What’s the key to marriage success?
Last month Kia and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. Our celebration consisted of an unbelievable trip to Guatemala (which we visited 20 year earlier for language school).
Twenty years is a long time – for anything – anymore. You’ll see just how long 20 years is by looking at the below wedding picture. Yes, that is Kia and I 20 years ago. I was not 15.
Occasionally, I get asked the question, “How do you make your marriage last?” There are several things, I believe add to a GREAT marriage (like taking time to be alone with each other), but let me tell you #1, most important key to a long lasting marriage.
It’s not Jesus…
One of the joys of teaching children is hearing what comes out of their mouths. Sometimes the joy comes in the complete unexpectedness, but other times the fun comes in knowing exactly what the answer will be.
One of the expected answers when teaching in a church setting, especially with groups of kids between 4-8, is “Jesus.” It doesn’t matter what the question is, one answer will always be “Jesus.”
Question: “How many commandments did God give Moses?”
Question: “Who won the 1985 World Series?”
Question: “What’s your mother’s name?”
You get the idea…
My answer to what creates a lasting and strong marriage is not Jesus. Is Jesus a key to creating a vital relationship? Yes, but my answer works for anyone – whether you believe in Jesus or not.
My answer is not Jesus, but the principle was created by Jesus. It’s something He designed in the beginning, so it works whether you believe in Jesus or not.
Say it. Mean it.
About 10 years ago, Kia and I attended Mountain Top Marriage seminar. We spent a week learning about creating a strong marriage and just hanging out in the mountains (along with some other stuff, if you want to use your imagination).
Though there was a week’s worth of great material, my revelation was one simple thing.
We committed to one another to never, ever, under any circumstance divorce. In other words, committed to live the marriage vows – “Til death do us part.” They became more than just words; they were true intent.
We spoke it with our words, and meant it in our hearts. There is no going back on that commitment. This is what God created, and the Bible refers to as “covenant” – an unbreakable bond.
Power of covenant
Let me wrap this up by sharing with you one of the biggest benefits of this commitment (or re-commitment) to one another. It has to do with my kids.
Like most families, this issue of divorce arises from time to time. Our kids, like anyone’s kids, hear and see in practical terms families dealing with divorce (school, sports & activities, family, church, etc). Those moments can cause unease in their hearts.
Can this happen to mom & dad?
So we’ve discussed it at home, and we’ve told this same story I just told you. “Mom and Dad have promised to each other – with our words and in our hearts – to never, ever divorce. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we argue, but we’ll never get a divorce.”
In a good way, it ends the conversation. It creates peace in their hearts and joy in our home.
Our marriage isn’t perfect. We have things we work on. But there is never any fear – in me, in Kia, in our kids – that separation is a possibility. We’ve made a covenant. We’ve committed – in our hearts and with our words – to never divorce.
It’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten on marriage.
20 years later…here we are.