By Robin May
A simple Google search for characteristics of a successful marriage will yield more than enough ideas on what it takes to make a marriage work. But while the different ideas on the ingredients needed to make a marriage work may be good, trying to cipher through all of it is more than a notion.
The truth is that marriage is a challenging terrain but one that can be navigated successfully…you just need a road map to help you. And it is up to you to decide what roadmap you are going to use.
As a mental health therapist, I’ve worked with many couples over the years, and I’ve seen the good and not so good. I’ve seen one person ‘fight’ for their marriage while the other one seemed disinterested in giving much effort at all. I’ve seen couples start counseling with little hope that they can make it work, but end up pleasantly surprised that they could reignite their spark.
I believe in marriage. Not because of my marriage. Not because of the union of couples I greatly admire. I believe in marriage because it is God’s institution. And He does all things well.
With that said, I believe there are 7 often overlooked characteristics that when incorporated by both partners can create a strong and long lasting romance. While the often discussed ingredients (trust, communication, friendship, etc.) are important, it is equally (if not more so) important that we push past the surface and identify other character traits that impact our relationship.
Ready? Here are the 7 Characteristics that point to a successful marriage:
It is very easy for us to see the challenges our spouse has and minimize how we contribute to the chaos in our marriage. But being able to admit your role in the challenges you and your spouse face, and being willing to do something about your role, will help to keep the relationship strong.
2. Open to change
I know that once we hit a certain age, we become comfortable in the skin we are in. And rightfully so. But, being comfortable or confident in who you are does not discount the fact that we should all strive to become a better version of ourselves. Accepting that there may be areas where we can evolve will help our relationships stay on track.
In order to truly merge two lives together requires that both parties use sound judgment in their interactions, decision making and communication. Being open to a different perspective, even when vastly different from your own will ensure both parties feel acknowledged and respected in the relationship.
4. Receptive to accountability
As adults we sometimes forget that we still need support and wise counsel from others. It is at times a thin line between protecting the privacy of your relationship and isolating. However, a healthy marriage is not a marriage that is independent of accountability. With that said, it is critical that you are careful as to who you trust to give you guidance.
5. Properly prioritizing the relationship
Many of us make the mistake of paying attention to the urgent and ignoring what is important. Urgent matters often demand that we respond immediately and therefore we neglect the areas that may not be as demanding, but many times have a greater life impact. Couples in a healthy marriage don’t allow the demands of life to constantly suffocate the needs of their relationship, and they are willing to make the tough choices to realign if they get off track.
6. Intentional forgiveness
Because marriage consists of two human beings trying to become ‘one’, it is inevitable that we might unintentionally (or, if we are honest, maybe at times intentionally) hurt one another. Choosing to show grace in those moments, offer the gift of forgiveness and hit reset on the relationship, is the difference between a strong marriage and one that is bound for trouble.
7. Embracing a higher standard
People of faith realize that their marriage is not just about them. It is a picture that represents God’s love for His church. Therefore, remembering that while you may not FEEL like being loving or you may not be THINKING positively about your spouse, your marriage is bigger than you. Making decisions based on God’s standards and not your own will help you do what you may not want to do to make your marriage work!