Recently a smart young woman asked me what I thought it took for a successful marriage. We only had a moment, she was at work, I was on my way to an appointment. However, three answers came to mind immediately.
First, learn how to love. When you love someone, you serve them. Love is more than a feeling, love is what you do. Love commits in good and difficult times, whether you or your spouse is healthy and prospering, or sick and experiencing lack. Love serves one another. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and you get a first hand look at love. People on average fall in love and out of love in about two years. Alarmed that they lost that lovin’ feeling they look for another “lover” hoping to find that happy feeling again. True lovers love and commit and discover a lifetime of happiness.
Second, learn to listen. Listen well to what your spouse says to you. Be slow to respond until you are sure you understand what the other person is saying. Mirror back to them what you think they said. If you listen well, you can respond with love and understanding. Take time everyday for the two of you to sit down and ask about one another’s day. What was the best thing happened today? Build a lifetime of reflecting on good memories.
Third, learn to forgive. Most of tend to remember how we have been hurt. We forget how often we have hurt others. Marriage requires a lot of forgiveness. Busyness, carelessness, accidentally, in anger, oversight, and selfishness can cause us to hurt someone. Quickly acknowledge and confess when we hurt our spouse. Just as quickly forgive. Release it and let it go.