Three Vital Elements for a Lasting Marriage
We often think it will be what we have in common, how we are similar or compatible that will make a marriage last. I love the scene in the movie, Nacho Libre, in which Nacho tells Sister Encarnacion that her favorites are also his favorites every day. Commonalities draw us together, but do they make it last?
What will make the relationship last?
Brian and I quickly began to like each other’s company after a quick introduction. I liked that I found character qualities in him that I thought were important in a man. But if I am honest, I also liked how he made me feel. His intentionality, interest, and thoughtfulness just made me feel plain good. Of course I liked feeling special, significant, and valued. His attention made me feel all of those things. But what about the days ahead, when I knew I wouldn’t have all those feelings? What about at the end of a day when I didn’t think my needs were met?
The Short list
There is a short list and a long list. This is the short list. It is not an exhaustive list of all the things that contribute to a lasting relationship. No, there are just three things on this list. After twenty-two years of marriage there are three things Brian and I point to as vital for a lasting relationship. You don’t have to wait to get married to practice or benefit from each. This is one reason I like these– right now, wherever you are, no matter your relationship status you can work on these three things.
1. Complete and Full
Early in marriage couples often expect their married life to be similar to when they were dating– more carefree and with little responsibility. Each is always thinking about the other and making them feel good inside. With time and additional responsibility, comes change. He is not always thinking about her. She is not always meeting his every need. Personally, if I am dependent on Brian’s continual affirmation, presence, and gestures to feel valued, then I will soon feel empty. If I am waiting for him to meet my every need, to always affirm me, and to sort of “fill” me up, I am going to be utterly disappointed.
Even though we “complete” each other as a couple, our “completeness” or “fullness” as an individual must come from something much greater, more abundant and vast in resources than another person. It needs to come from something with reservoirs which are able to fill me up continually. In Christ, I am complete. He fills me up.
Being complete in Christ is something that Brian and I have come to find as foundational in our relationship. If we are full in Christ, complete in Him, we have much more to give. Sometimes I don’t feel full and I want Brian to make me feel better– to meet my deepest need for love, value and significance. If I try and demand this from him, our relationship will not thrive. Brian often points me to these truths. When I have failed, care too much what others think, feel let down or left out, he reminds me that he loves me, but also that I am completely loved by God. God’s love offers satisfying fulfillment with deep reservoirs. The best thing we can do for our marriage is to find our completeness in Christ and to experience the fullness of God’s unfailing love. When we are full, we are each a better spouse. When we are full, we don’t have to demand our needs be met. When we are full, we have much more love to give.