In honor of Valentine’s day couples share keys to a strong marriage

| February 8, 2021

Love is the catalyst for every relationship and the anchor that keeps relationships steady and secure. It is essentially the bedrock of any long-lasting marriage. And a long-lasting marriage is the hope of every newlywed. But, to have a good, healthy, enduring love story it takes a lot of effort.

Marriage, like any other relationship, has its ups and its downs, happy moments and challenges, too. Every marriage requires give and take, sacrifice, perseverance, dedication, commitment, a willingness to learn and grow, and the unwavering choice to love the other person day in and day out, no matter what.

“Marriage isn’t just feelings of romance. It is hard decisions and actions taken for the good of your spouse and family. It is a growth process in learning to turn away from selfishness. There is a direct correlation between the level of your selfishness and the level of reward that will come your way in your marriage,” said Dave Martin who has been married to his wife, Esther Martin for 43 years.

Mindy Fehrman, who has been with her husband Russ Fehrman for over 38 years said, “Marriage is not 50/50. Some days it is 10/90 and some it is 80/20. Do not assume it will always be equal.”

Brenda and Richard Davis, who wed one another 48 years ago said, “Marriage is a commitment that you both have to work at. You can’t be selfish at all. There’s lots of sacrifice involved. In the Bible, Jesus says ‘greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ and in marriage, sometimes you have to be willing to give up some of your hopes and dreams of other things in an effort to pursue your relationship with each other and for the sake of your marriage.”

As a couple who will be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this June, Mark and Ann Simmers agree. “Of course, there is sacrifice in marriage. Many times, you will be putting the other person first, or their needs before your own. The needs of your children and the family come before your own. You were used to living for you when you were single, now there is a give and take. You have to learn how to work together, as a team, as a unit. That doesn’t come easily in all areas,” said Ann. “Marriage, in order for it to work the way God intended, is nothing but sacrifice,” Mark said.

Learning how to be a couple, to be one together instead of a single individual and learning to not be selfish are some of the most challenging aspects of marriage, but they are not the only tests couples face. Learning how the other person thinks, learning to see things from the other’s perspective, learning to understand one another’s feelings and communication styles, learning to communicate, learning to really listen to what the other person is saying and what they are not saying, as well as learning each other’s love languages and speaking those love languages can be challenging also. Then, as Mark Simmers and a couple of the other husbands explained, men have the added pressure of knowing they have another person and their family depending on them to provide for them and to keep it all together for them.

In spite of the demands, however, each of these couples agreed, the sacrifices and difficulties are worth it because what they have gained has been far greater than anything lost or sacrificed.

So, what do these couples credit the success of their marriages to? For Russ and Mindy Fehrman, they say communication, shared goals, and lots of humor have contributed to their marriage surviving even the most taxing times. Dave and Esther Martin credit being committed, learning to give and take, not being rigid, learning selflessness and not giving up on the learning curve required to be selfless as aiding in the length of their marriage. Ann Simmers on the other hand shared, “it’s not what but Who. We both found the Lord in our teenage years. He is the one that guides, loves and forgives. It is our choice to yield to what He wants in our marriage. What you learn over time is yielding brings peace and joy, even when it is difficult.” Similarly, Brenda Davis affirmed, “God has helped make our marriage last as long as it has. He has always been the glue that has held us together.”

These married couples shared things they feel are important for every couple to consider before marriage. Russ Fehrman said couples should consider the fact that they will never be alone again. Similarly, Mark Simmers said, “Guys, set your mind to this – it’s permanent.” Additionally, pre-marriage counseling to address the issues of faith, finances, children, communication with one’s partner, etcetera was recommended as well.

“Don’t skip marriage counseling. If you have baggage, any kind of baggage even from childhood or past relationships, emotional issues or unresolved issues, you need to get those things taken care of through counseling so they can be resolved before you commit to marriage. There will be enough issues as you take your journey together, so start with a clean slate,” said Brenda Davis.

Davis also said, “When you marry you make a covenant between you, God and your spouse, and you have to do everything you can do to be committed to that. It is important to understand how God views marriage. Commit your lives to Jesus Christ and develop a personal relationship with Christ because He has to be the center of your relationship. He has to be the head of both of you.”

In marriage, in any relationship really, there are some key components to having a strong relationship. As Russ Fehrman said, “there is no key with a magic answer. You must make things happen with your partner.” Accordingly, his wife Mindy expressed the importance of communication, of letting one’s partner know when something is wrong but also letting he or she know when something is right, too. Mark and Ann Simmers said, “Forgiveness is essential. Although there are many reasons for divorce, God’s highest way is to forgive and let go of the past.” Dave Martin explained he feels the most important key in a marriage “is this: pray together with your spouse and ask God to help you.”

