A cell phone started ringing in the middle of a couple’s wedding. The minister who was marrying the couple was not amused. As he started chiding the congregation about turning off their phones, he realized it was his cell that had been ringing. Oops.
It’s that time of year when wedding stories are the topic of many conversations. Positive or negative, marriage ranks #7 on the Holmes-Rahe stress scale; marital separation ranks higher at #3 and marital reconciliation is #9. Therefore, the work of getting married and staying married can be stressful but is definitely worth the effort and commitment. When marriage is done right, the benefits outweigh the negatives. For example, married people live longer and are generally healthier than single people.
Despite all the known marital benefits, the number of people who cohabitate continues to be on the rise. Surprisingly, the biggest rise is among those 50 and over. This group has grown 75%, possibly due to relaxed attitudes towards living together, divorce and legal issues. Whatever the reasons, know that marriage is still God’s plan for couples and families. Both God and science confirm marriage as a better alternative than living together.
To understand marriage is to know that it was designed to be a covenant, not a contract as our current culture now defines it. A covenant is an unbreakable promise. Marital love is more than a feeling. The biblical love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) so often read at weddings tells us that love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. Imagine applying this definition of love to your marriage. It would be a game changer.
When you recognize the importance of marriage, do everything you can to strengthen it. Here are 6 ways to keep a marriage strong:
- Touch is powerful. Most married couples hug for 3 seconds or less each day. You can change your biochemistry for the positive by hugging your spouse daily! And cuddle in bed. Couples who cuddle and touch skin-to-skin have more relationship satisfaction.
- Spend time together as a couple. Whether it is a staycation, a short weekend or vacation away, focus on each other and reconnect. Take time to relax and enjoy each other without distractions.
- Focus on the positives of your relationship. What are you grateful for and what about your spouse do you love or like? This positive focus improves mood and feelings towards your partner. It is characteristic of healthy couples.
- Create goals and meaning together. What do you both care about and could involve yourself in doing that would bring you together? That might be ministry in a church, starting a business, remodeling, working for a charity, etc.
- Have your spouse’s back. Your spouse should feel you will always be there to support them. The more security you have in the marriage, the more esteem and feelings of romantic love you will have.
- Love deeply. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Marriages are not perfect. Spouses have bad days and make mistakes. Forgiveness is key, but love will keep you strong.