Over the years couple's have asked us what we consider to be the "must haves" in a successful marriage. For us our top 3 are: Communication, Be Quick to Forgive, & We're on the Same Team (Your spouse has your best interest at heart). Let us explain further...
Communication is what creates intimacy, connection, oneness. Without it we drift apart, become disconnected and increase the chances for misunderstandings. The purpose of communicating is to create understanding. We communicate with the intent of being understood. Consequently, we are aware of our tone, our body language and the words we speak (Proverbs 15:1 & 15:4; Ephesians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 13:5; Romans 14:19;
1 Thessalonians 5:11). Our statements stay away from "you" comments and are geared more towards expressing thoughts, perceptions and feelings. For example, "When this happened, this is how it made me feel; although I know that is not how it was intended." Similarly we listen with the intent of understanding. (Philippians 4:9; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Peter 3: 1-4; 1 Peter 3: 8-9; James 1:19; Ephesians 4: 1-3). It is human nature to want to have MY come back, MY response, MY excuse...MY, MY, MY ready even before my spouse is done communicating. That is not active listening...that is listening with the intent of exonerating myself. There can't be MY in marriage communication. When we entered into the covenant of marriage "I" and "MY" became "WE" and "OURS"...we are one. Therefore listening with the intent of understanding isn't about who is right or wrong. It's about hearing what your other half is thinking and feeling. It's about sympathizing and empathizing. It's about understanding a different perspective; because we are different and we are going to disagree. Sometimes it means agreeing to disagree because the issue really isn't that big of a deal. Will it matter in 20 years? Extending grace and compassion to communicate is necessary because after all...what is more important, being right or the relationship?
QUICK TO FORGIVE:
There is a quote by Ruth Graham that sums up forgiveness and marriage: "A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers." When two people, who are different, by God's design, get married, it is inevitable that disagreements, misunderstanding and conflict will occur. How we handle those moments, which points back to the importance of good communication, will lend itself to multiple opportunities to extend grace and forgiveness. We forgive because God forgives us, not because we deserve it. (Colossians 3:13; Matthew 6: 14-15; Ephesians 4:31-32; Matthew 11:25) We have heard Joyce Meyers say that "holding forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die". Matthew West's song "Forgiveness" says forgiveness "can even set a prisoner free...be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace...The prisoner that it really frees is you". Forgiveness is a choice. A marriage can not grow and be successful when we harbor unforgiveness, offense, irritation, bitterness...those are breeding grounds for the enemy to come in to tear us apart. We will not allow that into our marriage and we are continually on guard, checking our own hearts, to make sure we don't give an opening for division to come in.
ON THE SAME TEAM:
(You're spouse has your best interest at heart)
There is no win/lose in marriage...no his side/her side. It's either win/win or lose/lose. We are on the same team. When a sport's team plays a game, they communicate about the play, execute the play; and when a player messes up, they huddle and move forward towards a win. If the team wins, they all win...if the team loses a game, they all lose the game. Just because one player may have dropped the pass, or missed a goal, doesn't mean that one player is to blame. The team rallies around him/her and they work together for unity, oneness and a win as a team. Our marriage is OUR TEAM...we are in this together. We are each others biggest cheerleader. We have each others backs and we have each others best interest at heart. When one of us messes up, acts ugly, fails to communicate, communicates unlovingly or disrespectfully, takes each other for granted...the list could go on...we CHOOSE to remember that we are on the same team. My spouse has my best interest at heart and would not purposely do something to hurt, harm, irritate (well, maybe to be irritatingly silly at times...LOL), disrespect, act unloving, etc. towards me. This is the mindset we choose to have. So, when communication is lacking; when forgiveness is needed...having the TEAM mindset paves the way for a successful marriage play...a ONENESS TOUCHDOWN. (1 Peter 4:8; Ecclesiastes 4:12; Mark 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:17)
Write these keys on a note card and place on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator and on your dashboard...prominent places that will remind you to put into practice these keys to unlock marriage oneness. Look up the scriptures provided under each key point for further study as a couple. Make a quality decision to put these keys into practice.
Communicate with the purpose of being understood; Listen with the purpose of understanding
Be Quick to Forgive
Be a Marriage TEAM...have each others best interest at heart
These 3 keys are a choice, that when executed daily, will produce a marriage WIN/WIN called ONENESS.