5 Less Talked About Secrets of a Strong Marriage

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I’ve heard a lot of marital advice and read a slew of books on the subject through the years. I’m certainly not claiming to have it all figured out or to have the perfect marriage. But as a Christian woman happily married for nearly 29 years and with the same man for 31 years, I’ve learned a thing or two. I refer to them as “secrets” only because the power they possess are often not given enough credit or possibly ignored.

Most of us know the biggies: love, faithfulness, effective communication, sex, and similar perspectives about money.

But before getting to the less talked about ones, I think it’s important to say something about the most important aspect of a strong marriage: Jesus Christ. He must be at the center. After all, marriage was God’s idea. He designed marriage to be between a man and a woman to meet our need for companionship and to provide an illustration of our relationship with Him.

“Everything else falls into place when daily we seek His face.”

Now that we’ve covered that, here are the less talked about secrets that help to keep a marriage strong.

Ready? Here we go …

1. Embrace Each Other’s Weirdness

I’m referring to idiosyncrasies. You know, those distinctive and peculiar behaviors that are characteristic of an individual.

Here’s an example. My husband is kind of a germaphobe, but only with certain things. When he gets home, one of the first things he must do is roll up his sleeves and wash his hands for several minutes. Seriously, you’d think he’s a doctor about to perform surgery. Oh, and if you’re sick or even think you’re coming down with a cold, don’t come over. On the other hand, his office and his car are a dusty mess. His rationale: just leave the dust alone—don’t disturb it and it won’t disturb you.

I have my weird things too. My kids think I’m a neat freak. And I’ll admit, my house is clean. But if you go into my closet (or any closet or drawer) in the house, you will see a hidden mess.

Here’s the point. I have sat with many couples who have allowed these seemingly little weirdness’s to develop into a great source of contention in their marriage. On the other hand, when acknowledged, tolerated and even embraced, idiosyncrasies can be a great bond in marriage.

We are all sort of weird, right? When our weirdness mixes with someone else, it’s a comfort and a bond.

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” ~Dr. Seuss

2. Practice the 5 to 1 Ratio

This means that your relationship averages at least five times more positive interactions than negative interactions.

This doesn’t mean you must count every single positive and negative. It is, however, a good barometer.

There have been some very convincing studies done on the 5 to 1 ratio.

In strong marriages, there are at least five times more positive interactions than negative ones. When the ratio starts to drop, the marriage is at high risk for divorce.

“Be kindly affectionate to one another … in honor giving preference to one another.” Romans 10:12

3. Respect Each Other’s Needs, Likes, and Dislikes

This goes hand-in-hand with embracing each other’s weirdness. We all have certain things that annoy us. We also have those things that really float our boat. God made all of us wonderfully unique which means even though we are “one” as a couple, we don’t always have the same likes and dislikes. However, we must respect our spouse’s uniqueness.

God also created us with a love language—how we as an individual feel and receive love. In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, we discover that not all people have the same love needs. If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it. It’s great not just for marriage but for all relationships.

4. Forgive Quickly

Most of us know the passage from Ephesians 4:26 “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”  But knowing it and putting it into practice are two different things.

Something I have learned is feelings of forgiveness follow the choice to forgive.

Often, we make it the other way around. This is not what scripture teaches. It instructs us to make mending broken relationships a priority, even urging us to stop other activities in order to address conflict (Mathew 5:23-24). Why? God knows it’s the lingering that leaves us open to great damage such bitterness.

Forgiveness is an action made in the midst of negative feelings, making it a beautiful expression of love. We can still be hurt, upset, and angry while making a choice to forgive. This doesn’t mean we pretend not to be upset or disappointed. Choosing to forgive quickly says, “let’s not allow this to contaminate the rest of the relationship. Let’s created a space for this openly and honestly and move forward.”

5. Guard Your Thoughts

Our thoughts are a powerful force. The wrong kind of thinking can do profound harm to your marriage. “He doesn’t look at me the way he used to,” “I can’t take much more of this,” “We can always get a divorce,” “So-and-so at work listens better than my wife,” This kind of thinking is a dangerous slippery slope because what we think often becomes our actions.

If you find yourself stuck in a negative thought pattern in relation to your marriage, here’s something I find help.

Replace every negative with a positive. Write them down. “He doesn’t help me enough with the kids.” Turns to, “He loves our children and plays with them while I cook.”

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Having a strong marriage takes daily effort and must not be taken for granted. None of us are immune to struggles or even a divorce. We must fight to keep our marriage strong the way the Lord intended it to be.

