The Question That Could Save Your Marriage Before it Begins
- Friday, October 10, 2003
The odds-makers say the chances are five in ten that a marriage will end in divorce. If one or both partners are still teenagers, they say the odds for divorce are even higher. If either partner witnessed an unhappy marriage at home, the odds increase again. If one or both partners come from broken homes, the odds rise even higher. If either partner has been divorced, the odds soar. If there has been regular sexual involvement before marriage, or if either or both partners abuse alcohol or drugs, the odds skyrocket.
Well, regardless of your marriage "odds," we have a soul-searching question for you that will help you beat them. Are you ready? Ask yourself this: How would I like to be married to me?
That simple question can do more to help you ensure the success of your relationship than just about anything else. Think about it. How would you rate you as a partner? Are you easy to live with? What are the positive qualities you bring to a relationship?
Learn the lesson Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians: "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise" (10:12).
Every relationship is unique, and while there is no definitive list of qualities that describe good partners, consider some of the traits that show up again and again in studies of lifelong love. Research, for example, has shown that partners who are easy to live with feel good about themselves. They are not unduly concerned over the impression they make on others. They can throw back their heads, breathe deeply, and enjoy life. This kind of person is described in Galatians: "...he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else" (6:4). People who make good lifelong marriage partners also have a way of passing over minor offenses and injustices. In other words, they are not easily offended (see Rom. 14:20; Prov. 17:9). Some spouses punish their partner with time in the penalty box for the ordinary bruises that happen to people who play the game.
Partners who are easy to live with are cooperative. They get along. They understand what the psalmist meant in saying, "How good and pleasant is it to live together in unity" (133:1; see also Acts 4:32; Rom. 14:19). They also have an even and stable emotional tone. Nobody is attracted to an uncontrollable temper (see James 1:19-20). Good spouses communicate their needs openly and honestly (see Eph. 4:15). What they say is in sync with how they feel and what they want. They do not mask their feelings to protect their pride or even to avoid hurting their partner's feelings. Instead, they share their innermost thoughts, the good and the bad (see Col. 3:12).
You may not have every advantage for a successful marriage; few do. But you can pray with the psalmist: "Search me, O God, and know my heart" (139:23). By searching your soul, by questioning your character, and by becoming easy to live with, you will exponentially increase the probability of building a relationship that will last. Paul says that people who are easy to live with shine like stars in the universe (see Phil. 2:15).
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