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How To Have An AMAZING Marriage.

I just attended a wedding over Easter that made me reflect a lot about the institution of marriage. I must say the setting was totally amazing. The service was fabulous. I enjoyed every bit of it and I could feel the same for everyone who attended the fete. The couple was just ecstatic about the whole thing.

Then something cropped my mind and asked, where does this ‘fire’ go in majority of homes after the wedding? What makes for a long marriage?

All couples want their marriages to succeed. When two people are getting married, they dream of that “happily ever after” kind of marriage. So many people fail to comprehend why after the joy of a wedding, a couple ends up on the rocks after a few days, months or years while another stays together for five or six decades.

So, what makes for a happy and lasting marriage? I believe that each marriage is unique, but all happy marriages have certain elements in common.  The secret lies squarely on what each of the spouses do to improve their chances of marital success.

The three most common reasons given for divorce are lack of commitment, too much conflict and arguing, and infidelity. Contempt, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and other such negative attitudes are other major reasons that doom a marriage.

Once one gets married they learn how selfish they really are. Nobody wants the love of their life to turn into a mirror revealing their biggest and ugliest flaws. It is one of the paradoxes of marriage that in our most intimate and fulfilling earthly relationship we also encounter the worst version of ourselves.

Many couples enter into marriage with this 50/50 mindset: each spouse giving half, compromising their efforts, responsibilities, and needs so that they meet in the middle. For instance, the husband paying the bills and taking of the house repairs as the wife looks after the kids, handles the dishes and the shopping. Or may be she gets up early with him to make his breakfast before work, and he lets her pick what movie to watch that night.

The 50/50 split appeals to many couples because it seems fair. But the truth is no one ever really gives their half. We may think we are giving our 50%, and our spouse thinks he/she is putting forth the same, but instead we both offer more like 30% and suddenly there’s a gap in our marriage.

We keep a tally of the “selfless” tasks we have done for our spouses but we are blind to the extra miles they have gone for us. We begin demanding that they give their half, convinced that we deserve it. And instead of “meeting halfway” our giving becomes conditional… For example; if he picks up his clothes on the floor like he’s supposed to, then I will treat him with respect. If she comes home on time like she says she will, then I will take her out like she wanted.

Instead of each spouse putting in 50%, each spouse should be putting in 100%.
You should not wait around idly for your spouse to begin picking up their end of the relationship before you pick up yours. This will cause an endless stalemate. And instead of trying to fix the relationship you will end up in a finger pointing competition trying to prove to the other one why they are wrong and what they should do to start fixing the marriage first.

When each spouse view marriage as a 100% investment, they will always do their best to make sure they are listening to each other, that they are being accommodating to their spouse’s needs and that they work on problems when they come up without waiting for their partner to work on them first. They will recognise their contribution to the problem and accept full ownership of it and in so doing do what is expected of them to help their relationship grow.

The problem with understanding marriage as a 50/50 arrangement is that it orients the success of a marriage on equality. Christ did not preach a gospel of equality, but a gospel of humility, surrender, and service, and the relational theatre where these virtues are primarily played out is marriage.

Ephesians 5:22-25 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord… Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
The only way you can make a marriage work is to have both parties give a 100% every time.

The marriage as God created it to be is one in which the wife gives 100% of herself to her husband, and the husband gives 100% of himself to his wife. If the husband will commit to love his wife as Christ loved the church then he makes it much easier for the wife to submit. If the wife will submit, then she makes it much easier for her husband to love her.

The husband and wife will strengthen their relationship by serving each other in the attitude of Christ, who “did not consider equality something to be grasped, but made himself nothing” (Phil. 2:6-7).  No holding back, no conditions, no exceptions.
Christ’s self-giving love provides the model for what marriage should look like. Instead of marriage as a 50/50 compromise, God’s plan for marriage reflects a sacrificial love in which 100/100 is the goal.

Part of giving 100% of yourself is also realising that this requires you to only worry about you and what you are giving to your marriage. You cannot control how much effort your spouse is putting into your relationship, but you can control how much you are putting into it. So, only worry about what you can control – you.

Giving your spouse a 100% of your time isn’t easy, but it only calls for some serious unselfishness on your part. I know that it is easy to become discouraged when you face daily clashes of interest and opinions, but when your spouse sees that you are giving your 100%, they will be more likely to give 100%.

The mystery of the 100-100 principle is that it is in giving that we receive. By giving more of ourselves to something or, in this case, someone, we actually receive more than we give. By giving 100% of ourselves to our spouse and our marriage, we in turn receive 200%.
It is not how much a couple fights, but how they fight and resolve their differences. Lasting marriages aren’t marriages where nobody ever fights, but marriages where couples have agreed to resolve their conflicts in specific ways.

Successful couples learn to intentionally do things that will bring happiness back when life pulls it away. When things get tough and couples don't know what to do, they need to hang in there and be there for their spouse. Time has a way of helping couples work things out by providing opportunities to reduce stress and overcome challenges.

Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth — i.e., someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better. Bad attitudes often drive bad feelings and actions. The only person we can change in our marriage is ourselves.

Finally, real love in marriage is based on a couple's vows of commitment: "For better or for worse" — when it feels good and when it doesn't.

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