10 Signs of a Strong Marriage

10 Signs of a Strong Marriage

I sat with Becky as she shared her feelings of utter horror, shock, and devastation from Thursday morning. She shook, with tears streaming steadily down her face. Her husband had just announced he wanted a divorce after 20 years of marriage. They had raised three children together. They had built a house—a home—together for over two decades. Becky hadn’t worked outside the home since they married. What would she do now for income? For companionship? It was a shock to say the least.

The next several weeks began a dialogue between Becky and her husband about what had been missing for some years. It resulted in much pain as they asked the questions: Why didn’t we talk about this before? How did it get to this point? I wish I could tell you that Becky’s story is a rare one, and that she was the only woman I knew with such hurt. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Researchers estimate that nearly 50% of today’s marriages will end in divorce or separation (2016 of the U.S. Divorce & Marriage Rates by Year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here).

My husband has been such a joy in my life and our marriage has truly been a partnership over the last decade. Through our years of marriage, we have learned that the following 10 qualities can be strong indicators of the health of your marriage. 

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  • 1. Communication

    1. Communication

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    No topic should be off limits. As life partners, keeping an open line of communication is critical. When my friend Becky and her husband began the divorce process, there were many topics that had been untouched for years. The inability to communicate honestly within a marriage could be the death of it.

    Do you feel that there are topics that are best left alone in your marriage? Have you carried a past hurt from something your spouse said or did that you have not communicated clearly about? Is there a need (emotional, physical, etc.) you have within the marriage that you have not communicated to your spouse? These are questions to consider as you evaluate your marriage. 

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  • 2. Conflict

    2. Conflict

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    Conflict does not automatically indicate an unhealthy marriage. We are all different. We have our own challenges, different perspectives, and old hurts. These things make conflict pretty much inevitable. The key to a strong marriage is your ability to work through conflict.

    Having a game plan now (in the absence of conflict) will affect how you move forward. Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” This does not mean that there will never be conflict. It means that we are blessed as we work toward keeping the peace.

    Failing to communicate doesn’t mean that conflict isn’t there. It means you are unwilling to address it. The problem with that is it will fester. Take the time to talk about the challenges and be willing to work through them. 

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  • 3. Financial Transparency

    3. Financial Transparency

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    As you’ve likely heard, money is one of the biggies when it comes to marital bliss or discourse. People always find it funny that my husband and I rarely buy each other gifts for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and the like. Early on in our marriage, we just decided that it wasn’t that important to us. We will usually get a card or write a letter for each other, and there has been the occasional surprise. But for us, the financial goals we had established were more important than a trinket on the day of the event.

    That said, this was a choice for us. Many couples don’t have financial conversations. Usually, there is a primary financial handler who pays the bills and keeps track of the finances. That is certainly fine. However, it is necessary to be on the same page about your spending, your financial goals, and what expenses are considered reasonable or unreasonable. 

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  • 4. Trust

    4. Trust

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    There is incredible peace that comes with trust. Years ago, I was in a relationship with a man I did not trust. He broke my trust early in the relationship and sadly, continued to make poor decisions for years after. Even today I can’t tell you why I took it for so long, but it was miserable to say the least.

    Some of you have gone through a particularly devastating part of your marriage that has caused broken trust. The good news is, there is hope. With two parties who are “all in” for their marriage, God can heal, restore, and redeem the broken places, including broken trust.

    Unlike that previous relationship, I don’t need to constantly double-check my husband’s whereabouts, social media, or other details of his life. We have full transparency, and I know he is honest. Trust is critical to a relationship. If you don’t have it, communicate about it, and begin the process of working on what each of you has concerns about. 

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  • 5. Growth

    5. Growth

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    We are never finished growing. A productive and healthy life means one full of growth in our spiritual journey with the Lord, our physical fitness, our financial stewardship, our parenting techniques, and our marriages. We grow in closeness. Healthy marriages are between two individuals who are growing.

    There should be much grace during the growth process, as it can be challenging. Commit to growing. Do you struggle with insecurity? Are you quick to anger? Do you talk calmly or tend to scream? What are the areas in your relationship you know are a struggle for you?

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  • 6. Willingness

    6. Willingness

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    A healthy marriage involves two people who are willing to grow, willing to learn, willing to try, and willing to risk. You cannot move the ball down the field if one person is unwilling to communicate, change, and persevere through the hard times. A healthy marriage is the result of a couple willing to do the hard work necessary to have a fulfilling relationship. Healthy marriages don’t fall into our laps; they are birthed through willing hearts. 

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  • 7. Passion

    7. Passion

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    The early years are often filled with passion. But due to parenting, health problems, possible weight gain, and complacency, many lose their zeal for their spouse. Togetherness, in a physical sense, is a critical component of a healthy marriage.

    Passion, of course, isn’t only exhibited through sex, but also through pursuit. Do you write love notes? Do you send sweet texts? Do you hold hands or cuddle during television time? Do you laugh at his jokes? Do you hurry home and put on fresh makeup because you can’t wait to see him at the end of the day?

    I’m certainly not suggesting that these things are a daily occurrence, as life does sometimes get in the way. But intentionally having date nights and kissing and doing the things that were once exciting can be just what your marriage needs to get back on track. 

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  • 8. Prayer

    8. Prayer

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    Do you pray for your spouse daily? Do you lift him up throughout the day as he struggles through that tough meeting or big project? Do you hold hands and pray together about the big (and small) issues of life? Do you commit to praying with the family on a regular basis?

    Prayer is the backbone of the marriage. It is the glue that binds you when feelings are hurt, hearts are mending, and anger is fuming. Prayer binds hearts together in a special way. 

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  • 9. Effort

    9. Effort

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    Okay, so I admit it: I put much more effort into the early years of our marriage than I did after a few years had passed. And it showed. I wore the nightgown with the holes in it. I only sometimes fixed my hair and put on makeup, or only occasionally asked my husband how his day was.

    I began to feel convicted that I was putting very little effort into my marriage. I took it for granted. I hid behind how tired I was. But the truth is, I put effort into other things like children’s projects, ministry plans, and friends. We have time for what we make time for. Don’t take your spouse for granted. 

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  • 10. Fun

    10. Fun

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    Have fun. Be spontaneous. Have a dance party in the living room. Sing karaoke on a weeknight. Laugh—big time. Go hiking. Ride bikes. Exercise together. Try a new activity. Develop hobbies you can do together. This journey is supposed to be a fun one. Don’t make your marriage all work and no play. 

    Jennifer Maggio is an author of four books, mother of three, and wife to Jeff. She is a national speaker and founder of the international nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is an abuse survivor who is passionate about women finding a life of complete freedom in Christ. For more info, visit www.jennifermaggio.com

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