A letter to my daughter on her wedding day – five keys to a great marriage.
In just a few days my middle daughter, Lisa, is getting married. She and Otto are a wonderful match, and Jenni and I could not be more excited for their future.
Lisa has no doubt received all kinds of marriage advice from many people, but as her father and a champion for strong marriages I wanted to offer my own thoughts. I’ve struggled to condense down all I’ve written and read about marriage over the years to identify the essential keys that lead to an intimate, passionate and enduring marriage.
Here’s what I came up with.
The big day is approaching quickly! Amidst all the excitement and celebration I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts with you as you and Otto begin your marriage journey together. What follows is not a comprehensive list, but if you get these things right, it will go a long way to ensure you have a happy, healthy, intimate, passionate and enduring marriage.
1) Learn What Says “I Love You”
You and Otto have gotten to know each other pretty well through your dating years, but there is so much more you’ll discover as you become one in marriage. The most important thing for each of you to learn is what says “I love you” to the other. Trust me when I say that each of you will likely answer this question very differently. You may not “get” each other’s love needs, especially at first, but you don’t have to get them to do them.
It’s important to revisit this question regularly. You’ll want to be students of one another. It’s important to keep asking, especially in seasons of change or stress, “How can I best show you how much I love you?”
For this to work, you’ll both need to be transparent with your needs. Not in a demanding or selfish way, but in a way that helps each of you to love the other well.
2) Show Love Daily
Do something every day to communicate your love for each other. Be intentional about speaking and demonstrating love in ways that matter to the other. These don’t need to be grand or dramatic gestures. Small love expressions, given daily, will do more to sustain your marriage than big ones that only happen infrequently.
This means being intentional and watchful. It means keeping your marriage off of auto-pilot. Keep your eyes wide open and your hearts wide awake toward each other.
3) Practice Selflessness and Generosity
One amazing aspect of the two of you becoming one is that any time you bless the other, you also get to share in the benefit of that blessing. Learn to take delight in delighting each other with your love. Practice generosity and selflessness.
Give your love without condition and without the expectation of getting something in return. This is God’s kind of love. Practice giving love for love’s sake and for the sake of your marriage, rather than what you may get in return. But you will find that when you do this, the blessing does flow back to you.
4) Manage Your Expectations
It’s likely that you both carry many expectations into your marriage. For the most part it’s best to hold those expectations loosely. But there are two expectations that I encourage you to hold to steadfastly.
First is the expectation that this is a lifelong covenant you have together. It’s hard to imagine now, but there will likely be times ahead when you will need to be tenacious about this commitment you’ve made to each other.
Second, always believe and expect that the best days of your marriage are ahead of you. Regardless of how good (or how bad) things are, there is always more ahead. Deeper intimacy, more to know about each other, a stronger bond of trust, and grand new adventures are in front of you.
Always believe that God is for your marriage. He loves love. He is love. Press into him in prayer, both separately and together, for all you need to sustain and grow your marriage is found in him. Prayer for your marriage is a prayer he is eager to answer. And pray for each other, that you will walk in your true identities and that you will each fulfill your destiny in Christ.
There you have it. My short list of the essentials for a successful marriage. Just remember that, in the end, success in marriage isn’t about how many things you did right or wrong, but the level of intimacy (emotional, spiritual and physical) you share, because intimacy should be the ultimate goal of every marriage.
I Love You,
What “keys to a great marriage” would you add to my list if it were your daughter getting married? I’d love you to add your thoughts in a comment.