Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Hundreds of books have been written on marriage and yet the rate of divorce is as high as it has ever been. No marriage is perfect, but every marriage can get better. Good marriages take time and effort by both partners. What are the basic skills that every marriage needs and every person can learn?
Healthy communication is essential in marriage. But good communication takes time and effort; it is hard, and sometimes very frustrating. We assume too much and listen too little. We often assume the worst case motives for our spouse’s actions. Listening may be more important than talking.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” — James 1:19–20
Become a better listener, and really listen to the other person. Don’t jump to conclusions or allow anger to cloud your thinking. If necessary, take a break, gather yourself and regroup. The best marriages have two people who are willing to take the time to listen.
We already have an example of the kind of grace that you need to show in your marriage. Jesus showed us His grace when He gave himself for us on a cruel Roman cross.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:12–13
Are you willing to humble yourself and admit your sin and ask for forgiveness? Pride drives couples apart, grace brings couples together. Forgiveness is a necessary part of a healthy marriage. Are you willing to show grace and forgive your spouse? Are you willing to give them a break? We are all human and we will all fail at some point.
Again, this is a learned skill; it doesn’t come naturally. That why we are told to “grow in grace.” As we become more and more like Jesus, we show more grace toward those around us.
Relationships take time, and relationships need time together. Both quality and quantity of time is necessary for any relationship to grow. There is no short-cut to growing together - you have to put in the time. When a younger couple is starting a family, they generally stop being together without kids. Find times to be together with the kids. It will make your marriage better.
Spending time together builds trust, better communication, friendship, and a host of other benefits. There are too many hollow marriages out there where two people live at the same address but there is no connection, love or deep commitment to each other. Often times, they are committed to the kids, but not necessarily to each other.
Spending time together is important and necessary to any healthy relationship, but it means you must fight off the tyranny of the urgent. There will always be something else that needs to be done. The relationship with your partner is the heart of your family and a model for your children.
So what area do you need to brush up on?
Time spent growing your relationship with your spouse will never be wasted. I hope this helps you focus on what’s really important in this life. After all, if you had one week to live, who would you want to live it with?