What couple doesn’t want a wonderful marriage? Most people would say, “Absolutely, sign me up!” But it takes more than wanting something to actually having it. And that’s true with having a wonderful marriage. As authors, Lilo and Gerard Leeds, who wrote the book, Wonderful Marriage say, “You don’t HAVE a great marriage, you BUILD one —brick by brick, and skill by skill.”
So, to help you to build that wonderful marriage, we will share with you a few of the “bricks” —the marriage tips that Lilo and Gerard have learned in their 62+ years of marriage. And here is an additional challenge for you. As you read what they have written, think of the biblical principles and scriptures that apply to each tip given. There are plenty of them! Here are a few (edited) quotes from the book.
Tips to Build a Wonderful Marriage:
To have a great relationship, you have to start with yourself.
Do this ideally BEFORE you get married. But it is never too late for improvement. Your life, and all your relationships, will change as you develop the traits that define a person of good character. As our son Greg pointed out, “It is not enough to marry the right partner, you need to work to be the right partner.”
Focus on what you both have in common, not on what divides you.
Focus on what you admire in each other, not what you might want to criticize. Notice what you like about your partner, and let your partner know. Encourage each other to become the kind of people you both respect and admire. Bring out the best in each other.
Go out of your way to notice the small things you each do to help and support one another.
And express your thanks. Show your gratitude for even the small gestures; it’s another way of expressing your love. If you both show your appreciation and gratitude for the small acts of kindness, you will find yourselves falling in love over and over again. Happy couples say it is important not only to show your kindness to the world, but also to each other.
Be generous with your hugs and kisses and touches.
Don’t let your loving ways change once you are married.
Initiate new rituals that belong to just the two of you.
Light a candle at dinner, and call each other private nicknames. Make a cup of coffee and read aloud to each other from your favorite novel or collection of poetry. Have breakfast in bed and agree not to talk about chores, conflicts, or problems of any sort for those two hours. Shared rituals connect you and bring you closer.
Happy couples say they never want to make their partner feel insecure about their love. They never behave in any way to give their loved one reason to doubt their loyalty. If you can’t trust each other to remain faithful, it is very difficult to trust each other about anything else. Being faithful is an attitude as much as an action. Staying faithful is a way of saying, “I love you, and I have made a commitment that I’m going to stick with. I will stay away from any temptation that might come my way.”
It is not enough to be faithful. You have to make sure not to give the appearance that you are anything but faithful. That means you never act like you’re interested in anyone else romantically. And you don’t do anything in public or private that you wouldn’t want your partner to see or know about.
Use humor lovingly.
If you look at the world and your relationship with an eye to the humor that can be found in even difficult situations, you will find it cuts the tension and promotes warm, loving feelings between you. Sharing laughter is a sign that you trust each other enough to let down your guard. Laughter is, indeed, one of the best love medicines for a great marriage.
Be flexible about each other’s habits and temperament.
Everyone has some quirks. One person is bound to be neater than the other or more punctual. One of you may need different amounts of sleep. You may have different priorities about how to spend your free time. Look upon these differences as interesting discoveries. Remove irritants.
Small habits can be changed, especially if both of you remember your aim is to make the other happy. Those habits that cannot be changed can often be worked around. Using separate tubes of toothpaste is far easier than fighting about the caps. Many disagreements are easily solved with the right attitude.
Don’t do the things that drive your partner crazy.
You know what this means. As you get to know each other better, you learn what your partner likes and dislikes, what the “hot buttons” are. All of us have some issues that may or may not be rational, but that drive us up the wall. It may be something your partner says, or the way she acts in a particular situation. Perhaps you know that being late makes your partner see red, or drinking juice straight from the container drives your mate crazy. Don’t push those buttons. [You can read more about this in the article, written by Gary Sinclair, When Those You Love Push Your Buttons, and also an article written by Dr David Hawkins in the article, “Where There’s a Spark, There’s Fire.”]
The more you can play together, the closer you will feel.
Having fun together is like an insurance policy in a marriage. It shores up those good feelings you have toward each other to help you get through the hard times.
Keep things in perspective.
While it’s very important to accommodate both of your parents and relatives as much as possible, in the end, your life as a couple comes first. Patterns of interaction that may have been fine when you were single may not be ideal now that you’re a couple. Be generous with your time, but also set limits to protect your relationship.
