Recently, I was asked "Nick, in your experience, what makes for a successful marriage?" I’ve been a pastoral therapist for over 25 years, and here’s some observations. The happiest couples are those who:
1) PRAY TOGETHER
The Bible emphasizes that we should pray together. Matthew wants us to know that praying together is highly valued and honored by God: your prayers will be answered:
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” (Matt 18:19)
There are numerous articles on the ‘net that examine the idea of a couple praying together. Depending on the source you read, it’s sad to note that less than 5% of couples pray together on a regular basis. Even the liberal Huffington Post reports: "Couples Who Pray Together Really Do Stay Together, Study Finds”:
Richard Burr, in his book, “Developing Your Secret Closet of Prayer”, makes this compelling statement: “In my many years of ministry…I have never heard of a marriage that ended in divorce if the husband and wife prayed together regularly."
2) SINCERELY SEEK TO MEET YOUR PARTNERS NEEDS, AND YOUR NEEDS WILL BE MET. LEARN THEIR LOVE LANGUAGE(S) - Gary Chapman
In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us to submit to one another. If you sincerely meet your partners needs, they will meet yours. Obviously, this is many times easier said than done, but it’s a convenient rule of thumb.
3) CONVERSATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATION.
If you can’t talk about the surface stuff, you’ll rarely, if ever, get to the deep stuff. There are ALWAYS things to learn about your spouse. There's no substitute for a sincere interest in your spouse. And remember, when you and your spouse converse, there is no one else on the entire planet! There is no such thing as a simple life. Humans are enormously complex creatures, and your spouse should be endlessly fascinating to you. Get to know them! What was their day like? What’s their job like? Who are their friends? What do they like to do?
My parents - who were married over 60 years - used to “huddle” every day. They would go into the bedroom, shut the door (me and my brother were to stay away), and they would talk about their day. And they were constantly conversing about so many things! With that kind of communication, talking about the deep stuff came easily. That’s the way Kathy and I have been for over 36 years and going strong.
4) HONOR & DEFEND YOUR SPOUSE; NEVER DENIGRATE OR RUNDOWN YOUR SPOUSE IN PUBLIC
You are a team! Always present a united front to the rest of the world. There will be times when the two of you will disagree, but try to keep it private. Public disagreements should be kept to an absolute minimum.
5) KEEP IT FUN
Make your spouse laugh. Kathy has this funny habit of blowing the car horn as I approach the car, and she "gets" me every time - even though I know it's coming!!! I bust out laughing every single time. Recently, we were driving out on a country road when we spotted one of those "fish" mailboxes. I thought it was hilarious, and I said excitedly "That's really cool! I wanna get one!" I will never be faster than Kathy...she looked at me and said "Yeah - it'll look really good in front of your new bachelor pad". She was only kidding - I think....
Rev. Dr. N. Patrick Marica contributes incisive Christian commentary on this blog on a regular basis. He is the Vice-Chancellor of Amherst Theological Seminary, and he has a D. Min. from Amherst Theological Seminary. He has his MA from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of the book: "The Walk Applied". He has also written "The Fasting and Prayer Handbook". He has been married to Kathy since 1985. They have 2 adult daughters and an adult son.
Contact Nick at email@example.com
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