I have an advanced degree in counseling and hundreds of hours of experience working with couples. I’ve taught marriage retreats for years. I wouldn’t say I’m an “expert” in marriage — because I’m married — and my wife reads my blog. That would be a stretch. Actually, I know more to do than I have the practice of doing. (Isn’t that true for most of us?)
But I’ve learned a few things. I’ve observed things that work and things that don’t.
I think there are some necessary ingredients for a healthy marriage. That’s the point of this post.
Want a healthier marriage?
Consider these 7 Commandments of Healthy Marriage:
1. Thou shalt serve one another.
A good marriage practices mutual submission. Ephesians 5:21 commands us to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It’s a 100/100 deal — each willing to surrender all to the other person.
How are you at serving your spouse? Would they say you strive to serve them more [every day]? Are you more the giver or the taker in the relationship? Be honest.
2. Thou shalt love unconditionally.
Unconditionally means without conditions. (See how deep this blog can be.) I’ll love you if… is not the command. It’s I’ll love you even if not. God commands us to love our enemies. How much more should this commitment be strong within a marriage?
Are you loving your spouse even with the flaws that you can see better than anyone else? Here’s a quick test: Does the way you communicate with your spouse indicate you have the highest regard for them — always?
3. Thou shalt respect one another.
The Golden Rule covers this one. Everyone wants to be respected — so in any good marriage respect is granted to and by both parties. And, by the way, I believe respect too is to be unconditional.
In my experience, this one is sometimes easier for one spouse to give than the other, especially the one who works hardest in the marriage. Respect is mostly given because of actions. But respect is important for both spouses. Most people grant respect only when all conditions are met to be respected. That makes sense, but it doesn’t provide motivation to improve when the other party needs it most. All of us need someone who believes in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves. That’s the grace of respect. When most of us feel respected we will work harder to keep that respect.
4. Thou shalt put no other earthly relationships before this one.
“Let not man put asunder” is not just a good King James Version wedding line. It’s God’s desire for a marriage. Great couples strive to allow no one — even children — even in-laws — to get in the way of building a healthy marriage.