A Pastor friend of mine who has performed hundreds of wedding ceremonies, places one condition on the engaged couples before agreeing to marry them. The condition is that they give him the satisfactory answer to one very simple question. In the Pastor’s mind, there was only one correct answer to this question. So what is the recipe for a happy marriage? He would ask them each to answer the question individually, and if at least one of them answered correctly, he would marry them. If both of them gave the wrong answer, he would not marry them without them agreeing to first have several marriage counseling sessions with him
The question he wanted them to answer was this, “Why do you want to marry this other person?”. The knee jerk response to this question by the larger percentage of couples was the same. “Because I love him (or her).” If they gave this answer, the Pastor would not agree to marry them without several counseling sessions.
One day, when my curiosity got the better of me, I asked him why he would not accept this as a valid answer for wanting to get married. After all, they were telling him that they wanted to get married because they loved each other. What could be wrong with that? My Pastor friend answered my question with a question.
“And out of that 50 to 60 percent, how many of them do you think got married because they “loved each other”? He asked.
I thought about it for a few seconds, then replied, “Most of them, I would think.” “Exactly! he replied. That was all he said. I thought about it for a few seconds, and then his point hit me. Loving the other person was not enough to keep 50 percent of all married couples together for life. So what is the recipe for a happy marriage then, I thought. The truth is, that when most young couples said they want to marry the other person, because “they loved each other”, what they really meant was, “I want to marry this other person because they make me happy by fulfilling many of my needs.”
The inherent problem with “falling in love” with somebody because they fulfill your needs, is what happens if or when, for whatever reason, they stop fulfilling your needs. Not surprisingly, when one of the parties in a marriage stops fulfilling the needs of the other, they often look elsewhere to get their “needs” fulfilled.
A marriage based on either party swearing to stay in the relationship “until death do them part” cannot be based on loving the other person because they fulfill some or even all of the other person’s needs. Though the world considers this the norm, not only is in not normal, it doesn’t even begin to qualify as true love, which is why it doesn’t work, and why the divorce rate, even among Christians is greater than fifty percent.
3 Ways To Have A Happy Marriage – Our Recipe For A Happy Marriage
1. What Is True Love?
The first of the three ways to have a happy marriage is to understand what true love actually consists of. For starters, true love is unconditional. It has nothing to do with your needs or the other person’s needs being met, although the main byproduct of true love does result in this. Thus, the first imperative necessity in having a happy and successful marriage means making a conscious decision to desire the well being of the other person above your own. It means being willing to dedicate yourself to doing all that is necessary to nurture, protect, and see to the well being of the other person no matter what the cost to you.
2. Put Your Ego On Hold
The second ingredient in having a happy marriage is like the first. Instead of thinking about what the other person can do to please you and make you happy, you must do just the opposite. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to think about what you can do today to make the other person know that you place their well being above your own. Anybody can say “I love you”. Talk is cheap.
In order to put your money where your mouth is, married couples must put there egos on hold, and always aim at doing what is right for the other person, regardless of what sacrifices are necessary to do it. If you do this, you will not have to say “I love you” to placate your mate, because over time, they will know by your actions that they are loved and cherished. This of course means employing something that most people know little about, which accounts for why the divorce rate is so high. It is a spiritual principle called “selflessness”. The Bible tells us how husbands and wives should treat each other, if they are to have a happy marriage.
“Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. (Colossians 3:18,19) Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:24) For a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because it is his body—and we are its living parts. (Ephesians 5:28-31)
3. What About The Children?
The third element in a happy marriage involves the children. The greatest influence in the development of our children is how their father and mother treat each other. Their observation of the interaction between their parents, will be the greatest influencing factor in determining what kind of adults they will become. Particularly, the actions of the husband and father in the family will determine the long range outcome of who and what their children will become.
A friend of mine, who had gotten married several years before due to wanting to “do the right thing” after having premarital sex with his girlfriend and getting her pregnant, confided in me that he was not happy in his marriage, because he felt as if he was “tricked” into marrying her, and that he believed that she got pregnant on purpose to force him to marry her. By this time, he had two children with her, both under the age of seven. It was apparent to me, that my friend was contemplating leaving his wife.
“Do you love your children?” I asked him. “Of course!” was his reply. “Do you love them enough to die for them?” I asked. “He looked at me as if to say, “What a dumb question.” “In a heartbeat!” was his reply.
“If you had it within your power to give them the greatest gift that you could possibly ever give them in this life, would you?” I asked. “Certainly!” was his reply.
“And if I were to tell you what that gift was, and if I could convince you that it was in fact the greatest gift you could ever give them, would you do it, no matter what the cost?” I asked. “Yes!” he answered, with a hint of impatience. “So what is it?” he asked.
“The greatest gift you could ever give your children is to love their mother!” was my reply. He stared at me in silence for several moments as tears welled up in his eyes, than put his head down, and just stared at the floor. That was fifteen years ago. My friend and his wife are still happily married to this day. My friend turned out to be a wise man. True story.
Copyright © 2012 – V.P. Valentino