What Is the Secret to a Lasting Marriage?
- Jaime Jo Wright Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- Published Oct 25, 2023
When my parents crossed the half-century of marriage threshold, there was a quiet celebration within the family. My parents are relaxed, simple folk, so a huge party was not on the roster of things that would make fifty years feel meaningful. For many, it is. The gathering of friends and family to laud and applaud the time of commitment and the faithful appreciation of marriage vows is an earmark to a marriage well-lived.
No matter how fifty years of marriage is ushered in, it is very apparent: it happens less and less. Divorce impacts almost 50% of all American marriages. This means every wedding you attend has a 50/50 chance of surviving. In a betting game, I'd probably walk away from the table with those odds before I lost everything. This happens to be some of the philosophies behind the concept of divorce these days. Marriage is expendable; get out while you can. Let me be very clear: some circumstances impact marriages in such a way that divorce is perhaps the safest, if not the wisest, choice of action. There are biblical arguments and ramifications that go along with that statement, but divorce and staying married are not typically clear-cut.
But what is the secret to a lasting marriage? How do people stay married for half a century or more without bailing, being miserable, or committing proverbial murder? Better yet, is there a secret to a lasting marriage, and if so, why on earth are we keeping it secret?
Marriage isn't one-size-fits-all, which means the tribulations that are one hundred percent guaranteed to impact your marriage are also not universal. Therefore, the response to those trials can't be summarized in an online article, a blog post, a marriage column, etc. So, in the quest for a surviving marriage, we need to take a giant step out and up from the relationship and get a bird's eye perspective of the institution of marriage.
Secrets? Maybe not secrets so much as foundational principles. This is what exists when marriage is observed through the eyes of its creator God and the lens of marriage as a whole.
Let's chat about a few of them:
1. Build on bedrock.
Most of us are familiar with the story Jesus told of building one's house on the sand versus the rock. If you're not familiar with it, in summary, Jesus' point was if you build a house on shifting sand, it will eventually collapse. If you build on a rock, it will weather the storms because its foundations are solid.
This is also true in marriage. A foundation that is drilled into the bedrock of marriage becomes far more capable of weathering the storms. Shifting sand will create cracks in the relationship, tug and pull, and be the white-knuckled grasping of fingers that keep it together.
But what is the foundation of rock? It's a nice thought and all, but isn't that what we're all trying to figure out?
2. Identify the source of your foundation.
This is critical. If you think you're building a marriage on rock but find out it's the very breakable sandstone imitating a solid rock, you might be in for trouble. You want granite-strong. So what is that?
Culture today probably won't readily embrace the answer. The foundation is not the relationship itself. It isn't your love for one another (trust me, that ebbs and flows). It's also not the environment around you—although one might argue that it influences the relationship's stability.
The foundation of the marriage is granite when you link with the builder of the house of marriage. Your relationship with God is the central, most pivotal part of building a lasting marriage. And not just your relationship to God as a couple, but individually. In the end, you will stand before your Lord as an individual, not as a married couple. It is His Spirit that will link you together. Think of it as a triangle, with Spouse #1 at the bottom left corner, Spouse #2 at the bottom right corner, and the Lord at the top corner. The lines between angles combine it into a working relationship grounded in one central point.
3. Intensely devote yourself to your relationship with the Lord.
One might think that saving a marriage requires immense concentration on the other person. While this shouldn't be flippantly discarded, an argument can and should be made that the concentration should be on your relationship with the Lord.
Studying and learning the building techniques of the master-builder will help you understand this house that He has built. You will learn self-sacrifice, unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, mercy - all the attributes needed in a solid marriage. These examples do not come in the imperfect form of humanity. There is no simple solution to a lasting marriage. There is no magical formula. When interviewed, many who are successful will say: "forgive each other," "laugh together," "look the other way," "show each other grace," and so on. But while they may be good tips, do they truly save a marriage? Can a marriage be functional and healthy for fifty-plus years if you look the other way, forgive each other without finding healing, or laugh together but ignore the tears?
Marriage will be tested. It will be tried. Much of life will try its hardest to destroy the relationship. This hurricane of testing is nothing to play around with. Marriages with a higher percentage rate for a chance of success are marriages grounded on the principles that are the nails and the framework in the foundation, with the foundation being the solid rock of Christ.
Granted, yes. Some marriages succeed without all that. They succeed simply by chance or by hard work. But the fulfillment of a marriage infused with the Holy Spirit and souls that are submitted to the guidance of the Lord is incomparable! Those times when tribulation comes, spouses with submissive spirits before God will be instructed by the consistent influence of His Spirit. This will be pivotal to being on the same page, finding resolution, and being of one mind.
When I look at my parent's successful marriage that ended only when my mom went to be with the Lord, I am reminded of their commitments made not to each other but to their relationship with Christ. I remember the many times I found them, solo, deep in the Scriptures, or in prayer. Yes, they came together in that relationship, too, forming it and framing it around the construct of Christ, but they also embraced it on their own.
Nothing can compare to God-centered marriage. Nothing can withstand the storms like a relationship rooted in His promises, principles, and attributes. Does this take work? An immense amount of work! A lazy marriage is destined to fail. Marriage isn't meant just to bring pleasure and personal fulfillment. It is meant to fulfill a larger picture—our relationship to our Lord—and exemplify that in our marriage to each other.
The secret to a lasting marriage, may very well shift from person to person's definition. But the SECRET to a lasting marriage didn't make Himself a secret. He made himself a sacrifice. For us. May we do the same for each other.
Jaime Jo Wright is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author. Her novel “The House on Foster Hill” won the prestigious Christy Award and she continues to publish Gothic thrillers for the inspirational market. Jaime Jo resides in the woods of Wisconsin, lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com and at her podcast madlitmusings.com where she discusses the deeper issues of story and faith with fellow authors.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Read the full article here!