Updated: Dec 12, 2018
There are so many things that may immediately come to mind when you think of what is required to make a relationship grow and stay strong. So, what are they? Well, there is patience, kindness, happiness, fun, encouragement, truth, and loyalty, just to name a few. I would imagine you have many more that you could add to my relatively short list.
But what is the most important of these? What is the most important of all? What’s the #1 marriage win that couples can practice increasing the quality of their relationship?
It’s love, right? If you have a lot of love for your spouse and demonstrate that love, then you’re going to have a marriage that wins. Or wait, could it be forgiveness? Yes! After all, you can’t have a marriage that moves from one day into the next without this important element at work. Forgiveness keeps us embracing one another despite our differences. No, that’s not it. Okay, it finally hit me. I’ve got it. The #1 marriage win has got to be faithfulness. The willingness to stick by someone no matter what. Faithfulness means that you are not just committed but you prove that faithfulness throughout the difficulties of life and marriage.
These are all great and, of course, they are essential requirements for relationships to flourish. However, I have met many couples that love each other, but they are combative and constantly teeter on divorce. I have also met couples who have chosen to overlook failures by applying forgiveness but they lack the kindness to keep them from offending one another again and again. I have even met couples who are filled with faithfulness for one another but the romance continues to disappear with every passing year. So, if these things don’t “seal the deal” on a marriage made in heaven, then what does? Well, there isn’t just one thing that’s the magic bullet, but I must say there seems to be an ongoing theme that I see in marriages that succeed and marriages that are failing. What is it?
In my opinion, the #1 Marriage win is time. Love is pounding nearby within the next heartbeat, forgiveness will erase the wrongs from the past, and faithfulness is a fiber that upholds and supports. But one thing that can never be fixed, taken back, or have something new applied to, it is time. Time is the greatest win in marriage because once it’s gone, it’s gone. Here’s what I mean.
Couples who make their marriage the greatest priority in their lives, next to God himself, will know that the natural thing to do is to invest large amounts of time in one another. They fall more in love, work through frustration, and stick close by each and the expression of those qualities comes out in literally just spending quality time with each other. Time is like cement. You can put whatever you want into it and when it sets up over time, that is what remains. It hardens. You’ve seen little kid’s hands and people’s names drawn into cement. Once there, it remains for as long as that cement slab is in existence. That is the same with time. Today and even tomorrow I can choose to be kinder, more loving, and even more faithful but I can never reach back into time and reverse how I squandered it on things that didn’t matter. In the same way, when my wife and I spend quality time together our experiences, feelings, and joy are locked into a cement called love that no one can ever steal away. It will always be there in the corridors of our hearts and minds for us to go back and enjoy. Cement is a great foundation that is solid enough upon which to build a place to live. In the same way, time is a foundation that can never be torn down or destroyed. Once shared together in loving experience it will remain forever.
A few years back, we were busy parents with small children. We were running hard and running out of steam. Our ten-year anniversary was approaching, and it seemed like it would make more sense to do something small that would keep us close to the kids and spending less money. We talked it over and over. Finally, thanks to God’s grace, we made the important decision to go to Florida by ourselves for over a week. We had the most amazing time. We laughed, we cried, we danced, and we shared so many new experiences together, without our kids, as a couple in love. The trip couldn’t have been more perfect! What’s even more special is the ripple effect that time together had on our marriage, tremors of love that we can still feel to this day. It ignited a new passion for one another and helped solidify our identity even more outside of our relationship with our kids. We needed it, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
That is why now, whenever my wife and I start getting frustrated with each other, feeling on edge or sense a growing distance between us, almost always, the answer to our problem isn’t just to stop being too on edge or more thoughtful. It almost always means we haven’t been spending enough quality time together.
I believe the Bible speaks to marriages as well when it says in Psalms 90:10, 12, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away…..Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Here are a few ways Dawn and I use the precious little time, about eighty years, we have while alive on this earth to invest in one another and our marriage:
Shared new experiences with each other. Trying something new that we have never tried before. When we do this we often discover something new about each other.
Practicing spiritual disciplines together. Praying, fasting and worshiping God as a couple has produced a deeper intimacy in our marriage along with bringing in authenticity.
Working out and exercising. Taking the time to partner with each other in our physical health and wellbeing has deepened our bond but also kept up our level of attraction and vitality. Because we invest the time in working out consistently together we are left with lots of energy for other adventures and fun. The couple that sweats together stays together!!
A weekly date night. Giving our marriage its own sabbatical and telling the rest of the world it’s not allowed to interrupt has allowed our love to marinate in time.
Ongoing affection and holding each other. There are physical hormones that can only be released when we have skin to skin contact. These hormones released over time spent with each other creates an even greater sense of connectedness and love.
Okay, so if you feel like your marriage has suffered from being second to a million other things, then its time to make a change. It’s time to reprioritize and start investing in what really matters, your spouse. God wants you to have a great marriage, your kids need you to have a great marriage, and the world learns about who Jesus is through your ongoing demonstration of love and commitment over time. If there is a #1 win for marriages, it’s definitely the time you take with one another!
We are always ready to fight for marriages through our Loving The Fight Marriage seminars. Feel free to let us know if you would like us to come to your church or community. As marriage speakers we love sharing the marriage wisdom we have discovered with other couples to encourage them to put their marriages first! Lovingthefight.com