I was going to share this yesterday on Valentine’s Day, but I was busy spending the day and night with the love of my life. Time is the most precious gift we can give each other.
This post was written by my sister and echos our experience of nearly 24 years together. Does it resonate with you?
By Kim Godawa
In our world of too many shades of gray, making a commitment to spend your entire life with one person in marriage is a bold move. Why? Because I think all human beings want to be “known” without fear of rejection. At the same time we all fear exposure of our true self. Let’s face it, we don’t’ see many successful marriages for good role models. But my Grandpa used to say, “There are no perfect marriages, but there are successful ones.”
So what makes a marriage successful?
After 27 years of being married (to each other), we feel very blessed to still be joyful and satisfied with each other. Building a strong marriage requires basic elements that create a strong foundation to weather the inevitable disappointments and changes that life brings: infertility, unemployment, unfulfilled dreams, illness, and aging.
We would be guilty of “taking credit” from God without acknowledging up front that we have had a successful marriage because we have always tried to put God above ourselves. He is our authority and we’ve sought to follow and know Him in a personal relationship (individually and as a couple). From our experience, marriage seems to be God’s lab to test the theories we say we believe about Him. A few examples of this include:
A willingness to care more for each other than ourselves: On a practical level, we ask ourselves questions on a daily basis to help clarify our motives. (I.e. “Would this action/decision I’m about to make help my spouse feel respected, supported, and cared for? Or is this decision mostly about me?)
Negotiating is more powerful than winning: We’ve learned to individually focus on what we’ve contributed to a problem/argument, instead of focusing on what the other did wrong – or trying to change them. (I.e. Am I building my spouse up or am I tearing them down?)
Study your mate and learn how to please him/her: What activities do they enjoy? What kinds of foods do they like? Where do they feel most comfortable? What makes them succeed and feel safe?
Learn wisdom from others’ experiences: There are many resources that have helped us to build a spiritual foundation and purpose in our marriage. Understanding male/female differences, as well as seeking counsel from others solve many of our problems. These three authors have (including my parents amazing marriage as a role model) helped us tremendously.
- Elisabeth Elliott – “Let me be a woman”; “Keep a Quiet Heart”
- Dennis Prager’s – Male/Female hour podcast
- Tim Keller’s book – “The Meaning of Marriage”
So if you’re looking for a perfect marriage – give it up. Try working toward a successful one instead!