I don’t dare come here and write a post that makes things sound like my marriage has been perfect. We’ve had our ups and downs, and admittedly most of the downs have had me at their center. What I can say about our marriage is that every great moment has had four characteristics working in tandem.
Four Core Characteristics of a Successful Marriage
- Responsibility: When I look back at our 20+ years of marriage, I realize that the best times relationally come when we’re doing our best to take responsibility for our words, actions, and mistakes. That doesn’t mean we try to make ourselves into some sort of a martyr. It’s those times when we act like mature adults, admit our faults, and own up to our decisions that allow for complete transparency with one another.
- Repentance: When we do hurt one another—even if unintentionally—it’s vitally important that we repent of what we’ve done. The greatest hurts come when sins are repeated rather than done away with for good. Repentance is so much more than simple sorrow, it’s true remorse and contrition over the harm caused coupled with an intentional effort to change one’s life. Often, this is something that’s impossible on our own. We need a relationship with God and some accountability in our lives to keep us on track.
- Grace: The freedom to fail in marriage is absolutely vital. I don’t mean giving your spouse some sort of unspoken approval to sin, but rather recognizing that they’re human too, so they’re going to mess up. This means they’re going to sin, they’re going to hurt you, and just goof up stuff in general. Much of the grace you offer your spouse gives them the ability to be completely honest with you, as well as the freedom to be themselves rather than put on a mask in order to become the person they think you want them to be.
- Forgiveness: People often forget that forgiveness has two sides. First, we need to forgive our spouse regularly and freely. This isn’t always easy, but it’s the final, necessary component to the restoration and repair of any relationship. Second, we need to learn how to forgive ourselves as well. I don’t mean just blowing off our sins and mistakes as if they’re no big deal, but finding that place in ourselves where we don’t wallow in our regret but instead move forward and work to be the kind of spouse we know we should be.
What you you add to this list? What do you think are the necessary characteristics of a successful marriage? Please share in the comments.
Also published on Medium.
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.
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