In the eyes of Christians, marriage is a powerful symbol of the relationship between Christ and the church.
A successful marriage can give us a glimpse of the faithful, lasting love that God has for all His people. Even so, marriages frequently fall short of this ideal.
So what makes a marriage successful in the eyes of God?
The official legal definition of marriage is the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.
The Bible, however, defines marriage as more of a covenant, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Marriage is a fundamental social institution, documented in both secular and Biblical sources as far back as we can trace it.
In the Christian faith, God created the first union in Eden with Adam and Eve.
The marriage between the two illustrates how marriage is about friendship. When talking about the creation of Eve for Adam, God suggests the type of friendship he had in mind, using the phrase, "a helper fit for him."
This story highlights one of the most fundamental characteristics of a godly marriage: that spouses become "one flesh." This is perfectly put in Colossians 3:14 which says, "and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
While married couples remain two separate individuals physically, they become one spiritually in God's ideal for marriage.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9, the Bible says, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?"
There are three commonly held beliefs about what a marriage is.
While these cover the fundamental aspects of marriage, it’s important to keep in mind that a marriage based on love and respect doesn't just happen. Both spouses have to do their part.
Ephesians 4:2-3 says, "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
While it's believed to be one of the greatest joys of life, it’s important to keep in mind that God hasn't made marriage a requirement for His children.
Remember, marriage isn’t always for everyone, and scripture describes singleness as a gift because it allows freedom and flexibility. Jesus himself didn’t get married during his journey on Earth.
However, if you wish to get married or are already married, here are some secrets to a successful marriage.
There’s nothing more exciting than a wedding.
During all the excitement, it's hard to recognize that without similar values and world views, your marriage could suffer in the long run.
Additionally, living with another person — especially if you have never lived with an individual who isn't family before — can be challenging.
Couples who understand that there are far more important principles at play that create a better marriage experience tend to have an easier time after the wedding bells have stopped chiming.
To help you identify them, here are the top reasons that marriages are successful.
When you share the same values with your spouse, it means that you both believe in the same core things that make up who you are.
Even though each couple is unique, when both of you value similar things, such as being faithful in marriage, similar religious and political beliefs, and contributing to the broader community, it can create a stronger bond between you both.
It can also mean that you have a deeper understanding of one another.
The best way to maintain a healthy and successful marriage is to talk to your spouse.
The foundation of good communication is being a good listener and understanding your spouse's desires and needs. Maintain open communications by talking often and not just about what you did that day.
Make sure you tell the truth about how you feel and make sure that you're respectful and kind when you communicate. Honesty and trust become the foundation for everything in a successful marriage.
If you and your spouse have trouble communicating, there's no shame in employing the help of a priest or a marriage therapist. Marriage counseling can be a great way to get valuable marriage advice.
Despite the imperfections of every person, patience and forgiveness will always be essential to a successful relationship.
Couples in a happy marriage learn to be unfailingly patient and forgiving to their partners. They can admit their own shortcomings and not expect perfection in their partner.
There is no attempt to hold their partner hostage by pointing out past mistakes. However, an unwavering ability to let go of the small stuff will guarantee a successful marriage.
It's commonly (and falsely) believed that showing respect is an act of inferiority.
However, respect in a healthy marriage isn’t a matter of inferiority but a two-way street. When one person has respect for the other, it does not indicate superiority. Instead, it implies mutual appreciation.
Each partner in the relationship deserves equal respect from the other, just as we all deserve respect from everyone on the Lord’s Earth.
Emotional support can only be obtained through emotional closeness.
Couples get to know and understand each other better when they have emotional intimacy. They also develop deep empathy for each other.
One way to achieve this is by being open about feelings, thoughts, beliefs, values, hopes, worries, fears, dreams, and ambitions. Set aside time every week to open up to each other. This could include a date night or little things like cooking a meal together.
Additionally, you need to create a space where your spouse feels comfortable opening up to you, too.
For many people, getting married is a public demonstration of love and lifelong commitment between two people.
But for Christians, there is an extra dimension due to the sanctity that God has bestowed upon a marriage. Being in a lifetime relationship can be difficult, even for the most pious. By relying on God for guidance and practicing these characteristics, we are more likely to succeed.
Remember, love is patient, love is kind.
For more on what makes a good marriage, download the pray.com app in the iOS App Store or Google Play.