Building a Healthy Marriage


y all outward appearances Sharon and John were the perfect couple. Their parents and friends said theirs was a match made in heaven and if any couple would make it, they would.

Ten years and three children later their marriage ended in divorce. Sad to say, their story is not unusual. At least in the western world marriages continue to crumble at an alarming rate. While we have made profound advances in the technical and scientific world, we have made little progress in the relational world—the success of the latter being the glue that holds families and nations together.

The causes of marriage breakdown are usually complex and multiple. The following steps can help you avoid this heartache.

First, work at growing in love rather than falling in love. When one country and western singer reported his symptoms to the doctor: "My hands are sweaty and my knees are weak, I can’t eat and I can’t sleep," the doctor replied, "Sounds like love’s got a hold on you!" This kind of romantic attraction often based on physical attraction can be very exhilarating and can lead to love, but it isn’t love and it doesn’t last. We call it falling in love. The trouble with this kind of love is that it is just as easy to fall out of it.

Keeping romance alive in a marriage is very important as is keeping true love alive, but these don't happen by chance. They take considerable effort and need to be made a high priority.

Work at growing in love
rather than falling in love.

It is amazing, too, how many of us are romantically attracted, albeit unconsciously, to someone just like our mother or father—especially the one whom we felt never loved us. There is an unconscious drive deep within us that draws us to this person because we are still seeking to get the love we never found as a child. Too late we discover when the honeymoon is over that we have married our "mother" or "father." Instead of getting the love we never received, we have more of what we didn’t get as a child. This can be very disillusioning but if both spouses are willing to see what they have done and resolve their "mother" and/or "father wound," they can overcome this major reason of marriage failure.

Second, own your own problems.The reality is there are no innocent parties in any marriage conflict. Each person is contributing something. Only as each admits, owns, and takes responsibility for his or her reactions and especially, over-reactions, can a healthy relationship be sustained. If I blame anyone else for my over-reactions I will blame!

Third, resolve past issues. We may be able to hide our problems before we are married, but once the knot is tied, sooner or later they surface. For example, if a husband had a negative relationship with his mother, or a wife had a poor relationship with her father (or either parent for that matter), neither one will be prepared for a healthy relationship with their spouse.

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