No marriage is successful because you and your spouse have chemistry, or are each other’s soul mates, or because you have good luck. Your marriage will be successful when you put in the effort. A marriage works when you work at it.
In other words, you have to make good habits and disciplines central to your relationship. These things you do on a regular basis are going to predict the future of your marriage. I believe emotionally healthy couples exhibit four crucial habits:
The first is praying together and trusting God. It was several years into our marriage when Karen and I first prayed together. Before this happened, our relationship was filled with conflict and anxiety. But today we refuse to let anxiety into our home. Instead of worrying, we hold hands and pray.
We’ll sit on the back porch at night and talk, and if there’s anything going on in our relationship or our family, we’ll pray about it. We make time for it, and this habit has changed our marriage. You can’t help but change when you’re in God’s presence.
Second, resolve negative feelings daily. Negative feelings like anger aren’t sinful in themselves. The Bible says Jesus got angry, but when you hold onto these feelings and let them simmer inside you, they can become toxic. Today’s anger isn’t a problem. But yesterday’s anger is definitely a problem.
In a good marriage, you have to be able to process negative feelings. Talk about your anger. Give your spouse the right to complain and share what has upset them or hurt their feelings. In years of marriage counseling, I’ve found that the worst marriages are the ones where the couple doesn’t talk.
Third, have fun together and become best friends. Enjoying each other’s company is how you fell in love in the first place. You talked and talked. You laughed. You spent time enjoying each other. When couples stop doing these things, that’s when they fall out of love.
One of the best ways for couples to have fun together is to enter each other’s worlds. Does your husband like to golf or hunt? Then offer to join him, whether you’re interested in the activity or not. Does your wife like exercise or travel? Then make time to do those things with her. And definitely schedule a regular date night.
Finally, build close relationships with believers, individually and as a couple. Your friends are your future. If you want to know what your marriage will look like in a few years, take a look at your friends’ marriages. I’ve found that both healthy relationships and bad marriages run in packs.
Love everyone, but make sure your closest relationships are with strong believers who will challenge you to be a better Christian, and with couples who will inspire you to start healthy habits in your marriage.
Research says it takes around 60 days for a new habit to rewire your brain and become an almost involuntary behavior. Which of these habits do you and your spouse need to add to your relationship?