The question, "What makes a good marriage?" has challenged everyone from priests to pastors and psychologists for hundreds of years. There is no magic formula for successful matrimony, but there are several factors that can help make or break a happy home. Marriage, as ordained by God, is a holy institution designed to blend, or marry, two distinctly different individuals into a single cohesive unit to produce offspring. But the problem with blending two personalities is that each of them is so very complex. Husbands and wives may not only come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, but also possess individual traits that have been molded and shaped by life experiences. When couples in love commit to a lifelong mutually satisfying relationship, the process of oneness begins. "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:23-24).
The foundation for what makes a good marriage consists of three basic ingredients: love, communication, and compatibility. While some would include financial stability, money or the lack thereof is secondary to a couple's ability to share genuine affection; exchange opinions, ideas and aspirations; and live together harmoniously. A marriage begins first and foremost with love. But true love is not just based on physical attraction alone; it is an emotion that transcends the desire for sexual gratification. The virtue of love empowers and enables husbands and wives to forgo selfishness and become self-less, giving sacrificially and without reservation for the benefit and well being of their mates. Love is what makes a good marriage last for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and in poverty and wealth until death parts.
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth..." (I Corinthians 13:4-8a).
As couples mature in the relationship and in love, communication should be a natural byproduct. When husbands and wives feel free to voice opinions without being criticized, and share ideas and aspirations with a partner who is like minded, communicating becomes second nature. The more couples talk to one another, the less likely the union will end in divorce. Partners who share innermost thoughts and freely express feelings become best friends; and that's what makes a good marriage. Best friends who are married don't need outside influences from family, friends, coworkers or confidantes. A listening ear, an understanding heart, and a mate who knows what to say and when and how to say it all contribute towards a happy home free of friction, disagreement, and frustration. Couples who agree at the dinner table usually have no trouble agreeing in the bedroom. The longer husbands and wives live together in harmony, the easier it becomes to communicate and understand one another, sometimes without saying a word. Partners married for decades sometimes finish one anothers sentences or develop their own language. Verbal conversation gives way to non-verbal and intuitive responses as two totally individual people meld into one.
Finally, what makes a good marriage a lifelong love story is compatibility. The motivation for couples to decide to wed is largely based on physical attraction and common interests. But after years of living together, differences in personality and temperament begin to disappear as they become one in mind, thought processes, and purpose. For instance, a husband who does not like pie filling prefers to eat only the crust. However, his wife hates the crust and will only eat the filling. The two of them can share a single piece of pie and both are satisfied. What makes a good marriage is that lifelong partners develop methods of capitalizing on each others strengths and weaknesses. A computer-illiterate husband needs a wife who understands how to navigate the Internet; and an all-thumbs wife can benefit from marrying a husband who is handy with a hammer. Similarly, a spouse who is unable to handle stress and pressure can benefit from a mate who remains cool, calm and collected under a crisis. A good marriage becomes even better when two compatible halves are joined together to make a whole.
While money or the lack thereof can have a negative or positive affect on what makes a good marriage, a couple's ability to love in spite of the size of their bank account is essential. No one should base a decision to marry solely on money. In an uncertain economy fortunes can be lost in a single day; and time and chance can cause a pauper to become a prince overnight. It takes money to live, but it takes love to make a marriage last. True love is malleable enough to endure the good times and the bad; and genuine love doesn't walk out the door when the job ends or the house is foreclosed. But heartfelt, enduring compassion waits patiently without complaining and does not mind sharing the burden of chronic illness, bankruptcy or the loss of a loved one. Those who first value true love; secondly, are able to communicate emotion, and thirdly, consistently utilize personal strengths and weaknesses for the common good will discover what makes a good marriage and endeavor to protect it.