Life is often a matter of ‘gettin-er-done’; of doing the things we must. In the aspects of life that really matter, we’ve got to move beyond “I should do that” to “These things I will do.”
Marriage is one of those critical aspects of life. Certainly in the ‘Must Succeed’ category.
Winston Churchill once said that,
“it is of no use saying “I did my best.” You must succeed at doing what is necessary.”
I believe these two commitments are part of ‘doing what is necessary’ for a successful marriage.
1 Commit to make the most of yourself.
Many individuals consciously, or unconsciously, commit to make their spouses better. But too few make and keep the commitment to consistently improve themselves.
Make it easy for your spouse to stay attracted to you. Don’t let yourself go… emotionally, socially or physically!
-Some couples take up permanent residence in their sweats, and then consume junk food until they push the elasticity limits of those sweats. Get in shape and stay there! Eat well together. Exercise together. Continue trying to look good for each other.
-Avoid the temptation to become social recluses. Go out together to meet and serve other people. Be active, kind neighbors and friends.
-Fight off the tendency to let go of your emotional control. You are NOT a victim of your emotions, even during ‘that time of the month.’ You wouldn’t act like that in public (I hope), so don’t act like that at home. I think it is tragic that we allow some of our worst behavior to be toward the people who mean the most to us, and we are ‘on our best behavior’ in public among strangers.
It may be helpful to you, as it is to me, to pick someone you admire and ask, “Would I act like this if he or she were here?” When it comes to emotional mastery, if you wouldn’t behave like that in front of someone you admire, then certainly don’t do it with the most important person in your life!
The Love Triangle
-There exists a beautiful Love Triangle. Picture it in your mind. At the top is point is God. The other two points are Husband and Wife. As you each move upward, drawing closer to God, you automatically draw closer to each other. We draw closer to God by striving to live by ‘every word that proceedeth forth from the [His] mouth.” In other words, study His teachings and apply them in your life. Be Christ-like in all that you do, especially in your marriage.
-Commit to be a life-long learner. Read and study. There is never a graduation from education! Learn and grow and share what you learn with your spouse. Study personal development and marriage.
-Commit to be financially wise. Stop wasting money. Pay tithing. Pay yourself at least 10%. Consumerism is consuming us. Don’t get sucked in!
-Commit to prioritize your life and act accordingly. Put first things first. If secondary things remain unaccomplished because you are giving time to your highest priorities, so be it. Too many of us give our precious time to the things of lesser importance.
2 Commit to love and serve your spouse.
Love is a choice! It is not something we fall into and out of. You are not a victim of your emotions. We decide! We were sent here with the power to choose and act, not just to be acted upon.
Someone once said,
“Choose your love and love your choice.” Enough said.
-Make service a habit. Look for small ways to serve your spouse every day, and then discipline yourself to serve even when you don’t feel like it. In fact, especially when you don’t feel like it. That is when it is needed most.
-Consistently do kind and romantic things for your spouse. Some of these will be small and simple, like a love note in the fridge or a letter of sincere gratitude. (Yes, the post office still sends letters. 😉 Other times, you will be richly rewarded for doing something great. My wife recently took a trip. She expected all of us (5 kiddos and me) to pick her up at the airport. I surprised her by getting some friends to take the kids overnight so we could stay at a nice hotel and have an awesome date together.
Don’t become part of the statistics.
Up to 60% of marriages in the US are ending in divorce, and the median length of marriage is only 11 years. This is a very sad trend. These numbers reveal even sadder stories of hurt, sorrow, despair, anger and misery. Do not allow your marriage to become one of these statistics.
Marriage should be, and for me is, a wonderful adventure of love, learning, growth, work, play and service.
Married life can, and should be, FANTASTIC!
If yours is not, then do something about it. Act on this marriage advice. Make better decisions; become a better person. Think more, do more, be more. Again, avoid the temptation to try to improve your spouse. Begin with yourself; it will inspire your spouse to growth with you.
Your marriage will not succeed by default. You have to plan for it, prepare for it and work at it. You can’t put your marriage on cruise control or auto pilot and expect to succeed. We have to be actively engaged in the relationship.
Expect it to be wonderful and then do something today, and every day, to make that way!
Here’s to your AWESOME marriage!