Every marriage faces its share of troubles. Happy marriages are no exception. Arguments, money problems, and drifting apart due to the busyness of daily life are just a few of the struggles that couples face.
These challenges can make it difficult to keep a marriage strong. But these 6 signs can act as guideposts on the road to a happier, healthier marriage.
You Have Fun Together
John Gottman writes about the importance of what he calls the “fondness and affection system” in his bestselling book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”. This is a fancy way of talking about the quality of the friendship between you and your spouse.
A stronger sense of friendship will act as a buffer against all the negative things that affect your marriage each day. When fondness and affection are lacking, a small argument can be a huge blow to your relationship. But when you truly enjoy each other, you can recover even from a big, nasty argument without too much trouble.
The best way to maintain a strong sense of friendship is to regularly spend time having fun together. This can be as simple as watching show on Netflix or playing a board game together.
You Assume the Best of Each Other
It can be very easy to assume the worst of your spouse in the middle of a heated argument. She’s trying to control me!
He never thinks about my feelings!
He doesn’t care about me!
We fling these accusations around. Or we hold them to ourselves, never voicing them. If we don’t deal with them, pretty soon we find them affecting our thoughts even when we’re not in the middle of a conflict, like a poison slowly seeping in and eroding the sense of fondness and attachment for each other.
My wife and I, and other healthy couples, make it a habit to choose to believe the best of each other, even during those times when we don’t feel it. This sense of mutual respect strengthens the friendship between us
You Easily Forgive
Love does not keep a record of wrong. (See 1 Corinthians 13:5)
When two fallible people live in such close proximity and intimacy, small hurts are guaranteed. If you hold on to these hurts the resentment and bitterness that builds up will eventually overcome the sense of mutual respect, fondness, and affection that are so vital to a healthy marriage.
Letting go of these injuries is not always easy. But holding on to them can be even more difficult, and certainly more damaging.
You Easily Apologize
Apologizing is just as important as forgiving. Being able to admit your faults and genuinely ask for forgiveness can be tough. Apologizing when you’re certain you’re right, but your actions caused unintended harm, is even harder.
Owning your flaws is one of the keys to maintaining trust in your relationship.
You Attend Church Together
You’ve probably heard that Christians have the same divorce rate as non-Christians.
Turns out, this is a myth, based on a misunderstanding of studies done by the Barna Group. The study found that there is virtually no difference in the divorce rate (about 33%) between non-Christians and people who claim to be Christians on a survey.
But of course there is a vast difference between people who claim to be Christians and those who actually practice Christian behaviors. The same Barna study reveals that church attendance correlates with a 27% lower divorce rate than non-attendance. Other studies show similar correlations, ranging from 25%-50% reduction in divorce rates.
It’s important to note that correlation does not prove causation. In other words, there may be other reasons why the divorce rate is lower among church attenders. One reason that most likely contributes to this correlation is that individuals may stop going to church after getting a divorce. However, that wouldn’t be the cause for all of the drop in this statistic, so going to church really does improve your chances of staying happily married.
You Make Time For Each other
As I said earlier, one of the most important traits of a healthy marriage is a quality of friendship between you and your spouse. Making time for each other is important to maintain the sense of “fondness and affection”. I already covered having fun together in point 1.
Now I’d like to talk about something similar, but slightly different. Healthy couples make time for each other, this includes fun activities, but it also includes things that might not be considered “fun” by some people. Such as talking about important issues, or reading the Bible together, and praying together. This can also include serving in your church together, or volunteering at a local ministry, and even doing simple things like chores and grocery shopping together. Bonus points if you can find ways to make these activities more fun.