Jan 092020 3 Responses

9 Traits of a Healthy Marriage (Part 2)

In the previous post, 9 Traits of a Healthy Marriage (Part 1), we said that the scorecard most couples use to determine the health of their marriage is not the best metric.

Consider these nine questions to determine the state of your relationship.

What about love? Everyone would agree that a successful marriage requires people who love each other. Not only should they feel an emotional draw toward one another, but they also should consistently act in a loving way toward each other. And their connection with one another should empower them to love others outside of the relationship better. Love is both a requirement for marriage and a byproduct of a healthy marriage. (See: A Litmus Test for His Love)

What about joy? Not temporary happiness, but a lasting sense of goodness, a gladness in our soul, and hopeful contentment that things are going to turn out for our good. A healthy marriage adds to our sense of well-being. At any given moment it could be the cause of our frustration, but in the over-arching story of our lives, marriage should be considered a positive characteristic of our lives. If your spouse isn’t a positive aspect of your life, something is wrong. In a good marriage, we can hardly imagine life without our spouse.

What about peace? When a marriage is healthy, there isn’t just a ceasefire, there is an actual absence of necessity for objects of war. We don’t just put our guns away, we actually give them away. Every marriage experiences conflict, but an important byproduct of a healthy marriage is an overall sense of tranquility with each other. Even when we disagree, we do not feel as though the other person is out to get us. Instead, we know we are for each other which lessens the tension even when frustration is felt.

What about patience? In a culture of immediacy, a good marriage gives us a perspective for the long-haul. Having received love, we aren’t moved by every temptation or pressed by the fear of missing out. A healthy marriage is not lazy, but it trusts enough to slowly walk the right path, to allow God to work in the lives of others, not to fear about missing out. Patience believes in the enduring power of love. The impatient are driven by fear. The weight of the world is on their shoulders to make everything turn out just right. Patience gives us the time needed to experience the other traits.

What about kindness? Rather than “an eye for an eye,” marriage compels us to respond to one another kindly. This isn’t a mere overlooking of offenses and restraint of response, it’s an intentional act of love toward the very person who has hurt us. Kindness most often expresses itself in small ways. It’s the loving tone of voice, the compassionate ear of understanding, the cleaning of the dishes in the middle of the fight, the intentional choice not to use a specific coffee mug because that is the one she likes. It’s these things not simply when a spouse feels loving and things are good, but a consistent choice of these actions no matter the current condition of feelings.

What about goodness? A healthy marriage is good. It’s not perfect, but both parties continually choose the good way. It means the story that happens behind the scenes is even better than the outward perception. Spouses don’t do things to show off their love to outsiders, but instead revel in consistently doing the right things behind the scenes. Goodness isn’t just a quality of response, but also a state of intention. When couples exhibit goodness, they intentionally seek out ways to express their love to one another and others.

What about faithfulness? A marriage begins with vows. In a healthy marriage, husbands and wives seek to live out those vows in every aspect of their lives, both big and small. They are faithful to themselves, their beliefs, their ideals, and to one another. Faithfulness is often broken in one dramatic act, but it is built and proven through a thousand small consistencies. When failure occurs, faithfulness is proven in confession, amends, and grace. Few things destroy a marriage like an unfaithfulness. We often consider it solely in sexual terms and while sexual fidelity matters, being true to one another in every aspect of marriage matters greatly.

What about gentleness? Love softens our tone and our touch, but it does not weaken our power. A person without strength can appear gentle, but that gentleness is actually a weakness. To be gentle, one has to have the strength and then willfully choose to throttle that strength down so that they express themselves in a soft manner. A good marriage is gentle. They fight fair. They seek understanding. Their love compels them to create a climate of safety so that they may reveal their hearts, desires, fears, and anxieties. In an unhealthy marriage, harshness develops. It’s a way to protect one’s heart and keep others at a safe distance. Gentleness welcomes others in.

What about self-control? Love has a bridling effect. Left to ourselves, we can follow any whim or passion, but love restrains us. Without love, we are focused on the moment. Whatever seems best this second dictates our actions. However, love drives us toward a bigger picture. Just because something is pleasing at the moment doesn’t mean it will be in our best interest for the long-haul. A healthy marriage is always looking down the road when it comes to how to make decisions. We are able to restrain our words, actions, and attitudes because of our love for each other.

These nine traits should be the expected byproducts of marriage truly based on self-sacrificing love. Not only should they define how a couple interacts with each other, but they also should be characteristic of how the couple interacts with those outside the relationships. Love between a husband and wife should flow over into acting more loving toward others. Patience learned inside a marriage should grow patience with those outside the marriage. Self-control experienced at home should better prepare us to learn self-control at work.

No one is perfect, but couples can experience these qualities with greater regularity. These nine characteristics can greatly define who we are as husbands and wives.

What If They Aren’t?

If these elements are not present in your relationship, something needs to change.

First, ask yourself–am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing as a spouse? If the answer is no (or if you don’t know what the main three roles of a spouse are), read Friends, Partners & Lovers.

Second, ask yourself–are we approaching marriage in the right way? There is a proper mindset of how a couple should approach marriage. If you aren’t sure about the how, read Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples Who Laugh, Love & Last.


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