Brenda Davis said, “My grandma always told me to keep God the head, and Rich’s cousin always said, ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger, work it out before you to go bed.’ Don’t let it fester. It makes you a prisoner and gives you a wound. Life gives you lemons. You can either make lemonade or become sour. Always try to keep a positive attitude because attitude is everything.”

Mark Simmers conveyed some encouraging thoughts also. “’But God’ is one of my favorite phrases. But God will help you in every aspect of marriage, if you let Him. It’s also a blessing to have someone with you to ‘spill your guts’ to and really talk things out with.”

These couples went on to reveal advice or tips that will help strengthen a marriage relationship.

Tips for the Husband:

  • Listen and care.
  • Consider how you can be unselfish.
  • Learn to do practical things that will bless your wife.
  • Always make sure she knows you cherish her. Make her feel special. Take her on spontaneous drives. Bring her a bouquet of flowers or a little gift. Leave her a card or a little note around the house or in her lunch box. Compliment her. Tell her she looks beautiful.
  • Think about her and be thoughtful toward her. Be kind. Tell her you’re taking the whole day and taking her wherever she wants to go. Ask her if there is something special she would like to do, and then do it or make it happen.
  • Keep her safe, and help your wife to feel safe and cared for – physically, emotionally and financially.
  • Remember a lot of little surprises are better than rare big surprises.
  • Pray for her. As Dave Martin says, “it will do good things to both of you.” Pray with her. Read the Bible together. Put God first and at the center of your marriage and your relationship. Pray for your family.
  • Realize men and women do not look at things the same way. It could be aggravating if you want everything your way, so listen to God’s heart in both viewpoints.
  • Give your spouse some space. You do not have to do everything together. You are both individuals, allow one another to be. Be sensitive on the days she wants to be with her girlfriends or just alone. And know it is okay for you to have time with your buddies or to yourself too.
  • Express appreciation for every day things your wife does for you.
  • Understand that her work and responsibilities are different from yours, but are equally taxing to her, maybe even more so. Your support is very important.
  • You do not baby sit your kids – you parent them. It is a shared responsibility.
  • Do not be afraid to help with cooking, housework, and laundry. Again, those are shared responsibilities.
  • Women need to share their feelings. Let them.
  • Do not be too macho. Share your feelings with your wife.
  • Love her family too.
  • Remember, your wife has a different perspective than yours, which is very important for you to give value to. She has good insight that can be very helpful to you.
  • Your wife is not your servant, nor your enemy. She is your partner and teammate. Treat her as such.
  • Make her feel that next to God, she is the most important person in your life. That means turning off devices and giving her your full attention when you are together and really listening to her. Open doors for her, or whatever chivalrous thing she enjoys. Be her greatest encourager when listening to her dreams.

Tips for the Wife:

  • Listen and care.
  • Do your best to understand his work and career.
  • Give him respect… a little bit of this will go a long way. Respect him in his decisions.
  • Learn a hobby to do with him. Share a common interest.
  • Realize men and women look at things differently. Do not try to have everything your way.
  • Be willing to work hard to make the marriage work. Remember you are a team. Work as a team to make your marriage work.
  • Communicate, but not too much.
  • Understand you will never have control of the TV remote again!
  • Be very mindful of your husband’s physical needs.
  • Make cookies.
  • Make his favorite food.
  • Dress nice for him. Do your makeup.
  • Praise him for all he does. Be kind and considerate toward him.
  • Express admiration for him in his abilities, no matter how small.
  • Do not be shy about expressing the above points openly before others.
  • NEVER criticize his weaknesses.
  • Put God first. Pray together. Attend services together.
  • Cherish your relationship, and have fun. Have a date night once a week. Do something special at least once a month.
  • Do not demand all of your husband’s time. Give him some space. You do not have to do everything together. You are both individuals, allow one another to be. Let him go fishing or hang out with friends, or just have some alone time or time to work on a project. And know it is okay for you to have time with your girlfriends or to yourself too.
  • Make him feel that next to God, he is the most important person in your life. Spend time together, just you and him. Cut out the distractions and outside noise and listen to his heart. Be his greatest cheerleader when listening to his dreams.

“I have always said Rich was my knight in shining armor, and he has always said that I was the gift God gave him and that I was the love of his life. I think that’s how couples should think of each other,” said Brenda Davis.

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