Is marriage for a lifetime even possible? This is a question asked by talk shows, bloggers and Christians. The answer is, YES, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Just like you’ve heard it said, relationships take work and marriage is no exception.
Here are 5 tips to help make marriage a lifetime achievement:
1. Make marriage a covenant, not just a contract.
Enter marriage with the idea that this is an unbreakable promise–that you will fight to stay together and work through your problems. Be committed to one another for the long haul. If you have divorce as an option in the back of your mind, this impacts how willing you are to work through difficulty.
2. Take time to explore family patterns and history before and after you marry.
For example, it does matter if his father is an alcoholic. This means he grew up with specific interactional patterns that will need to be addressed because they will impact your relationship. It does matter if you have significant religious differences. It does matter if she does not get along with her mother. It does matter how he deals with conflict based on his original family, etc. Identifying family patterns and working on blending them makes a big difference.
3. Like your partner as a friend.
When you strip away all the emotion and attraction feelings, do you like this person and want to spend time with him or her doing life? People can be very attracted to someone who would not make a good companion. Marital friendship is the building block of a strong marriage. And friendship needs to be worked at and maintained. Do you know your partner’s likes, dislikes, goals, dreams, preferences, etc.?
Do you spend time together doing things friends like to do? Add to this regular conversation about how much you admire and are fond of this person. All of this builds the friendship and keeps marriage strong.
4. Make prayer your default.
Prayer is underrated as a powerful weapon against divorce. No matter what the issue is, take it to prayer and invite God to lead and direct both of you. This is often an underutilized strategy and yet a powerful one.
5. Do novel things to keep love alive.
Too many couples get in a rut and become bored with their relationship. Then, they start to look outside the marriage for excitement. Novelty brings back feelings of love and keeps things fresh. Don’t be apathetic. Think, plan and do novel things to stimulate that loving feeling in the brain.
For more help to sustain marriage for a lifetime, check out Dr. Linda Mintle’s book, I Married You Not Your Family: And Nine Other Relationship Myths That Will Ruin Your Marriage