Is a marriage successful if a couple has a house with a white picket fence? What about if a couple makes such a comfortable living they want for nothing? Finally, what if they are so generous they live one 10% and give 90% of their income away?
These are all niceties, but none of them are what makes for a successful relationship. What does make for a successful relationship? I feel they are items that cannot be bought nor do they come without work.
Here are three elements that I have found that make for a great marriage and worthy for two people to pursue:
1. Allow each other to be free – The relationships that are the strongest allow each other the freedom to find themselves. They do not demand that each person only focus on the marriage; rather, each is allowed to pursue activities outside of the marriage as well.
2. Keep no record of wrongs – Conflict is an aspect to every relationship. However, in marriages where wrongs are kept then there is no peace. The person holding onto the hurts is left to relive the pain each day. The person who caused the pain is left to be blamed continually for the cracks in the relationship. Grace is the foundation of any relationship and its definitely needed in this situation. Forgiveness is what brings healing. However, forgiveness does not mean that one forgets what has happened. Rather, it means that each determines to move on by choosing to remember them from a distance.
3. Give energy to the relationship – I am flabbergasted at those couples, who after years of not putting focus on their relationship, wonder why they feel distant. The most common statement that illustrates this sentiment is “I just don’t love him/her any longer.” I don’t mean to make plight of someone’s circumstances; however, I wonder if these people realize that love is a choice and not a feeling. What they are truly saying in this statement is that I am actively choosing not to love this person any longer. Marriage (or any relationship for that matter) takes energy. Energy can be seen by going on continual date nights, talking time to connect by talking and spending quality time together, and recreating together. Now, this list is not all inclusive; of course there are more. However, this is a good place to start.
I know there are other items that make marriage (and relationships) work, but these are the top three for me…as I think about it tonight. Marriage is an active, liquid, and dynamic relationship between two people. Even though, in our culture, marriage has taken a beating, it still has been proven to house the happiest and wealthiest people. Marriage is not the issue, nor the problem. It is the people within a marriage that are the problem. This issue is to be expected since marriage is the making of two broken people trying to find wholeness in a relationship.
Are you married? What are the elements that make you want to pursue being married?