The Secret to a Successful Marriage

The Secret to a Successful Marriage

By: Alyssa J Howard

We’ve all heard the statistics. Over fifty percent of marriages fall apart, and that number increases for subsequent marriages. We site a plethora of reasons for our divorces. We fall out of love. We desire to be with some more “compatible” or who better meets our needs. We fight too much. We simply aren’t happy. We deserve better. They are no longer the person I married. With every reason, we feel justified in walking away. It simply isn’t working anymore… right? When it comes down to it, however, these are usually not the REAL reasons someone ends up divorced. The root of every one of these excuses is the desire to please oneself first and foremost. Instead of marriage being about serving your spouse, it becomes all about meeting your own needs and making yourself happy.

  • Do what makes you happy…
  • You have to love yourself before you can love someone else…
  • Follow your heart…
  • Only you can make your dreams come true…
  • You can do anything you set your mind to do…

These are just some of the sayings that we hear constantly in our culture today. Even my daughters’ favorite television shows (designed for toddlers) preach these “truths.” At first glance, they seem like harmless sayings. In fact, they sound quite good. The problem with these sayings, however, is that they are half-truths. They place all of the emphasis on self. YOU can do anything. Make YOU happy.

The truth is that if you go into marriage with this type of selfish mentality, you are seriously crippling your relationship. Doing what makes you happy may mean that you are justified in walking away from your marriage if you’re ever unhappy. You deserve to be happy right?

Marriage was designed to be sacrificial – it requires serving the needs of your spouse before your own.

We can’t control the actions of others; we can only control our own actions. If I’m expecting my husband to make me happy all the time and he doesn’t meet my expectations, we have a problem. But if my goal is to meet HIS needs, that’s something I have control over.

You see, the truth about marriage is that it was designed to be more about service than about romance. Yes, marriage certainly has its romantic side; but romance was never the purpose of marriage.

I love how the Message translation conveys the Apostle Paul’s words regarding marriage:

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. – Ephesians 5:22-28 (MSG)

Now I must include a disclaimer with this post: sometimes divorce happens beyond our control. Sometimes the other spouse walks away and gives us no say in the matter. Sometimes they cheat with no intention of changing their ways. And in worst case scenarios, abuse is involved. I’m not talking about these cases. Not every divorce stems from selfish desires. But unfortunately, if you’re idea of marriage has more to do with what you are getting out of it more than what you are putting into it… you are heading towards a dangerous path.

  • Do what makes God happy…

Serving God leads to true joy that can’t be taken away (a joy that your spouse can’t possibly provide).

  • You have to love God before you can truly love someone else…

It’s His love flowing through you that allows you to genuinely forgive others, make allowances for their faults, and love unconditionally.

  • Follow after God’s own heart…

Allow His desires to become your desires.

  • Only God can make your dreams come true…

When God plants dreams deep within your heart, He is faithful to make them come true.

  • You can do anything you set your mind to do…

When your heart and mind are in line with Christ’s, you can do all things through Him who gives you strength.

Here’s the challenge: Seek to serve.

So many of us think, “I’ll serve my spouse when they (fill in the blank).” But it isn’t about what “they” do. It’s about what you do. God will notice and honor your service, even if your spouse doesn’t.


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