Next week, we will be celebrating 17 years of marriage. With so many marriages falling apart around me, I can’t help but wonder why mine is still going strong. The fact is, every couple has challenges. There will be good times, difficult times and those times that will certainly make or break you as a couple. There will be a flicker, moments when the spark you initially felt is very much alive and moments you can’t stand being in the same room. But why do some couples make it and other couples don’t?
If I had to pick just one determining factor that ultimately leads to the success of marriage, it would be commitment. Not the kind of commitment that keeps one faithful but rather a stronger commitment to the relationship and less commitment to self. It’s obvious that people have become very selfish. They want it all. The trick is wanting the relationship to work more than having a hot body or a successful career. It’s purposely choosing the relationship over a hobby or friends or anything else that can drive a wedge in between. Does that mean you shouldn’t go to the gym or take pride in your job? Does it mean you should give up your friends for the sake of your spouse? Of course it doesn’t. It just means that your main priority has got to be your relationship in a time of record divorce and infidelity. The key is putting the majority of time into your spouse and relationship and less time into the passions that drive you apart. When your time and focus is greater on any one thing more than it is your relationship, you can be sure the death of your relationship will soon be near.
I know many couples who get caught up in anniversary gifts. They want the fancy box and the pretty bow. They hold the value of their relationship dependent on whats in the box. For so many years, people will ask, what did he give you for your anniversary. I just smile to myself. The gifts we give each year can’t be put in a box. Every year we give the gift of respect, friendship, support, encouragement and the most important gift of all unconditional love. There is no greater, more satisfying feeling in the world than knowing someone loves you just the way you are, without conditions. There is no greater gift than knowing someone supports your dreams and works along side you to make them come true. There is nothing more special than knowing the person you married is the one who loves and accepts you more than anyone else in the great big world. Love says it’s okay when you make a mistake instead of listing the ways you create your own problems. Love listens and understands when everyone else tries to give advice. Love is there in the hard times and smiling along side you in the good times. Love is a gift that keeps on giving even when the relationship seems hopeless and lost. Love does not criticize, it emphathizes. Love does not blame, it searches for solution. Love does not resent, it always forgives regardless how big the offense.
What do you think leads to a lasting relationship? What is most important to you?