Building a Marriage // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

MarriageA report from the Family Research Institute on the State of Marriage in Wisconsin reported that 70% of people believe that the institution of marriage is weaker than it was 20 years ago. Statistics prove the case. In the 1930’s, 1 out of 7 marriages ended in divorce. In the 1960’s it was 1 out of 4. This year, it is predicted that at least half of the marriages will not survive.

Each year, more than 200,000 new marriages end prior to the second anniversary. Around half of recently married couples expressed doubts as to whether their marriage union will last. 49% of these reported serious marriage problems.

What can be done to stem the tide and turn marriage back around? How can we build marriages that last?

The first step to building stronger marriages is to start the relationship on the right foot.

Most ministers in our community require extensive pre-marital counseling. Although some couples seem to view this as an annoyance — it is vital to building a positive foundation for the marriage. There are many excellent resources and tests which measure compatibility and the potential difficulties the couple may encounter. It’s best to know these things ahead of time.

Many helpful books have been written for engaged couples such as Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Les Parrott and Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey. These texts help couples dig deep relationally, and address such areas as conflict resolution, money, sexual issues, and communication.

Starting on the right foot does not include living together before you’re married. Contrary to what some may think, cohabitation sharply increases the odds of divorce. We were created to be married first — and then to live together. Not the other way around. When people get the cart before the horse, it causes trouble in the relationship.

Secondly, couples must keep a realistic view of the relationship. Marriage is the imperfect union of two imperfect people relating imperfectly. No wonder so many people have struggles in marriage!

Sometimes, people are disappointed when life together does not resemble a Hollywood romance. Marriages might be made in heaven, but they have to be worked out here on earth!  The vows, “for better and for worse” were put in there on purpose. The commitment of marriage has to be big enough to include the “worse”. If it doesn’t, the relationship quickly disintegrates.  Love, according to Bible, bears all things. This includes annoyances, conflicts and pet peeves.  Nobody has a perfect marriage — but a really good marriage is within the reach of every couple that makes the commitment and pays the price.

Thirdly, intimacy is built through meeting your partner’s emotional needs.

Willard Harley’s excellent book, His Needs, Her Needs points out the importance of making deposits in your spouse’s “love tank.” This is the way to keep the sense of closeness. His web site, is very helpful for couples desiring to build a deeper relationship.

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Hayward, WI 54843

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