Wedding rings

My little brother just got married this weekend.  Being part of such a happy and special event is wonderful. And it got me thinking about what goes into a successful marriage.

Getting married is no longer the fore-gone conclusion it usually was in the past. But a majority of us still do get married. Whether marriage is a good thing or a not-so-good thing is another matter entirely. And how you feel about it depends a great deal on your life experience.

Ask a thirty-something single person, and you may well hear moans and groans about the lack of any suitable marriage partners anywhere on the horizon. Parents and others may be asking, “When are you going to settle down and get married?” The desire for love, companionship, commitment, physical intimacy, and perhaps children is real. If in doubt, just look at the many match-making websites and services available.

But then ask the person who has experienced domestic violence, a heart-breaking divorce, or a chronically unhappy marriage full of conflict. They will tell you you’re much better off alone.

A bad marriage is certainly worse than not being married at all. But how do you know? Is marriage worth the risk? What can you do in advance to make marriage more successful?

I wholeheartedly believe in marriage – the union of a man and a woman before God. But it is not a step for the faint-hearted. There is no guarantee of happiness or success. Choosing a marriage partner is much too important a step to be left to feelings only. Love for each other is definitely necessary, but it is not enough by itself.

Before Al and I got married I heard two wise pieces of advice that stuck with me. And I believe they can make a difference for anyone who is getting married:

Study your mate.

Learn what makes them tick, where they are vulnerable to being hurt, and how to make them happy. And keep on studying them in the months and years to come. If you spend more time and energy focused on them, it will pay off richly in the future.

Stay on your knees.

Pray for your spouse, for your own heart, and for your union together. Prayer together is one of the most intimate and bonding things a couple can do. And it keeps God at the center of your marriage: that’s where He needs to be for your marriage to be successful.

A good marriage takes work, but it is so worth it. There is nothing more rewarding in this life than to experience God’s blessing on you and your spouse as you give yourselves to each other today, and forever.

Nathaniel, I pray you and your bride Emily many happy years. May God bless your union!

Your Turn: If you’re single, do you have a checklist for your Mr or Mrs Right? If you’re married, how did you know this is the ONE? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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