staying married

4 Vital Ingredients for Staying Married

“Till death do us part”… Those few words hold many levels of meaning to many different couples. To the newlyweds, those words are exciting. To the middle-aged couple, those words mean work. To the elderly couple, those words mean everything, because they hold their world together. Those words serve to remind us that marriage was created to be a permanent commitment. But in a society where nearly half of all marriages don’t make it despite good intentions, what does it take to stay married for the long haul?

My wife and I have been happily married for going on 19 years. And those words have more meaning today than they did nearly 20 years ago. Here are 4 ingredients we’ve learned are necessary for staying married “till death do us part.”

1. Love

Two people’s commitment to love no matter what is the first and most important ingredient for staying married.

The basis of marriage is love. And true love is not about what you can get, but about what you have chosen to unconditionally give. Two people feel in love. Then they fall in love. But eventually, they have to learn to love and sometimes, they even have to fight for love. Two people’s commitment to love no matter what is the first and most important ingredient for staying married. Yet, sometimes, love doesn’t win in the end. At times, selfishness wins, pride wins, anger wins, broken trust wins. Yet commitment to lifelong love is one of the most powerful forces in any marriage. It’s enduring, it’s sacrificial, it’s unconditional.

2. Trust

If a marriage is going to thrive, it needs to have a level of trust that continually grows with time. Healthy relationships are built upon mutual trust—the idea that both spouses reliably have each other’s best interests in mind. This requires a level of transparency that often can and should only be experienced in a marriage relationship. This is the kind of trust and transparency that potentially leave you vulnerable to your spouse, because they know you, both the good and the bad, unlike anyone else—and they still love you.

3. Prayer

Marriage is not a contract between two people but rather a covenant among three (a man, a woman, and God). For any marriage to truly succeed, there must be an emphasis on not only the emotional and sexual but also the spiritual. We were created for this, to know each other intimately on a relational, physical, and spiritual level. Praying together is a simple yet important way to maintain an ongoing spiritual connection to each other and to God.

4. Fun

Marriage was designed to be both desirable and enjoyable. And there are many practical ways for that to happen including date nights, getaways, intentional flirting, and scheduling sex. But our selfishness often gets in the way. Marriage was created to be fun. If it isn’t, you’re doing it wrong. This is why variety, adventure, spontaneity, and play in your relationship can be so important. If you and your spouse are going to make it for the long haul, you need to be regularly having and prioritizing fun together.

Sound off: In which of these areas could you step up your game this week?

Huddle up with your kids and tell them why you love them unconditionally.