Years ago, Mark and I were having a pretty serious argument. We were both very frustrated. I could tell Mark was getting discouraged as he realized that we were not going to resolve things quickly. So I said, “You know what, honey, we’re in this marriage for life and we will work this out, even if it takes a while.”
Taking the long view is one of the truths about marriage. That’s why in our new books, Lists to Love By for Busy Wives and Lists to Love By for Busy Husbands, the first chapter addresses these 7 truths. It’s a foundational chapter that paves the way for the other lists, all of which help you love well. But even on their own, these 7 truths about marriage can help you have the perspective you need to steady and strengthen your relationship. And a strong relationship is key to making a marriage last.
1. Marriage is not a quick sprint; it’s a lifelong marathon.
When you’re trying to break bad habits and form good ones, it can take a while. So stay focused on improvements, even if they come mixed with slip-ups.
2. Marriage is not a 50/50 partnership; it’s a 100%-100%, give-it-all-you’ve-got relationship.
There was a year my doctor decided I should go without a pacemaker. I was in bed sometimes until noon because my heart rate was dropping all the time. That was an 80 – 20 year; Mark gave 80 percent and I could only give 20, but we were both committed to giving 100 percent of what we had available to give.
3. Marriage is not always a stroll in the park; it’s hard work.
I like how Mark explains this truth, “Marriage is not only hard work, it’s heart work. It’s not our physical strength that matters; it’s working on our attitudes of the heart — our beliefs about marriage and our spouse.”
I agree. We have to be willing to invest in our marriage and do the hard work — attend a marriage conference, read a marriage book, whatever it takes.
4. Marriage is not just about two people; it’s about two people becoming one flesh.
Marriage is about doing what’s best for the other person no matter what it costs me. It’s a holy union between God, a husband, and a wife. We become one physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It doesn’t mean we lose our independence, but we do what is best for the other person.
5. Marriage is not just “for better;” it’s also “for worse.”
When I got married I thought the hard part was finding the right spouse, not the marriage. There are going to be times when it is worse. I can promise you that. Something is going to happen to cause you to struggle in your marriage. Our books build up a couple’s love for each other so they can handle the “for worse.”
6. Marriage is not just about happiness; it’s about holiness.
Financial reasons used to be the main cause for marriage trouble, now the number one reason people get a divorce is incompatibility. “I’m not happy. I’m not happy with you!” The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Well, your closest neighbor is your husband. Loving well is all about learning to love him well — that’s holiness.
7. Marriage is not about getting from your spouse; it’s about giving to your spouse.
This is the hardest thing to do and points back to all of the truths we’ve talked about. Giving is so refining and that’s why God planned it this way, it’s refining when you have to put somebody else first. You’re no longer thinking of yourself, you have to think in terms of we — it’s sacrificial. And then you have kids and it’s a bigger we and more refining! This is how God calls us more deeply into being like him.
Knowing these truths will set you free in your marriage — free to admit when you’re struggling; free to lean on each other; and free to grow stronger together.
Listen to more discussion about discipline in the full podcast below.