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Foundations of a Lifelong Marriage

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There are many principles that, if practiced, can help you build a solid marital foundation.

There are many principles that, if practiced, can help you build a solid marital foundation. Here are some of those key principles:

Commitment

“Commitment” is not a popular word in our culture. Our society emphasizes individual rights, personal freedom and mobility. The idea of giving these up because of dedication to another person or loyalty to a relationship makes a lot of people feel trapped.

But I don’t think you can have it both ways. You can’t build a divorce-proof marriage and remain unbending toward your personal rights. That doesn’t mean you give up all your freedoms or choices, but it does mean your commitment to the relationship supersedes your individual rights.

Commitment means putting your spouse’s needs above your own. Studies show that the best indicator of marital well-being is how well each partner feels his or her needs are being met. I’ve found that when I focus only on my needs and forget about my wife, I tend to get irritated and disappointed. I may even begin to imagine how much better off I’d be with a different wife. On the other hand, I feel satisfied when I focus on my wife’s needs and how I can creatively meet them.

Communication

Someone once said, “Communication is to love as blood is to the body.” Take the blood out of the body and it dies. Take communication away and a relationship dies.

The kind of communication I’m talking about isn’t just exchanging information; it’s sharing feelings, hurts, joys. That means getting below the surface and examining the hows and whys of daily life.

But it’s not easy since men and women are different in this area. Research makes it clear that women have greater linguistic abilities than men. Simply stated, she talks more than he. As an adult, she typically expresses her feelings and thoughts far better than her husband and is often irritated by his reluctance to talk. Every knowledgeable marriage counselor will tell you that the inability or unwillingness of husbands to reveal their feelings is one of the chief complaints of wives.

Like conflict resolution, communication is a learned skill — and it’s often hard work. Time must be reserved for meaningful conversations. Taking walks and going out for dinner are conversation inducers that keep love alive.

Patience

We live in an instant world — fast foods, cash machines, computer access to information, direct dial communication all over the world.

The problem is we can’t heat up a marriage in the microwave. Relationships just don’t work that way. Marriage, especially takes time and care to become really beautiful. That means learning patience.

When you put two people — any two — in the same house, you’re going to have irritations and annoyances. There are times when I think God designed marriage just to teach me patience. My wife doesn’t always respond like I wish she would. And she still expects me to pick up my dirty clothes, be on time for dinner and remember her birthday You’d think that after 30 years of marriage, she would have given up on me. In the meantime I’m considering humoring her a little. Recently I even put my underwear on the floor next to the laundry hamper. I wonder how she’s doing with patience.

Beyond the day-to-day quirks and foibles you must accept, patience is needed for the long haul. It may take years for you to develop the kind of relationship that’s satisfying to both of you. A lot of people don’t have the patience to wait around for things to evolve. But if you’re willing to sit tight and hang in there, your marriage can be fantastic.

Strong Beliefs

We’re more than a bundle of feelings and physical sensations. There is an inner core of our being, an eternal part of who we are, that represents the deepest, most permanent aspect of marriage.

Research shows that couples with strong religious beliefs are far more likely to stay together than those without them. It’s the shared morals and values that hold a husband and wife together. This solid foundation is a fortress against the storms of life.

For my wife and me, our Christian faith has been the bedrock of our relationship. In our 30-plus years of marriage, we have consistently turned to the Bible for direction, guidance and comfort.

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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