5 Secrets to a Successful Marriage

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Let me first add a disclaimer: First, I am no marriage therapist. I have no formal training, so you may take what I say with a grain of salt. These are merely my opinions and experiences, shared through words. Second, my experiences are based on faith in God. If you are an unbeliever or not a follower, read this with your own discretion.

Superman and I are coming up on our 15th anniversary. As cliche as it may sound, I love him even more now than I did when we first got married. The beginning was rough (you can read more about that HERE), but I can honestly say our marriage has been like granite since then. I’m not saying that to brag; it is only by hard work and God’s grace that we continue to remain best friends. Even then, I can’t force marital advice. I can share what has worked for Superman and I, but I can’t be so arrogant to assume that just because something works for us means it will work for everyone. I can say, however, that none of these things I am writing would hurt a marriage. It could only help a relationship.

1. Make your spouse 2nd…only to God

There’s a balance here. Some people push their spouse down the priority pole. Maybe work or school precede your spouse’s needs or maybe it’s your friends. More commonly, maybe it’s your children. Of course, our children are hugely important and should be a priority; just not THE priority, if you are married. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our children. Activities, sports, birthday parties, homework, discipline…it all takes over. We have to consciously make sure our spouse realizes he or she is important, too. One day, those kids will be grown, and who will you be left with? Take a look next to you. Will you be best friends ready to experience life together as empty nesters? Or will you look at each other with blank stares, wondering who in the heck this is you’re married to?

On the flip side, you shouldn’t worship your spouse either. Worship God first, and you will naturally be inclined to make your spouse a priority. Not saying that will happen all by itself, but it sure will help.

2. Give up trying to be “right”

When Superman and I were first married, I was all about being rightI didn’t care whether I knew he was actually right, I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I have no idea why I did that. Well, actually, I have a pretty good idea why. I did not want to be taken advantage of. Oh, and I had a boatload of pride. I thought if I was wrong, I was somehow inferior, and that I would be seen as a failure. Guess what? It wasn’t true. Chalk it up to one of Satan’s {successful, I may add} lies. I fully believed if and when I was “proven” wrong, I was just that much more of a failure.

So, you’re getting into an argument. Stop and look at yourself. I don’t mean literally here. Don’t go find a mirror. Although, that may not be a bad idea…seeing yourself during an argument may make you think twice about how you react. What I really meant was, take a look at what your angle is. Are you going into this with the goal that you will win? Do you honestly want to find the truth? Is the argument about something trivial that in the end really doesn’t matter (think toilet lids or laundry hampers)? If you have a manipulative angle, you need to stop yourself. Think about whether the argument is actually important, and then decide how you can procede respectfully, calmly, and with open ears, not a closed heart.

3. Make grace and forgiveness a welcome part of your day

Superman is as close to a perfect partner as possible. But even he has imperfections. He does things that annoy me sometimes (as I’m sure I do to him). He makes mistakes and fails sometimes. So do I. I am no perfect person. If you were picking one of these points to focus on, I think it should be this one: make grace and forgiveness a welcome part of your day. The reason I said, “a welcome part of your day” is because doing this begrudgingly won’t work. We have to be not only content but happy to practice grace and forgiveness.

Just think about those times in your life when someone extended you grace when you really didn’t deserve it. Didn’t it make you want to be a better person? Now, I’m definitely not saying if you have an abusive spouse, to just “forgive and forget” and allow the other person to continually hurt or berate you. There is also a responsibility to set boundaries for yourself and your children.

However, I love this Bible verse in 1 Peter 3:1-2, specifically for women: “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty.” (The Message, emphasis added) There is something beautiful and desirable about a woman who loves God and whose actions are kind, gentle and welcoming. A woman who is antagonistic, looks for an argument and continually keeps notes of past wrongs is anything but beautiful in the eyes of her mate. A woman who extends forgiveness and grace to {especially an undeservingspouse is much more likely to have that same grace and forgiveness extended to her, and will often inspire her husband to be a better man. Again, I am not claiming that this will have 100% success and will automatically make your marriage perfect, but it will often help in ways beyond belief.

4. Pray together

You’ve heard the old saying, “Couples who pray together, stay together.” It’s very difficult to stay angry at someone if you are praying with and for them. Imagine what your spouse would say if after an argument, when tempers are still bubbling, you approached him or her and said, “I’m sorry, honey. Can we pray together?” Wouldn’t that change the whole feeling in the room? Not only that, wouldn’t that change your heart a bit? Try it–it really is hard to look at someone after praying with them and still be as angry with them as you were before the prayer.

Not sure how to pray together? Feel awkward? As hard as it may be to believe, it was uncomfortable for me to pray with Superman initially. I think mostly because I hadn’t ever seen a healthy marital relationship that incorporated prayer together regularly. I’m sure many of you are in that same boat. But, you have to start somewhere. Try it today. Before bed tonight, offer to pray with your spouse. Don’t make him or her pray, just offer to pray and ask if they would like to, too. If he or she doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t force it. Just be an example of someone willing to go out on a limb for the betterment of your relationship, and eventually you will both be praying with each other, experiencing the closeness that can only come from joining together in prayer.

5. Spend time together

This may seem obvious, but it often gets put on the back burner. It goes hand in hand with keeping your spouse as a priority. You must. Spend time. Together. This is probably the biggest weakness of Superman and I. We have lots of kids, and getting a babysitter regularly is a huge financial strain. We have family close by, but we don’t like to overuse their time. It’s tiring to watch 5 young children! And there are other grandchildren in the family that we need to think of. So Superman and I tend not to ask unless we have something specific we are attending. It’s an area I would like to work on for sure. In an ideal world, we would go out together every Friday night. But, that time will come at some point when our children are older.

