I have had spouses, pastors, and even other counselors ask what I believe are the foundational aspects that matter the most for a gratifying marriage. Counseling and written materials that provide skills and tools in 7 major areas can help build a strong, wholesome relationship for lifelong marital happiness.
When couples are effective in the 7 essential components shown below, the probabilities for a gratifying relationship are significantly increased.
1. Expectations: Very simply, expectations will either create a strong emotional connection or deep disappointment and hurt. Whenever a couple is satisfied in their relationship, the simple reason is expectations are being met. Whenever a couple is disappointed in their marriage, expectations are not being fulfilled.
2. Disagreement Discussion Guidelines: Disagreements are natural occurrences in happy marriages. Couples in satisfying relationships certainly have disagreements—but they rarely have fights, arguments, and conflicts. So a disagreement is never the problem, it is how a couple handles a disagreement while finding a solution.
3. Apologizing and Forgiving: The Bible has nearly 125 references to the importance of forgiveness for interpersonal relationships. When spouses have the momentous goal to apologize and forgive one another for marital hurts or sins that substantially improves the chances for a gratifying relationship.
4. Finances: 70% of couples fight over finances. Couples need a budget and financial guidelines to produce financial harmony.
5. Communication: Words and behaviors can either build up or tear down a relationship. Couples need basic skills for improving daily communication in both verbal and physical aspects of a relationship.
6. Boundaries: Healthy couples set limits with unhealthy behaviors. Those “guards” make a significant difference in generating a satisfying relationship.
7. Faith Life: Worshiping on a regular basis, praying at meals, and simply praying together for blessings, the needs of others, or personal requests of almighty God can strengthen a relationship. Striving to please God usually leads to healthy behaviors and nurturing words.
This Week: Discuss with your spouse what steps you can take together to strengthen or improve your relationship in all 7 major aspects of a marriage.