Do you have something to add to the list? I’d love to hear your comment below.

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19 thoughts on “5 Less Talked About Secrets of a Strong Marriage

  1. Beckie, all these tips are spot-on, but the one I find myself embracing the most is “accepting each other’s weirdness.” We are all unique and different, and there will be those little things our spouse does that don’t quite mesh with our expectations. Danny is a great one for leaving drawers/cabinets not fully closed after he’s searched for something. I just smile, and do the closing myself. He is also a stickler, like your husband, for cleanliness, but dusting the house? He could care less! Lol!
    When we met over E-Harmony many years ago, our profile matched in the most important way. What took priority in both of our lives was in this order: God, Family, Friends. And we have discovered over the 12 and a half years of marriage, that putting the Lord first places any contention on the back-burner. Love wins!
    Blessings, dear friend!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Martha, I put “Embracing each other’s weirdness” as number one because it really resonates with me 🙂
      I’m so glad that you found Danny, a man whose priorities match God’s: God, Family, Friends. May the Lord continue to bless you both with many, many more years together!
      Thanks for your kind comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Beckie – truly love this one, especially number one. In order for our marriage to work, I have to embrace Angie’s weirdness (lol). You have met her and know what I’m talking about.
    Of course you know I am joking. But she, like me, has little quirks I find cute and adorable. We embrace our odd characteristics which makes us unique and love each other more. I appreciate your post and will share.
    Keep up the good and Godly work.
    Del 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Your reflection is important and inspiring, thank you!

    “Jesus Christ. He must be at the center.”

    There are so many variables, or rather, they are infinite variables that only the Lord Jesus can equilibrate and administer the result, having as principle and goal the good of all, in movement and within the time of each one.

    Everything that concerns the Lord Jesus is pertinent to the good. These aspects are intrinsic: good in principle and its vital relevance.

    Civilization has already solved many questions of practical life to deal with everyday matters. And faith in good is the guiding thread of life, in its multiple aspects: health, love, work, study, family and society and relationships.

    With our faith honestly anchored in Christ, we can reflect the good in our lives, because the Lord is the source of virtue. And it is a blessing for those who believe, the rest and shelter of faith.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Carlos, what a beautiful insight. I couldn’t agree with you more, Christ must be the anchor in order for anything we do to produce fruit that is lasting. Everything done without Him produces nothing of real value.
      Thank you for taking the time to respond. I know others will be blessed by your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beckie, in my sixty-eight years of life on this earth, forty eight of those years married (to the same man), I have read many articles on marriage and this is one of the best yet. Thank you for this insightful and practical post. I’ll be sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent list! Couldn’t agree with you more. Two things came to mind as I was reading your insightful post. When I read the “5 to 1 Ratio” I did a little self check, just to make sure we’re on track. As a couple, and a family, we laugh together (not at each other) a lot! Humor is very important in our relationship. And I was also thinking how guarding our thoughts leads to guarding our tongues. Sometimes the prevalence of spouse-bashing saddens me. It can’t be healthy for a marriage. Thanks for taking time to pass on your pearls of wisdom.

    Like

    • Michelle, I love what you’ve added. Yes, humor and watching what we say is so important. We laugh a lot too. It helps ease the tensions of this crazy life we lead. We need to laugh (in a good way) at ourselves too.
      Thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom!
      May the Lord bless you with many wonderful years of marriage.

      Like

  6. Beckie, Thanks for this wonderful post. I wish I had read this early in my marriage–might have saved me a lot of heartache! All five are spot-on, but Forgive Quickly really spoke to me. I’ve finally learned to do this and it’s made a world of difference in our marriage. Holding a grudge hurts both partners, forgiveness helps both, particularly the “forgiver.” One strategy that has helped me in recent years (took a long time for me to learn this lesson, too) is knowing when to keep my mouth shut. An earlier comment mentioned “guarding the tongue.” We not only need to be very careful what we say and how we say it (tone of voice makes a big difference in how our words are perceived). But, we also need to know when to not say anything at all. We can’t take back the words, once they leave our mouth. Think before we speak–how is what I’m about to say going to help?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katherine, thank you for your kind words. You bring up an excellent point about having the wisdom to discern when it’s best to say nothing. We have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
      May the Lord bless you!

      Like

    • Heather, I’m so glad this was helpful. I try to use what my dad called “the sandwich” approach. The top slice of bread starts with something positive, next a loving critique and the bottom slice of bread is another positive. I know that’s 2 positives and a critique, but this is another thing I try to use. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

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