Secrets of long-lasting couples

In a society where almost everything is thrown away, unions that last are almost suspect ... Here are some secrets of happiness.

CHas it ever happened to you to find yourself in front of a loving couple, who have weathered all the storms of life, and who have withstood all the headwinds? To see them, one would never believe it… It seems that everything in their marriage is easy for them and that life has succeeded for them… Obstacles, crises, trials did not however spare them, but it seems that they did not accept that the joy in sharing, for themselves, and for the others… It can even happen to them to say “I love it even more today”, and they really mean it!

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How do they do? Do they have Cupid's recipes saved to their favorites, or access to any potion? We all know that healthy relationships don't come like this ... One of the secrets is that they've built good habits since the beginning of their relationship. In this mass of good habits, marriage is strengthened. Here are some tips for a healthy relationship.

  • Happy couples give each other attention

Have you ever noticed that time metaphors show it's a finite resource and comes at a cost?

"I have no more time." “You are wasting my time.”. "Time is money."

Time is like a currency, and the way you spend it reveals a lot. Healthy relationships show that you listen to each other carefully, you listen to them, you pay attention to them. When one of the two speaks, the other listens. No room for the phone, and the TV is off.

Giving attention implies respect for the person speaking. It shows the person that you are taking care of them. It builds empathy and compassion. All of these things are found at the foundation of all healthy relationships.

  • Healthy couples have empathy

You won't find a strong relationship without empathy. Empathy puts the right shoe on the other foot. Rather than convincing your partner that you are right, empathy sees the other side. He goes the extra mile in each other's shoes. A few years ago, having difficulties as a couple, I sat down with a counselor, seeking help. I will never forget his answer. He told me to sacrifice myself for my wife as Christ sacrificed himself for the church. He was referring to the Bible verse, where Paul says in Ephesians 5: 25

Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her.

The word fell hard on my selfish heart that night, and I never looked at my life the same way again. If you want to transform your marriage, love your bride as Christ loved the church. Divorce would not exist if mutual submission was at the center of every union.

  • Couples who last love unconditionally and don't try to change each other

Your spouse has flaws, right? It is not a surprise…

But your spouse's faults are almost always a projection of yours. You see in your spouse what you cannot see (that you do not accept to see) in yourself. And let's be honest, changing someone is easier than changing yourself… Healthy couples love each other more than they love changing them. And you can't do both, a string of problems arises if you try to change someone: resentment, addiction, lack of privacy ...

The unions that last are those where you love each other, not some version of that person “who would be better in the future”. These unions leave the change to God. As Christians, I believe this is important for marriage in general. Marriage will transform you, expose your flaws in order to become more like our savior.

  • Healthy couples don't "count the points"

Very early in my marriage, I kept notes. Every time I folded clothes or fixed something around the house, I was mentally scoring points in my head. Then when I wanted to play golf, or spend weekends watching football, I would show him the scores I got… The problem? Marriage is not a game. Keeping points implies that you are competing with your wife, and the first rule of competition says there is a winner and a loser! You won't find a scorecard in a healthy relationship, so throw it out.

  • Healthy couples pray together and often

A statistic alerted me a few years ago, which showed that only 1% of couples who pray together divorce. I don't know the details that led to this calculation, but I think it's true, it's spiritual. When I pray with my wife, something in our union is better. I feel closer to her. But praying together regularly is difficult. Go beyond that and try. The difficulty of this simple thing like praying together is one of the reasons I believe this statistic is accurate. Can this be called a spiritual war? Pray with your wife tonight, pray out loud for each other. Do it often.

  • Healthy couples surround themselves with people who make their relationship stronger and more constructive

Healthy couples protect their relationship. They have boundaries, and within that is positive engagement, and people who will actually make their marriage stronger. Often, close friends and family are the most toxic voices. When it does, tough decisions will follow. Healthy couples are going to prefer having difficult conversations rather than negative voices that influence their relationship.

  • Healthy couples seek intimate relationships that are emotional, physical and sexual.

Intimacy is the goal of any relationship, especially in marriage. But privacy is really difficult. Living in the same house, with someone, is easier than you might imagine, and doesn't give you so much trouble. Healthy couples don't just exist in the same space. They embrace the magnificent struggle of intimacy. They tear down the walls, allow their wives to see them for who they are. And most importantly, healthy couples believe that marriage is a door to something bigger, deeper, something eternal. And that something is God.

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Originally published on February 5, 2017

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