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What makes a great marriage? Work, a godly focus and date nights can help

The Genesis account of man’s creation and placement in the Garden of Eden concludes with God’s statement that it is not good for man to be alone.
God then creates women from a part of Adam’s side. Their union was blessed by God, making marriage a central part of human experience for as long as man has inhabited the earth.
Marriage, however, has always been in trouble, but more now than ever before. It always has been difficult for mankind to be faithful to one mate. Men and women always have had wandering eyes, leading to infidelity. In earlier times, couples made the marriage work even when one or both were unfaithful.
Midway through the last century, divorce became common. Eventually, couples did not get married, but just lived together. I am deeply troubled by the number of young people in the church who live together before they marry.
Joyce and I celebrated our 56th anniversary in April. Our relationship has been such a great, life-changing experience that I want others to know the joy and challenges we have known.
We have neither been perfect, but Joyce has had an abundance of patience. We both agree that the hardest times were when we were raising children. We never developed a parenting style before we had children, and so our struggle had to do with being consistent. Fortunately we had good children who have made us very proud of their lives.
Commitment is a concept that our culture does not foster. And the secret to a good marriage is commitment. Joyce and I loved each other, and that love led to our commitment. We both took our marriage vows seriously. No conflict or disagreement has shaken our commitment, even though my temper and Joyce’s silence have created rough spots.
Like all relationships marriage requires work, and each person has to make that relationship a first priority every day.
Marriage counselors advise a weekly date night for couples at every stage of life. Because we waited several years for children, we had built an enduring relationship. We hardly ever left our children with someone else, knowing that our time with them was limited.
After the children were all in school, we had lunch together often. Sometimes we had business to work out. Often we just needed time to remind each other how much we loved and enjoyed each other.
Our youngest has now been married 21 years, so almost every night is date night when we still learn about each other and consider how God wants us to use the time and energy remaining.
Another important factor in a great marriage is a connection with God. Joyce grew up with a strong determination that she would be a spiritual person. Her parents were active leaders in church. My father became a Christian when he was 75, but he did not work against my mother’s faith. My mother read the Bible aloud to me, and she often shared Bible stories. I always wanted to understand more about God.
Joyce and I had different experiences with church, but we had a common faith in the central place of Jesus in our lives. We knew that we wanted our children to be strong believers, and we worked hard to help them know the Bible and the nature of God. We were always supportive of their spiritual quests. In a marriage where God is central, the couple has a strong foundation for building a shared life, seeking God’s help for crises and making decisions.
Young couples often have exceedingly high expectations of their new relationship. They expect sex to be an out-of-this-world experience. They believe that problems never will occur, and they often lack skills in working out the problems. They expect instant results when they have communicated about a problem.
They are better about seeking help than was our generation, but they are slow to seek help from trained people.
As trite as the idea is, people should have the maturity to know themselves and their needs before they consider choosing a partner for life. It is equally important for a couple to know each other that well. Marriage can make life richer and fuller, and it will where commitment exists.
CONTACT [email protected].

Filed under: Insight

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