3 Unexpected Ways to Make Your Marriage Last
By Katie MacDougall, LPC
I mindlessly scrolled through social media at the end of a long day of travel. A stunning picture of my friend caught my eye. I read the caption, excited to see that she seemed to be doing so well.
Then I saw it.
The caption told the story.
She was no longer married.
My heart sank and questions began to flood my mind.
“How could this happen to them?”
“Is any marriage safe?”
While she wasn’t my first friend to have a marriage end in divorce, this news was unexpected and heartbreaking. They still seemed in love. They’d been through so much together.
Professionally, I see marriages in pieces often. Yet, I never cease to feel sadness as I hear of marriages that end. These events always leave me wondering,
“How do marriages last?”
If you are reading this post, you are likely asking the same question. Below are three proven and unexpected ways to make your marriage last.
Seek Fulfillment Outside Your Spouse.
No spouse is designed to wholly meet the needs of another spouse. That’s God’s job. When you seek fulfillment wholly through your spouse, you always end up feeling disappointed and empty.
Practically, what does it mean to seek fulfillment outside your spouse?
This kind of fulfillment requires spending time with God daily. If you want to make your marriage last, take time to spend with the One that designed marriage. Through prayer and Bible reading, God can equip you to be a better spouse.
This kind of fulfillment requires marriage safeguards. Finding fulfillment in God requires knowing what God requires. The Bible is the ultimate source of wisdom regarding marriage safeguards. As you seek to find fulfillment in God before your marriage, it is essential that your efforts align with Scripture. Your sexual and emotional fulfillment should not come from another human outside your spouse. Ever. Take time to set up marriage safeguards with your spouse or fiancé now. It’s never too early to set, add, or revise boundaries.
This kind of fulfillment requires mentor/mentee relationships. God designed us to grow and serve. If you don’t have someone from the same sex that is a little further down the road investing in you spiritually, you are doing your marriage and your spouse a disservice. The goal of having this person is not so you can share intimate details of your marriage with them. The goal of having this person is so they can help you grow spiritually, which will eventually help you be a better spouse and increase your likelihood for a lasting marriage. While having a same-sex mentee will challenge you in different ways, the concept is similar. The Lord will grow you as you pour into others, making you a better spouse. There is also a level of fulfillment that comes from helping someone else.
This kind of fulfillment requires deep, same-sex friendships and accountability. Women need women and men need men. No matter how good a relationship you and your spouse have, a spouse is not the same as a friend. Guys, you need other men to hold you accountable with your struggles and connect in ways that your wife doesn’t understand. Ladies, you need other women to hold you accountable with your struggles and talk to for hours on end when your husband’s eyes have glazed over.
This kind of fulfillment requires separate hobbies. Even if you and your spouse have similar interests, you need hobbies without each other. Separate hobbies can help make shared hobbies and time together more meaningful.
Get Help Before You Need It.
One of the most reputable, proven marriage counseling programs is credited to the Gottmans. The Gottmans encourage couples to seek preemptive marriage counseling. I would encourage the same for all couples. Get tools and have conversations long before you have issues in your relationship. I not only encourage premarital counseling, I also encourage pre-engagement counseling.
Always Do 100% of the Work Yourself.
When beginning a relationship, we often think the other person isn’t doing enough. Women are often told in dating that men are responsible to pursue. I would agree that men ought to pursue women; however, I find that this concept sometimes translates into women feeling like men are wholly responsible to meet their emotional needs and fund every whim. Similarly, men are often told in marriage that women are fully responsible for household chores and raising children. Delegating work is different in every marriage, but this mentality often leads to dissatisfaction and frustration in marriage.
Instead of thinking about what the other person is responsible for doing, I would encourage couples to think more about their responsibilities. I often have individuals come into my office frustrated by a bad marriage that won’t change. These individuals are usually doing more of the work (as evidenced by their spouse’s unwillingness to join them in therapy), but it does not help them to bemoan their spouse’s shortcomings. Change happens when we examine our hearts and minds, working to change our behavior more than the behavior of the other person.
That is the key to a lasting marriage.
If you need help in your marriage, call us today at 405-664-3960.