A client asked me, “What are the characteristics of a healthy marriage?” The truth is that most people are trying to do something (marriage) that they were never taught how to do or what it is supposed to look like when it is right. I came up with these key characteristics of a healthy marriage.
You may have heard the saying “Love is not enough to make a marriage work.” On the contrary, Love is enough. The problem is that most people do not understand what Love is and what all it encompasses. The truth is that everything else on this list are the offspring of Love. Love is the driving force behind every other characteristic. Love is the ACTION expressed towards the one you are loving for their benefit, not yours.
You cannot have healthy human relationships without forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is instant and sometimes it is a process. However it happens, it needs to be something that is common in your marriage.
We communicate primarily through language. The better you are at expressing yourself the better you are understood. There are many hinderances to effective communication and when you discover them I urge you to be diligent about addressing them. Being able to say how you feel in a way that does not insult (even though it may not make them feel good in the moment) is important for good communication. Being able to listen, validate and dialogue without judgment or criticism is also important.
We humans are experts at trying to control things, especially other people. If your spouse were just like you then one of you would be unnecessary. You want to accept your spouse as they are. Accepting them does not mean condoning whatever bad behavior they may have. To accept them means to understand that they have flaws like you, they were created in God’s image not yours, and whatever growth they are to do is up to them, not you. You can influence them but you cannot change them. Learn to accept the differences and pray about the wrongs.
There should be some expression of affection between you on a regular basis. Sometimes it is physical and sometimes it is verbal. You may cuddle on the couch or you may send a random text saying “I miss you.” You both should be about the business of finding out what makes your spouse light up and become very good at doing that.
You must always work on strengthening your friendship. Your friendship is where your “like” for each other dwells. How do we treat good friends? With respect, without judgement, and with consideration. Have fun together. Find things that you like to do together. You may think that you are so different that you have nothing in common, but at minimum you guys live on the same planet…you can find something to bond around.
This may not be one that you would think would be on the list, but the truth is that research says that the divorce rate between couples who pray together is only 0.001%. Marriage is God’s idea. It was always meant to be between a husband, a wife and God. It is the first institution God created. When you have a spiritual connection with each other it can run deeper than even your emotional connection.
Always show respect and honor to your mate. Never see them as less than you. Do not talk down to them and do not allow anyone else to do so. When you have a spouse you are no longer in the world with a mindset of “what is best for me,” but rather “what is best for us.”
This is not an exhaustive list, however if you can do these things well then I am sure you will be well on your way to a healthy marriage. If you would like help getting to a healthier marriage just email us on the contact form.