As I sit down with newly engaged couples, I’m reminded of the excitement that accompanies two people fully joining their lives to one another. They are eager to start their new life as a couple, and they are committed to journeying together for the long haul, but they often don’t realize how hard the path before them really is.
From one perspective, marriage is simple and easy: love your best friend for as long as you live. From another perspective, marriage is extremely complicated and incredibly difficult: continually give of yourself for the good of your spouse.
As I reflect back upon 10 years of marriage, I’m reminded that Kaitie and I have come a long way. We’ve grown in how we love, how we listen, how we serve, how we persevere, and how we simply enjoy one another. But while we’ve come a long way, I’m also reminded that we still have a long way to go. We’re still learning to sacrifice, still learning to forgive, still learning to trust, and still learning to love in the ordinary ebb and flow of everyday life.
Whether you’re newly engaged or well traveled on the path of marriage, we all face the same question: what makes a great marriage? As strange as it may seem, it’s easy for us to fly past this question without much thought. The newly engaged couple is so excited about finally being married that its easy to assume everything will naturally fall into place and a great marriage will simply happen. Couples farther down the road know better, but they run into their own struggles. The newness of marriage wears off, and they begin just going through the motions. Dreams of a great marriage fade, and they slowly get used to saying, “that’s just how it is,” or they just give up and move on, thinking the grass is greener somewhere else.
So, what makes a great marriage? Deep down, what should we want our marriages to look like? What should we be working towards, talking towards, sacrificing towards, and praying towards? What picture of marriage is beautiful enough to capture our desires and reshape the way we live day in and day out?
My purpose here is not to throw out a quick and easy answer, but to get us to ask the question and honestly think through how we would answer. Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of what Kaitie and I have learned as we struggle and stumble our way forward in our own marriage. I'll also be touching on some aspects of marriage that I walk through with young couples in premarital counseling sessions - connection, purpose, friendship, communication, service, conflict & intimacy (all of which are relevant no matter how many years we've been married).
However how far we've come, we still have a long way to go. And as we journey together towards rich and strong marriages, the direction we travel in depends heavily upon how we answer this simple question - what makes a great marriage?