We all know couple who have been married for 30, 40, 50 years or more years and these people truly inspire the rest of us. Yahweh intended for marriages to last till "death do us part." On the other side of the coin, we also probably know couples whose marriages have failed early on or even lasted many years then ended in bitter divorce.
What makes marriages fail, and what makes them last? Surely there must be steps we can take to ensure a lasting and fulfilling marriage. We know that wives are commanded to submit to their husbands and husbands are commanded to love their wives, but in what ways can we implement these two important factors?
First, realize that conflict is inevitable in even the best of relationships. That does not mean that couples have the right to yell and sling insults. Try to discuss difficulties when both of you are calm. Agree to take a “time out” if things begin to get out of hand, and come back together when both of you are in control of your emotions. Every day life can take a toll on the best of marriages—monthly bills, childbirth, illness, loss of a job, deaths in the family, etc., can all contribute to strained relationships.
Some couples need to re-examine their marriages and make sure to prioritize. Yahweh should always be our first priority and marriage and children the second. Everything else should be downgraded in status.
Commit to staying healthy together. Illness can take a huge toll on an otherwise healthy marriage. Many relationships have deteriorated due to one partner’s declining health. Of course illness happens to everyone and we can’t prevent all health problems, but we can be proactive in taking care of our temples (our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit!). Give up junk food, as many recent studies indicate that modern eating habits contribute to disease, obesity, and the so-called “brain fog.” It is no longer up for debate—you are what you eat!
Exercising as a couple has many benefits! Not only are you getting strong and fit together, you are also spending quality time with the one you love. Include your children for even more benefits. If possible, exercise outdoors. Take a walk through a shady park while the weather is still pleasantly warm or go hiking in the mountains. A summer picnic is also very inviting. There is something special about being near Yahweh’s creation that instills a sense of peace in our lives. Being cramped in a noisy city can cause stress in even the calmest person.
Couples also need to be willing to ask for help. This goes for husbands especially, since many men tend to feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Life can be tremendously overwhelming and there is nothing wrong with couples sitting down and sharing each other’s burdens. Even lending a listening ear can go a long way toward solving any tensions. Sometimes we need to fight the urge to offer advice because many times a person simply needs a sympathetic listener.
Another overlooked area is spending time together and time apart. These may sound like contradicting ideas, but both can serve wonderful purposes. Nurturing your own interests can keep your life happy and interesting. For example, the wife may enjoy browsing through antique shops while the husband loves fishing or hunting. Don’t demand that your spouse give up something he or she enjoys. It is perfectly okay to have personal, separate hobbies, as long as they do not interfere with one’s relationship with Yahweh or spouse. Having the space to pursue individual interests can make your time together much sweeter, as both spouses may feel recharged after indulging in the occasional hobby.
Learn to accept each others differences. For instance, I know that after all the years my husband and I have been married, he will never like eating peas, and I will never like citrus fruits. And we are okay with that! When couples first begin dating they are very careful to understand each other’s likes and dislikes. Don’t let that change once you are married.
Perhaps one of the most important keys is having a commitment to stay together and work things out no matter what. Let us strive for a marriage that Yahweh intended. Let our Heavenly Father be our number one priority and He will give us the “desires of our hearts”!