5 Keys to a Marriage that Survives and Thrives
Every year I have the privilege of officiating at weddings. As a minister, it is a great honor to be asked to perform a ceremony for the big day for a couple and two families. I meet with the couple at least three times to plan the wedding, and I pray about what message I should share with them during the ceremony.
To be honest, most couples are so caught up in the moment and the big day that they don’t remember what I say. Yet, it is the wedding guests that often come up to me and thank me for the message. The following wedding message is one I wrote years ago and used recently with revisions for a beautiful Christian couple.
Today we rejoice that God has brought these two together, each with their own gifts, their own strengths, their own needs, so they can be more blessed together than apart. I want to share with the couple and with you the five keys to having a healthy marriage.
The first key to Marriage is FORGIVENESS – a healthy couple knows how to forgive.
In Romans 3:23 – All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Everyone makes mistakes, but everyone can find forgiveness with God as long as your pride does not get in the way. John and Mary, you must resist the temptation to prove that you are right, and your partner is wrong. In 1 Corinthians 13, we read that “Loves bears all things.”
The second key to Marriage is TIME – a healthy couple knows how to be available to each other.
You have to make time for each other and show that your forgiveness does not come with conditions or by playing games. Only when you are available can you work through the challenges and problems that will come your way.
God made himself known through His son Jesus Christ as we read in the most famous of scriptures, For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
The third key to Marriage is EXPECTATIONS – A healthy couple knows that you can’t be everything for each other.
Some people get married thinking, “She will always make me happy,” or “He will always provide me with enough love” or“We can handle everything by ourselves. A great marriage is not a 50-50 arrangement, but both partners give 100% effort and commitment.
In Ephesians 4:15, the Apostle Paul said to speak the truth in love. People forget or don’t read what Paul wrote in verse 12 on how you can speak the truth in love: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
The Fourth Key to Marriage is to CHANGE TOGETHER – A healthy couple knows that they will have to make adjustments in their life together.
“Adjustment” is another word for making changes. Before I was married, my father told me that people change over the years, and the secret to a long and blessed marriage is to change together. We all resist change because we are not sure things will be better than what we have now. With faith, we can see change as something good.
Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and trusts Him will be changed by the unconditional love of God and will be blessed with the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
And finally, the Fifth Key to Marriage is JOY – a healthy couple knows how to celebrate life together.
You will have a joyful, fulfilled life when you commit your lives to love God and each other. Jesus said about those who believe,
“I have come that they may have life, and they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Life is hard, and a couple that can find joy and laughs even in the toughest challenges will make it. The key to joy is not the circumstances of your life, but the commitments of your life. When you are both committed to God and each other, your joy and love together will last.
Paul Arnold is a husband, father, grandfather, and currently serves as a chaplain to a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He hosts several podcasts – Man to Man (career advice for men) and Pardon the Confusion (Sports) that are found on iTunes and www.redcircle.com