BRADY COLUMN: How to Stay Married

Published 10:30 am Friday, June 24, 2022

It’s been a long time since I have written on the subject of marriage. As a minister and writer, I have attempted to address the issues of everybody and not everybody is married. Nor should they be. But marriage is the basis of the family and is of critical importance to the welfare of humankind. Not long ago, after I had performed a wedding ceremony, a young married woman rushed up to me in the hallway and said, “I appreciate your remarks about marriage. But the real question is ‘How do you stay married?’ I hope you will address that subject sometime.”

With those words still ringing in my ears and the knowledge of the wedding ceremony I will be conducting for my grandson and his bride to be in two weeks, I decided to tackle the critical subject of “How to Make a Good Marriage Better.” When a couple stands at the altar of a church during a marriage ceremony, they are not just making a deal or entering into a legal contract. Oh, there is some of that included alright. But, in reality, as this couple joins their hands and states their vows, they are entering into a covenant. As Dr. David McKechnie, former pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas, observed, “A covenant means that there is a third party involved, and that third party is the Spirit of God. When you exchange wedding vows … you are doing something divine. You are saying, “Thank you God, for this gift and opportunity.’”

Now, there is so much that could be said and should be said about making a good marriage better, but because of space limitation, I am only going to focus on the “practical.” And to be sure, I do not claim to be an expert on marriage. However, I do know that good marriages are not the result of luck nor are they made in Heaven. Good marriages are practical. The following are a few suggestions for making a good marriage better.

First, don’t leave your brains at the altar-keep on dating! A young married woman said to a minister, “I have been married only a short time, but I have a question. Why can’t married people continue to be sweethearts?” That’s not only a good question, but a must question for a better marriage. The major reason for silver and golden anniversaries is that the couples kept on dating-continued to be sweethearts in their love for beach other.

Second, clear away unrealistic role expectations!

“You will fulfill all my needs.” “Stay the way you are.” “You are supposed to make me happy.” “You should be more like me.” As I said, clear away unrealistic role expectations.

Third, nurture the relationship! How do we nurture the relationship? It’s the friends we choose together, the prayers we pray together, the problems we solve together, the joys and sorrows we share together. It’s the things we intentionally do together. We write each other into our date book.

Fourth, understand that loyalty and trustworthiness are the roots of everything good. As marriage partners, we must avoid doing the little things that night create suspicion and doubt about our loyalty and love. Our loyalty certainly includes sexual faithfulness, but it also includes so much more.

Fifth, make “positive” the choice! As someone put it, marriage is a duet not a duel. Every marriage has negative and positive factors. The question is, which option is going to dominate in our marriage? Somewhere I read that for every negative in marriage, there needs to be five positives.

Sixth, take the initiative — it’s always up to you! If we want our marriage to work, it’s always up to us-never our partner. Recently, a friend called and said, “Hal, I had to apologize to my wife and it wasn’t even my fault. I replied, “Welcome to marriage!”

Seventh, keep a good sense of humor! It must have been a wife who commented that husbands come in three classes, prizes, surprises and consolation prizes. Laughter is the good medicine.

Eight, a commitment to God! Many other suggestions could be made for making a good marriage better, but the best suggestion is committing our marriage to God. A wise old man said, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.”

Friends, all this and a good marriage will be better!