Communicating clearly and honestly involves skills that you need to learn and practice. It also requires that you pay attention just as much to what you say with your body as with your words. Body language, facial expressions, and, most important, our attitudes contribute as much to communicating our thoughts and feelings as the sentences we speak.
Resolve anger quickly.
When two mature individuals feel deeply about each other and about issues —there are bound to be differences and disagreements. The solution is not to avoid conflict. It is to resolve it as quickly and calmly as possible. Couples who avoid arguments are more likely to get divorced than couples who are able to confront their differences and resolve them peacefully.
Instead, view anger as a useful warning sign. It’s not that there is trouble in the relationship, but that there is a rough patch that needs attention. It is a sign that somebody’s needs aren’t being met, that we are feeling hurt, or that something is not right. A great marriage provides a safe place for both partners to express and resolve their differences and anger.
Sustaining a relationship is a product of careful thought, a generous spirit, and hard work.
A Great Resource
We pray the above tips are helpful. Again, they come from the book, Wonderful Marriage: A Guide to Building a Great Relationship That Will Last a Lifetime, by Lilo and Gerard Leeds, published by Benbella Books. Although this is not a Christian book, it is filled with very helpful material and we would recommend it. We only found two quotes we objected to in the whole book, but the rest of it lines up fine scripturally. It truly can help you to build a wonderful marriage.
As with ANY resource (including ours), other than the Bible, it’s important to prayerfully read with an objective eye. If it lines up with God’s Biblical principles and the Lord shows you that the advice will be helpful for your marriage, use it. If not, don’t. Not all advice given by humans is good for you to use. Ask God for wisdom and discernment and the Lord will bless.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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6 responses to “Build a Wonderful Marriage – MM #355”
(NIGERIA) How will I know the right partner for my life? I want to settle down but I am still in confusion.
(USA) I have been married for 3 years and during this period, I have been feeling like I added more responsibilities to myself and not help. As such, I have been avoiding getting a baby. I am a first born of 3 children. We were abandoned by our mother who sunk into drugs and I had to work hard and take care of my other two siblings. My idea of a spouse was someone who would help me with the responsibilities apart from us loving and respecting each other – which I communicated to my husband before we got married and he promised to help.
During these three years of marriage, I have helped him provide, taken care of the house chores, gone to work so we can at least live comfortable and also continued assisting my siblings who one is in rehab. I feel overburdened by this and having to repeat or remind my husband of simple things like putting his dirty cloths in the laundry basket among other things. He prefers watching TV rather than helping me. Due to all these responsibilities, I have been avoiding getting pregnant because this will add to the many responsibilities I already have.
Is marriage about responsibilities only? What is the role of a man? Do all women go through this? Is it wrong to expect help in house hold chores now that I am helping him provide? I am asking you all these questions because all I got from the women in my church group is condemnation. I just want to enjoy my marriage.
(ZIMBABWE) Reply to Renee: Don’t despair God wants you to have a happy marriage. The solution lies within you. What you need to do is to continue praying. Talk to him calmly. Be nice, surprise him one night, dinner, candles… you know the works. Talk to him during that time. Even if he annoys you, keep your calm. Trust me, he will be embarrassed and you being nice, will make him soft. It will work out. Keep on praying
(ZIMBABWE) Marriage is something big. I am doing a degree in social sciences and I would really love to hear about the challenges that people are facing in marrige or even during courting. I would also like to hear about how they relate to each other and even with members of the extended family, how their family history has affected their characters and how it has definend them because it determines how you will relate to your partner. It’s really broad but I would appreciate your contributions. Thank you.
(KENYA) Thanks for the notes. I have a problem with that point of being faithful in marriage. My husband has been unfaithful for the last many years. We’ve been married for close to 8 yrs now and are blessed with two lovely children. I have confronted him many times talked about it many times but it seems he is not ready to change. I love him and divorce is not the option because of my babies. I want them to grow with both parents present. I have chosen to avoid being intimate because of the many sexual infections we have around, have explained that to him he’s not for it but I think that is the best option for now until he decides to put effort in this relationship. I try as much as possible to be a good wife and mother to our children, nothing has changed for the years that we’ve stayed together’ other people do admire our relationship not knowing what we are going through because I don’t believe in sharing my marital problems with anyone but I am very prayerful and trust that God will do something soon. Please help me in prayers and advise me whether that is the right option concerning my problem. Will appreciate your response.
What do I do when my husband is having an affair?