Even if you don’t have babysitting as an option, you can still figure out ways to spend together. Sometimes, when we know we need time to connect just breathing, talking and enjoying one another’s company, we will have the kids go to their rooms, and we’ll just chill on the couch, talking to each other about our days, discussing things that we haven’t had time to discuss, and to just hang out. Sometimes on a weekend morning, I will make a pot of coffee, and we will tell the kids to watch a show while we just sit in bed with our coffee and chat. The kids know this time is important to us, and that interrupting us for anything other than an emergency isn’t acceptable. Of course, it helps that they’re a little older now, and our youngest is four. But regardless of your kids’ ages, there is usually a way to get more time in with your spouse. Maybe on the weekend, you make a trip to the park so the kids can play while you talk with each other. Maybe you reserve one night a week when the kids eat early, and  you and your spouse eat alone at the dining room table for dinner. Or maybe you can find someone to watch your kids so you can go out, even if it’s just once a month. Whatever it may be, there is usually a way. Of course, if your spouse is in the military or is gone for long periods of time, you will have to figure out something that works for you, and it will probably take a lot more work.

Just do your best.

You’re never going to be perfect. But actively striving to better your marriage will reap benefits for generations to come. Those little eyes (if you have children) are watching you, looking to see how they will react with their future spouses. Help create a legacy of grace, forgiveness and love in your relationship that will be so contagious, it will spread through your descendants for years and years. And most of all, just be willing. Having a willing heart goes a long way, even in a hurting marriage.

For more marital advice and help, check out Focus on the Family for many great resources.




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  1. Sarah Stanley says

    Wow. I needed to hear this. I can be so critical of my husband, and I always end up feeling terrible afterwards. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!

  2. Cherie says

    I completely agree about having grace and forgiveness. I know that I can be so quick to judge, and I would be so hurt if my husband did the same to me. Thank you for the great reminder.

  3. Amber L. says

    I struggle with the praying thing. I’m actually not sure why since I grew up in a Christian home, but it’s hard for me. The only time we pray is before dinner, and even then, it’s just a rote prayer. This is something I really want to work on. Do you have tips on how to start?

    • radlandon says

      Hi, Amber! I think the best way to start is to do just that; start! Even if it’s just a quick, simple prayer. Maybe as you are going to bed, you could say, “Do you mind if I pray before we go to bed?” Unless your hubby is anti-prayer, I would imagine he would be happy to let you do that. When you pray, start with something you’re thankful for (maybe your husband, since he’ll be right there with you!), then pray for someone else (maybe in your family), then ask God for something you are needing help with. The vulnerability to be able to share those things in front of your spouse will help grow a bond that is like none other! Let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Amber L. says

        Thank you! My hubby is definitely open to prayer. We are Christian, but for some reason, both of us have always been awkward with this. I will try your tips! Thanks again!

  4. Mickey says

    Congratulations on 15 years! I think it’s evident that you practice grace. Your posts are always so kind and gentle, and you always seem to be concerned about the “other person.” My hubby and i also have a hard time carving out time for each other, with his job, life and the kids it seems impossible. I like your idea about coffee in bed on the weekend! Sounds divine!

  5. mommyof4 says

    This is my first time commenting. I just had to comment, being that I feel like you wrote this directly to me. I have failed miserably at forgiveness. I harbor resentment and guilt for things my husband has done, and I have known for a long time I need to let it go. I just can’t seem to do it. How do I forgive someone who has hurt me so bad? I know if I were to extend an olive branch to my husband, he would be so happy, but holding on to the bitterness is just what I know now. =(

    • radlandon says

      Mommyof4, I’m so sorry for the pain you have experienced. =( A lot of times, we get comfortable with our resentment, and it grows to be a part of us. It’s like a wound that was not tended to correctly and then gets an infected scab on top of it. Sometimes we need to scrape that scab off and then re-treat the wound with proper care to allow it to heal right. Has your husband expressed remorse and asked forgiveness for his actions? If so, then the ball is in your court.It is up to you how you want to respond, as difficult as it may be. I completely understand having a desire to stay with the status quo, as that has most likely become “normal.” I say if you have a partner filled with regret, offer him grace. See how he responds if you ask him if you can pray together. Let him know this is something you are struggling with and that you need help letting it go. Instead of it being your burden to bare on your own, let God carry the burden, and allow your husband (if he is willing) to come alongside you in your healing. I hope that helps!

      • mommyof4 says

        Thank you. I’m sitting here crying right now because what you are saying is speaking complete truth to me. I am going to attempt to talk to my husband tonight. I will let you know how it goes.

  6. Darla says

    I can totally relate and agree with all that you said in your post. Have you , by any chance, attended a FamilyLife “Weekend to Remember” Marriage Conference? All of those points are shared at one! If you haven’t and it was through “trial & erroer”, then you have “learned” well.

    And have a happy anniversary!

    • radlandon says

      Funny! No, we have never attended one. I guess it’s good, then I feel like I’m not way off base! lol Thanks for the comment!

  7. Debbi says

    What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing it! I My husband and I are coming up on our 20th anniversary and I share much the same feelings that you shared here. He is my superman as well. I am so blessed to be married to my best friend and to make things sweeter we have been blessed with 7 terrific kiddos. A great marriage does not just happen, it takes a lot of work and dedication and a lot of handing things over to the Lord. But the effort is worth it – a good marriage is a taste of heaven on earth!

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