If you spend any time in social media or watching major news channels, then you’re aware of the chaos-making headlines regarding the world today. People appear polarized in their beliefs and perspectives like never before. The more empowered and entitled they feel, the louder they become. Considering it all, no wonder so many folks today think the world is riddled with problems so complicated they can only be resolved using complex solutions.
What you just read can also be said about marriage. In fact, if you’ll take a moment to replace the phrase “the world” with the word “marriage”, you’ll see exactly what I mean! But are the solutions to these problems really all that complex? Maybe not so much, when we think fundamentally.
Everything in life deals with fundamentals. They are the blueprint of basic principles needed to be successful at anything. Fundamentals are the bedrock, or the core upon which all things are built or established. And yet, when these basic designs and fundamental principles are devalued or disregarded, chaos and conflict are inevitable. Just ask any couple who’s been married for decades. A dollar to a doughnut, they’d agree that when marriage fundamentals are valued, they result in joy and oneness. Yet, when they are devalued and disregarded, they bring conflict and division.
So, which relationship fundamentals do veteran spouses believe lead to marital bliss? Here’s what over 50 couples who have been married for at least a decade had to offer:
* Separate emotionally from family and friends (Gen. 2:24). When husbands or wives remain tethered emotionally to parents or close friends, it’s impossible to fully commit to the marriage, physically or psychologically. There must be a transition from “me” centered to “we” centered.
* Learn effective communication and conflict resolution skills (Eph. 4:29). Kinda goes without saying. Good listeners make good communicators. They also tend to know what to say and when to say it.
* Create and maintain a safe environment for each other (Eph. 5:21; Eph. 4:32). This means allowing each other to express frustrations or differences without fear of retribution or manipulation.
* Provide nurture, support and comfort for each other (Eph. 5:22-24; 5:33). Sometimes the best thing to say is “I’m sorry you’re hurting," instead of “You should have,” “You could have” or “I would have.” Almost everyone responds well to encouragement and empathy.
* Build togetherness by being on the same page regarding spirituality, finances, parenting, sex, family, friends and community. Weekly staff meetings are great for building togetherness (Philippians 2:2; 1 Peter 3:8).
* Never stop learning and serving. We change as we age and mature. Therefore, always be a student of each other intentionally serving each other in small ways.
* Laugh and have fun. Don’t let the busyness of life keep you from enjoying life.
In that marriage is the blending of two sinful, basically selfish individuals, there will always be problems resulting in some level of chaos. But, it’s only when spouses move away from valuing and exercising the fundamentals that experiencing joy in marriage becomes hopeless. Doing small fundamental things right over time will most generally lead to experiencing major successes.
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