My younger brother got married a few years ago. It was a typical church wedding, which meant that the minister who was marrying them inevitably gave a sermon. And it was a good one. By this, I mean I remember the outline of it three and a half years later. And I can't remember that much about any sermon I've heard since, frankly.
The title of the sermon was, "The Three Ingredients of a Successful Marriage". I remember my exact, admittedly cynical thoughts upon hearing that announcement. My first impression: Yawn. Then I thought, "Yeah, yeah?'Love, Trust, and Commitment', right? Or being friends with each other.
Or something else I've heard before." How wrong I was. Going through a divorce at the time, what that minister proceeded to present was a gift beyond price.
The three "ingredients" turned out to be anything but the trite, usual drivel we've all heard before. In fact, they are all but secret to most of us. Today, it is my pleasure to take those three secrets and impart them to you-albeit with my own spin, of course. 1) Always Think The Best Of Each Other Basically, the concept here is that both spouses should gravitate towards the positive options when considering each other's intentions, actions, whereabouts, etc. If s/he says something that could have two meanings, assume the positive one.
If s/he says s/he is "working late", believe it. Yeah, I realize this is all about "trust", but it's much deeper. It's more like having the self-esteem to be confident in one's choice of a spouse?enough to believe that s/he has the best interests of both partners in mind. What an amazing gift this is.
And you know what, I would tend to believe this is an attitude that falls under the "self-fulfilling prophecy" department. 2) Forgive Quickly There is absolutely, positively zero chance that a long, successful marriage is going to be 100% free of mistakes having been made over the long haul. Hell?over the short haul, either, for that matter. And when they happen, just let it go.
This is disarmingly important. See, if this isn't done, there ends up being a "cumulative effect of all the small things". Don't ask me why that's in quotes-you don't want to know. Let's just say it leads to divorce. Let me ask you this: Assuming you have a "significant other", has there ever been an argument where one or both partners brought up something that happened weeks, months or even YEARS ago? Yeah, well? then that's what has to be addressed here.
There wasn't ever any true forgiveness if that's going on. Now, I'm not talking about forgiving major, real breaches of covenant here as covered in a previous newsletter. There's a different concept at play here, and I think you get my drift. If you don't, email me right away for some coaching! 3) Never Compare Your Spouse To Others Hey, guess what? If you have a partner, and didn't "settle", and KNEW THAT FACT from the start, then you've got a GOOD ONE. After the "honeymoon" is over, and you have gotten to know your partner really well, it's easy (but pathetic) to forget that and incredibly tempting-and oh so easy-to start with the, "Why can't you be more like X?" stuff.
Well, resist that temptation and DON'T. Beyond the simple fact that it betrays trust, makes both of you feel inferior to someone else (Did he say "both of you"??uh, yeah I did.), and is just flat-out "dirty pool", it MAKES NO SENSE.
Look, here's the deal: Anyone you are comparing your significant other to is 1) someone you do not know as deeply, and are therefore more easily able to "idealize", and 2) someone you likely haven't known as long, and is therefore "novel" to you. So, the comparisons aren't fair at all, let alone comprehensive. If you've got a good partner, rejoice-and don't make comparisons that will throw water on, if not outright kill your relationship.
If you don't feel you have a good partner, change that if you are unmarried and get to where you DESERVE WHAT YOU WANT instead; or if you are married, get the help you need to get the relationship to where it needs to be. A few weeks ago I was talking to my brother on the phone. I asked him if he remembered what the minister preached about at his wedding. Indeed, he did.
Does that somehow correlate to the fact that he and his bride are still blissfully married three and a half years later-with an excellent prognosis for the future? I think so. In six days my brother, who has since gone on to be a minister in his own right, will be the officiant at our wedding when Emily and I get married. I'm looking forward to the sermon.
Scot McKay's dating strategies are found at http://www.deservewhatyouwant.com/. Stop by right now and grab a FREE e-book ($20 value) when you sign up for the X & Y Communications Newsletter, which is always packed with unique and practical dating tips.