7 Secrets to a Happy, Healthy Christian Marriage

My husband and I will celebrate sixteen years of “wedded bliss” tomorrow. That isn’t to say we’ve never had a disagreement. I always marvel when I hear that there are marriages in which the couple claims that’s the case. I can’t imagine it. I’m a lawyer. The tendency to state my opinion and to advocate relentlessly for my position is as much a part of me as my fingernails.

A beloved aunt told me about twenty years ago that I’d never get married because I didn’t know when to be quiet. (Okay. She said, “Shut up.” Details.  Details.) In any event, I took her opinion to heart—for a minute. I didn’t have to look any further than my immediate surroundings to realize she was wrong. My aunt had never practiced what she preached, you see. Neither she nor any of her five sisters had been shrinking violets. And, somehow, they’d married men who adored them for who and what they were. So, I decided that—if a suitable gentleman ever extended an offer of marriage to me—I would only accept him if I knew he’d love me as I was—warts and all. Yes, I needed to learn humility and submissiveness. No, I’d never closely observed women who practiced it consistently in real life.

Enter Michael. The gifted young preacher couldn’t have enjoyed a more traditional upbringing. Born stateside to Jamaican parents, he’d been raised in New York and Florida as a staunch fourth generation Pentecostal. His jack-of-all-trades Dad had brought home the plantain, and his stay-at-home Mom had fried it up in a pan. The poor guy had absolutely no idea what cruel twists of fate lay ahead. My husband met me soon after I started law school, so he’d never known the slightly less annoying me. If you’ve ever had the distinct pleasure of starting or attempting to maintain a relationship with a law student, you will readily empathize with my poor husband. It suffices to say there were hurdles. Wonder of wonders, he married me anyway.

We’ve both discovered along the way that marriage is the greatest of adventures, and we’ve also learned several important lessons.

1) Make Jesus the center of the relationship. (I’ve heard that the commitment to make one’s partner supremely happy is the secret to a long and happy union. I would add a caveat to that statement. The commitment to make one’s partner—and the Lord Jesus Christ—supremely happy is the true secret to a lasting marriage. If you place the Lord at the center of the relationship, things somehow seem to work themselves out.)

2) Tell your spouse that you’ll never cheat, that you’ll be with him/her until the end, and mean it. (Enough said.)

3) Tell your wife you love her and that she’s beautiful even when she’s convinced she looks a wreck. (This is particularly important during pregnancy. Oh, the stories I could tell.)

4) Say you’re sorry even if you don’t believe you’re wrong. (In all honesty, this works both ways. If you’ve reached an impasse in the course of a disagreement, just throw in an “I’m sorry” and watch the atmosphere change.)

5) Always maintain a united front regarding disciplinary matters in the presence of the kids. (We falter at this one more than I’d like to admit, but it’s a good rule of thumb anyway.)

6) Offer to take your spouse’s turn to feed the cat, the dog, the tarantula, fill-in-the blank. (In our house, this lovely ritual is known as “Kiki Duty.” All four of us participate in cleaning Kiki’s’s litter box and feeding her according to an established morning and evening routine. None of us like to do it, so offering to take someone’s morning or evening is a huge deal.)

7) Make time for an occasional date. (We never do this. LOL! But, this summer we’re doing something extraordinary. We’re shipping the kids off to California to spend time with relatives for an entire month. Will we live to tell the tale? More on that later.)

Happy Anniversary, Michael!!! Blessings, all…

Sybil

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