflect upon our own marriage. Marriage is not for sissies.
Marriage has no expiration date and it doesn't come with a warranty.
There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. The goal is to seek to
build a healthy marriage. Spouses will have differences which can lead
to arguments. Both spouses must find ways to make the marriage work.
It takes more than love to make a marriage work. Most people think of
love as a feeling, but feelings come and go. But love is a decision to
pledge to each other a commitment, a decision to grow together.
The vows are about decisions. If one partner loses in a marriage -
both lose. We must build skills to seek a win-win solution. Conflict, if
resolved amicably and respectfully, builds your marriage muscle.
Conflicts and hard times are inevitable. However, couples can use
those times to grow stronger together. Good times are easy. Hard times
are challenging. Couples need to commit to vows pledged on their wedding
The goal of marriage is not happiness. Rather, the goal is to seek
oneness. By building up your spouse, by making a pledge, a promise to
cherish one's partner, the result is oneness - that produces joy.
The key is learning how to manage the bad times, and survive them
together - which builds marriage muscle and makes couples stronger. When
the hard times come - and they will - learn how to cope and you will
become closer to one another.
You can't change your partner, but you can change yourself.
Feelings come and go, but the marriage vows are permanent.
As Scripture puts it in I Corinthians 13: "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. (One of my
biggest flaws.) 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."
That's 16 definitions of love -all of which are based on decisions,
Happiness is based on circumstances, but love is permanent and is based
on decisions. They do not change with fluctuating situations.
It is easy to be a loving partner in the good times. But what about
the hard times - the loss of a job, a serious illness, a death in the
family? That's when we must love our partner, giving help shoulder the
In flexing marriage muscles, the greatest gift you can give your spouse
is the gift of listening. Many think good communication means talking -
explaining your point of view. But good communication In marriage is
developing the skill of listening, without interruption and without
The goal of marriage is oneness. Many think the goal of marriage is
happiness; but rather it is oneness in which spouses work to understand
The key to a successful marriage is to manage conflict so that both
partners feel respected, valued and heard. No one should feel put down,
dismissed or given the silent treatment. That will never build a high
Interestingly, conflict can actually build intimacy and trust if we
learn how to manage our differences in a mutually respectful way. That
will draw you closer as a couple.
The first step is to consider our spouses needs first. We ought to
set goals for how to make our marriage better.
The first goal might be simple: How can I do a better job serving you?
What needs do you have that I am not fulfilling? In our wedding, I
pledged "to have and to hold you, for better for worse, for richer, for
poorer, in sickness and in health until death do us part."
Second, how is our love not just a feeling? Feelings come and go. I
believe love is a decision. Where am I falling short?
Third, what changes would you most like to see in me?
However, we should be willing to consider new steps that would give
us a fresh sense of joy and fulfillment. June is a wedding month.
But it should also be a marriage month in which you say, "I still
Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and
a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to
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