Key Ingredients to a Successful Marriage

Marriage is hard work. It is challenging. It is all about compromise and making an effort to live with another human being. Marriage is difficult.

A friend of mine posted the following on her Facebook page:

It doesn’t bother me that Disney has given me unrealistic ideas about men. I’m more annoyed that no matter how much I sing; woodland animals have not once helped with the housework.

Disney has also given most of us an unrealistic idea of marriage. The majority of Disney stories end with “…they got married and lived happily ever after.”

That is just so not true! I have never met a married couple or read about a married couple who have ever ‘lived happily ever after.’ Each happily married couple that I know, have had to work at their marriages—some for a few years, others for many, many years but eventually they have reached a place of being able to say that they have the potential of ‘living happily ever after’.

I need to add that, if based on the above, you are saying “that’s it, I am never getting married,” marriage can actually be the most incredible, wonderful, life time experience you could ever imagine. If you are prepared to work hard at your marriage, to make compromises, to forgive and ‘forget’ in the first seven or so years of your marriage, the following years are filled with love, friendship, laughter and a sense of ‘belonging’ that you will be forever grateful for.

My sister and I were talking about our marriages and how hard we and our husbands have worked to make our marriages something we want to willingly and enthusiastically commit too! We are both so extremely grateful that we did ‘stick it’ out through the tough times, and believe me there are some very tough times, especially if you decide to have children. By having children, you add more responsibility and financial ‘burdens’ on the marriage.

My sister shared that she came to a point in her marriage when she realised that marriage is “not about self-preservation, but about vulnerability”. Marriage is about being able to trust the other person enough that you can be vulnerable with them. This means that you open yourself up to being wounded or hurt by them. You start being totally honest about who you are, you start trusting and believing in your partner, and you stop pretending to be someone you are not because you are afraid they will stop loving you if they knew the ‘real you’.

A synonym of vulnerable is ‘exposed’ and to be exposed means you are open, defenceless and accessible – which sums up marriage perfectly! You need to be open with your partner. You need to practice being defenseless in your marriage – so often our first instinct is to go on the defense or attack towards our partner.

A key ingredient for a successful marriage is to be accessible.
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You need to be reachable, available and approachable at all times for your spouse. This means that you need to ‘learn’ the art of listening and communicating. Many marriages have serious issues due to misunderstandings and lack of clear communication.

A marriage should embody the following proverb: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)

Life is like a ship. Some people get on and off board very easily. Some will stay on board as long as everything is sailing smoothly; but let the rough weather come, and they will abandon the ship. A true friend is the one who will stick with you. —Dr Adrian Rogers

There will be times of adversity in your marriage and it will be during these times that you and your spouse will need to love each other far beyond the love of a friendship.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. —Rollo May

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Noelene Curry lives in Cape Town, South Africa with her Irish husband, three daughters, one dog and two rabbits. Noelene is a public speaker and author of God’s Promise for Families and All God's Stones. Her passion in life is for couples, not just to stay married, but to be happily married. She loves reading, walking, traveling and bush camping. You'll find Noelene writing about God’s redeeming love and His ability to restore people and relationships at

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