We live in a culture that idealizes love and romantic relationships without emphasizing how much work must go into them to help them be successful. Whether or not we were observant enough, or our parents were open enough to help us understand this principle, the fact remains that when God brings two people together in marriage, those individuals are first and foremost flawed and sinful individuals attempting to enter into a relationship that is designed to be symbolic of Christ’s perfect love for the Church. Because all marriages are made up of two sinful individuals, maintaining a good relationship takes intentional grace and trust in addition to love if it is to last and be a symbol of Christ’s love for the Church. This article will briefly lay out a Christian counselor’s thoughts on building and maintaining an intentional and successful marriage.

Communication in Marriage

Every healthy and successful relationship relies on positive and consistent communication. Communication in marriage is different from other relationships because communication occurs whenever the couple is together. Because married couples generally live together, the percentage of time together is much higher than in other relationships. But the fact that communication is happening much of the time does not mean that it is always positive or constructive communication. In fact, when many couples come in for counseling, they cite a lack of communication as a problem in their relationship. However, the problem is often not a lack of communication, but rather the quality and nature of the communication. When a husband comes home after a day at work, if he walks into the house, ignores his wife and kids, and goes straight to his room or somewhere else in the house, he may not have communicated anything verbally but the message he has communicated to his family is that he wants to be left alone and that they are not his priority at the moment.

Working through Conflict

Communication works best when it is executed as directly as possible, as calmly as possible, and with an eye toward productivity and construction rather than destruction. Fighting and conflict are inevitable in a relationship between two flawed individuals, but how the couple repairs damage done after a conflict is a key to the longevity and success of the relationship. In a therapeutic relationship, some of the best and most beneficial work is done when the therapist and client are able to repair damage done in the therapeutic relationship through direct, calm, and productive communication. The same is true in the marital relationship. A couple’s ability to be direct, honest, and open in their communication can mean the difference between happiness and hopelessness in marriage.

Fostering Intimacy and Alliance with Your Spouse

MATTHD 201410 MARRIAGEAnother key point in making a marriage work concerns intimacy and the need to maintain a healthy alliance with your spouse. Intimacy is multifaceted and has a lot to do with a healthy alliance, meaning that intimacy involves connection between partners. Emotional intimacy is what really drives physical intimacy. But emotional intimacy requires alliance because we have a hard time feeling safe enough to allow emotional intimacy if we don’t trust our partner. There are a number of things that help to encourage and promote emotional intimacy, but very few of these are common in our busy lives and experiences. Emotional intimacy is developed and increased when couples are intentional about communicating their commitment to one another and their appreciation, care, and respect for one another on a regular basis. If neither partner is being intentional about meeting the emotional needs of the other, isolation and misunderstandings become the norm.

Christian Counseling to Strengthen Your Marriage

Relationships are not easy and they require dedication. If you are experiencing a marriage that seems to be lacking some of these key components, seeking out a Christian counselor who can help you get your marriage back on track is extremely important. If Christians cannot maintain the symbol of Christ’s love for the Church in marriage, the true nature and purpose of marriage will continue to be diluted and twisted in our culture. If any of these things sound like your situation, I would love to have the opportunity to come alongside you and your spouse, and to work with the Holy Spirit to help bring hope and healing to your marriage.

“Couple In Disagreement,” By Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, ID: 10044364 merged with “The House Lately,” by Emily May, Flickr CreativeCommons, (CC BY 2.0); “Embracing Lovely Lovers Having Fun,” By photostock, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, ID: 10035169


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