How Do We Make Marriage Work?


After recently celebrating 32 years together, I was thinking about what keeps our marriage going. These are the first things that came to mind:

Forgiveness is essential! Forgiveness is the cornerstone of our marriage. We’re both in need of forgiveness. Each of us remembering how much we need forgiveness helps us to forgive the other. We’re frail human beings who make selfish decisions and mistakes every day.

Grace. Grace is each of us letting the other be human. It is not our job to judge each other or hand out punishment. We both need grace! God gives us so many good things even though we don’t deserve them. How can we withhold good from each other?

Love. True love (as demonstrated by God) is thinking of the other person before self. True love is choosing to act in love toward another. Every day we choose to give love and build each other up or we choose to withhold it and tear each other down.

Feelings and affection. As we choose to show love in words and actions, our feelings grow stronger. The more we show affection, the more our desire for affection grows. Love doesn’t happen by accident, it is intentional.

Letting go of expectations and the fantasy marriage in our head. We all enter marriage with expectations and this “picture” of how our spouse will behave. There came a point in our marriage when I had to begin letting go of that picture. I have to let him be who he is and love him for who he is.

No comparing! We all will see someone else’s spouse doing something we wish ours would do. We don’t see what that other person does we wouldn’t want to live with. Comparing is futile and creates discontent.

It is not our job to change each other. Any change that happens in each other’s life is God’s work not ours. There’ve been times God worked in each of our hearts to bring about a desired change but it was not because of our efforts.

Prayer! Should be #1. The one most powerful and effective thing we can do for our spouse is pray for them.

Providing a safe haven. It’s a tough world out there. When we come together, we need to know we’ll be accepted (not criticized or nagged) and loved. We need to know we’ll be safe.

Words are powerful! Words of affirmation renew and strengthen while a critical word crushes the spirit. We have tried not to use words that tear each other down but when we do (even if it is non-verbal such as “silent treatment”) forgiveness is key.

Commitment. Knowing we are committed to our marriage and to each other carries us through a lot

Yielding instead of demanding. Choosing to yield instead of always demanding our own way brings harmony and peace. On the other hand, I have learned that expressing what I feel and desire is important. Balance is important. It’s give and take.

The Lord Jesus Christ! He’s most important. Without Him we’re selfish, demanding, judging and critical. He’s the strength of our lives and our marriage and as we spend time reading the Bible and praying we learn to love and give.

Do we do these things perfectly? Of course not! But these are priorities on this journey. We have to make these choices everyday.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14 (NIV)

The tongue has the power of life and death…” Proverbs 18:21a (NIV)


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What are your thoughts about what makes marriage work?

Share with us here or at Living by Grace.



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Filed under Faith, family, forgiveness, God, Grace, hope, inspirational, Jesus, life, love, marriage, my husband, peace, personal, relationships

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