What Makes Marriage Work

It seems that I hear of a marriage falling a part every day. It saddens me deeply, because it doesn't have to be this way ... you can make any marriage work. Now I realize that when trust has been violated, and hearts have been shattered, and vows have been broken it's tough. Really tough!

Why do I even care?

I care because I still believe in the institution of marriage, the sanctity of it. I love love! I am fascinated by love. It's powerful when two people can come together and commit to spend the rest of their lives with each other "till death do us part." And not to mention it is the best thing for kids for their parents to be together, of course not if the home is in utter shambles, but there isn't anything better for kids than to have both parents together forever AND happy. It's the way it should be. And when couple get divorced it wrecks havoc on the kids, and even extended family, friends, and society as a whole! Let's be honest, divorce sucks, big time!

Three Things That Make Marriage Work Well:

Disclaimer: What I am about to say is completely dependent on BOTH husband and wife participating! Both must be ALL in, 100%, 100%! One person can't make a marriage work, it takes two. So if you find yourself in a marriage where one is all in and the other is not, it's going to be difficult if not impossible for there to be any awesome stuff accomplished. Now, if you are the one pulling for the marriage I encourage you to pray like crazy! God will give you direction and wisdom. 

Also, no shame or judgment on those who have been divorced, or even those getting a divorce, poop happens! And it's a bummer. I am simply trying to help those who want help, or need a little punch in the arm to get them through a tough situation. 

First and most important ...

1) God

I'm not saying that in a trite arrogant stupid naive way! But when a couple is living a life for God, I mean really living a life after God then they will (should) want to be the Man (husband) or the Woman (wife) God wants them to be.

This means that a man who really loves God will do whatever he can to love and serve his wife and kids. He will be faithful to his wife and kids in every way. This doesn't mean he will do so perfectly and without stumbling along the way from time to time. But his heart is full-on devoted to his wife and kids. His family will be more important than his career, friends and hobbies. Because that is what a real man does!

Same goes for the woman, a woman who loves God will love, respect and serve her husband and kids! She will do whatever is needed to be the pillar of the home. Her husband will come before her friends, her career, or anything else. This is what a real woman does.

I believe God to be a critical facet in any relationship because IF you really really love God you will have a constant voice of *GOOD whispering in your ear encouraging you to love, to give, to cherish, to be faithful, to be strong, etc! It's that constant voice in your heart and mind to do what is right! Let's be honest here, we all need that! In much of society I feel a pull in the other direction! I feel society encouraging me to do whatever the heck I want to do! Basically encouraging me to only think of me, myself and mine. I believe "God" is a crucial aspect in having a happy, healthy long-lasting marriage.

*Hence the reason I encourage being a part of a church community! Not that going to church means you will never have marital issues, but you will have that constant voice of good in your ear, and a support group when and if you do ever face rough times. But I can say with complete certainty that your marriage will be better being a part of a church community than it would NOT being a part of a church community! I am absolutely certain of this.

2) Love Your Spouse

When you get married you give up only thinking of what you want. I don't think most people really get it. Marriage is a joy, a blessing, and full of freedom ... but its a freedom to be faithful, loving, self sacrificing.

When you get married you gain so much, but in gaining so much you do give up things to get what you gain. It's much like anything else in life, you give up some things to gain other things. You gain an income with a job, but you do give up some of your free time in order to work. And it's a fair trade. Same with marriage.

I've had people say to me, "well I deserve to be happy, and my spouse no longer makes me happy!" I laugh when I hear that because happiness is a choice, plain and simple. The sad part is that you are so weak in character and so deceived that you are "deciding" to love someone more than the person you are supposed to love most of all, your spouse. And it's all because you "feel" something. It's ridiculous.

When I have counseled couples recovering from an affair I often ask, "Can you see now that if you had invested all the time an energy in your marriage that you were investing in the 'other person' the grass would have been greener in your own yard rather than the neighbors yard?" 

3) Love Yourself

It is impossible to love someone else fully if you do not love yourself. Loving yourself is an important part of loving your spouse. And when I say, "Love Yourself" I am referring to so many things, i.e. loving your body, loving who you are, loving your life, loving your decisions, etc. etc. I have seen people sabotage their relationship all because they hate themselves. And when someone hates themselves that can not accept love from anyone else, and they definitely can't give love.

Shame is a relationship killer. Shame is different than guilt. Guilt is feeling bad for what you have done, shame is feeling bad about who you are. Guilt is, "I did bad and I feel guilty for it." Shame is, "I do bad, therefor I am bad."


Here is the good news about all three of these, God, Love Your Spouse, and Love Yourself ... YOU CAN DO IT! No one is without hope. Anyone can begin doing these things today, right now. Your Marriage can be turned around, YOU can turn it around! Seriously!  It's never too late, in my opinion.

Another Disclaimer: Obviously there are situations that are irreversible, and it's so broken that the only thing you can do is move onward, I get that. I encourage people in those situations to let go of the guilt over the past. Move on! It does no good to roll around in the past should've, could've, would've land! It's over, so what you must do now is make yourself ready for what lies ahead for you.

I am often asked by people who have been divorced, "Can people change?" I assume they are thinking, "maybe if I had stayed longer it could've worked?" It's a mystery really. I believe on one hand that people can change, but the real question is not can they, but will they. And if I am honest, most people can, but won't. They are stuck in the patterns they have grown to love and cherish and they feel safe functioning a certain way, even at the expense of those around them. Make sense?

If you or someone you now needs some Relationship Coaching, please contact my office to set up an appointment, I'd love to help you! (913) 390-1200, or email jana@mercychurchkc.com. Thank you!