Feb 092016 3 Responses

Three Essentials of a Healthy Marriage

There are two types of marriage which I cannot help. If a spouse is addicted or abusive, I’m of no use. That’s not to say the marriage can’t be helped, maybe it can. But I can’t be the one to provide any assistance. If the addicted or abusive spouse is willing to get help and seeks the treatment of a trained professional, there MIGHT be hope. Without intervention, the marriage is destined to fail.

Beyond marriages which have abuse or addiction, there are three other qualities which a couple must posses in order to have a healthy marriage. If they lack these qualities, we can learn about them and seek them. But until these aspects are an integral part of the relationship, the marriage cannot move forward.

3 Essentials of a Healthy Marriage:

1. Reality over perception. Many people have a perception of marriage which is not accurate. They believe marriage is far easier than it actually is. They foolishly think that if they marry the right person, they will be guaranteed a successful marriage without any effort. It doesn’t work that way. But when we believe this false perception, one fight or one struggle can cause us to believe we have done something wrong.

Reality says that a healthy marriage is not guaranteed no matter who we marry. It requires work. We have to learn and grow. We have to endure failure and use that failure as motivation for success. We have to realize we are imperfect as individuals so our marriage will definitely be imperfect. Our imperfection makes marriage imperfect, messy, and often frustrating. However, in the midst of the imperfection, we grow and love.

The first step to embracing reality over perception is understanding the myth of the soul mate. We don’t marry our soul mates; we marry imperfect people whom we love. (See: Happy Valentine’s Day, You’re Not My Soul Mate)

2. Humility over pride. A healthy marriage begins by realizing we don’t know what we are doing. Rather than arrogantly assuming we have what it takes to succeed, we must humbly recognize our own ignorance. At no point do we think we have it all figured out. Instead, a long marriage makes us even more convinced of our need to learn and grow.

Pride kills marriages. It destroys intimacy. It cripples us from looking beyond ourselves and causes us to use our spouses for our own gratification. Nothing is more damaging to marriage than pride. (See: Pride–the Only Enemy of Marriage)

Humility creates a climate in which a marriage can thrive. It welcomes grace and empowers forgiveness. It motivates us to seek help, learn from others, and understand our faults. It drives us to learn new skills in order to become spouses. When we choose humility over pride, we give ourselves an opportunity to succeed.

3. Intention over passivity. A good marriage requires effort. Because we don’t marry a soul mate, there is plenty of work to be done with the person we do marry. This requires action. We must be introspective regarding our own needs, take initiative in our marriage, and continually be active in improving our relationship. (See: The Number One Cause of Divorce)

Passivity prevents success. It flows from a sense of entitlement. Many believe marriage should be done for them. If any work needs to be done, their spouse should do all of it. They want the benefits of marriage without any of the responsibilities. Passive people have bad relationships.

A healthy marriage demands intention. We must look at our needs, form a plan, and get better. Intention drives us to take a class, attend a marriage retreat, have a specific discussion, or go to counseling. Intentional relationships rarely trip over the same issues time and time again. They learn, grow, and find ways to navigate problems. Intention drives success.

The bad news is that a good marriage normally cannot be experienced when one or more of these essentials are missing. The good news is that each one of these essentials can be discovered no matter how long someone has been married.

Passivity is a prideful response to a false perception of marriage. Intention is a humble approach to the reality of marriage.

3 Responses to Three Essentials of a Healthy Marriage
  1. Kathryn Reply

    Nailed it again.

  2. […] 2. Make an intentional choice to love your spouse today. Do this not just in theory, but in practice... kevinathompson.com/7-intentional-steps-for-a-better-marriage-today
  3. […] From this perspective, our spouse’s role is to please us. We expect them to make us happy, ser... kevinathompson.com/goldilocks-principle-marriage

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