How to Have a Perfect Marriage
Everyone wants a perfect marriage. No one goes into marriage hoping that it will fail.
But so many marriages DO fail and perfection is seemingly unattainable.
My husband and I are celebrating 16 years of marriage and we have discovered how to have the perfect marriage. Want to know our secret?
It’s simple really. Change your definition of perfect.
We are bombarded by all of these ideas of what a perfect marriage looks like. We hear things like soul mates and you complete me and when our marriages are less than that, we think we are missing something. We want to be our spouse’s number one priority. We want romance and mystery. We expect those first feelings of falling in love to last.
And they don’t. We become disillusioned and those things that were quirky before we got married become irritating and over time we allow them to grow and fester and become deal breakers.
The truth is marriage takes work. And until YOU are perfect, your marriage will never be perfect. But because my husband and I desire to have a great marriage, we have learned a few key things.
1. We are both sinners in need of grace. We mess up and we are all very aware of our own failings. But for some reason, we have this unfair expectation that our spouse have it all together, that they treat us right all the time, and that they shouldn’t blow it. My husband and I have both learned that the more willing we are to admit our own weaknesses and confess our sins to each other, the more grace we are able to demonstrate to one another. A perfect marriage relies heavily on grace.
2. Sometimes we go to sleep upset. Marriage advice always seems to include this verse from Ephesians 4:26- “don’t let the sun go down on your wrath”. People take this to mean that you should never go to bed angry and that you should always resolve issues before bed. Early in our marriage, this led to a lot of guilt for me. There were times when I would be upset and just so tired, but of course I couldn’t go to sleep, right?!! Over time, we discovered that some of our arguments were BECAUSE we were tired and the resolution was sleep. Everything looks different in the morning or when you have had some time to move past the issue. Things don’t seem quite as huge and awful when the emotions are gone. We have found that discussing struggles when we are calm and when we have had time to think and pray about the issue is SO much better than trying to figure things out when we are in the heat of the moment.
3. Comparing our marriage to others is always a mistake. Expecting my husband to bring me flowers is a mistake. Wanting him to do the dishes and the laundry is unfair. Once I was able to get past the unfair expectations of what I thought the “ideal” man was, I was able to see clearly the blessings and the unique giftings of my husband instead of always wishing that he was more______________ (fill in the blank). I still have to fight against this. Sometimes another man will comment on my blog and I will be tempted to wish that my husband would comment more. Or I will hear about how another husband does all of the laundry and I will forget the ridiculous blessing I have received in being able to be a stay at home mama.
4. Appreciate your spouse’s passions and interests especially when they are different than your own. My husband enjoys playing video games and it took me a long time to understand that this is his favorite way to relax. We both had to learn to not begrudge the other person for the things they enjoy and not to judge their interests. We also needed to trust (and respect!) the other person’s ability to balance work with play. If your spouse is completely out of balance, it should be something that you discuss together, but understand that gentle encouragement goes a lot further than criticism.
5. Fix your eyes on Jesus. I saved this one for last, because it is the most important. The ONLY way to have a “perfect” marriage is to trust in the Author and Perfecter of our faith- to rely on the One who is writing our stories. You can’t make your spouse fix their eyes on Jesus, but you can seek him with all your heart. The amazing thing that happens is that this fixing-our-eyes-on-Jesus changes US and when we are changed, others (including our spouses!) will want to know about this hope that we have. It has been amazing to me in my marriage that when I have stopped trying to “fix” my husband and instead fixed my eyes on Jesus, I have been the one who has changed. And those things that I thought were wrong with my husband were not. They were simply things that God was using to refine ME. Things that bothered me in the past, I now LOVE. Isn’t that just like God?
God has not promised us a perfect marriage, but He has promised His perfect presence to be with us always. And so it is possible to have a perfect marriage- not by our faulty understanding of perfection, but by changing our definition and allowing God to define our marriage. We are determined to rely on God and not give up and THAT is perfection.
Happy 16th, Babe! Thank you for being the perfect man for me. Our imperfections mesh perfectly together, because our God is perfect. I love falling more and more in love with you!