The Top 5 Ingredients of a Great Marriage

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The Top 5 Ingredients of a Great Marriage

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Ask a hundred people, “How do you make a great banana split?” and they’d probably list the same core ingredients—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream nestled between the two halves of a banana, drizzled with chocolate syrup, crushed pineapple, whipped cream and topped off with one or more maraschino cherries. Depending on personal preference, some might lobby for a few spoons of wet walnut topping.

Ask a hundred people who loved to cook, “How do you make a great Alfredo sauce?” and I imagine their recipes would easily be boiled down to four or five core ingredients—sweet butter, heavy cream, shredded parmesan cheese, and a pinch of white pepper and garlic salt. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!Happily married.jpg

However, ask a hundred couples, “What are the top five ingredients necessary to make a great marriage?” and I dare say a consensus would be hard to come by.

In fact, I bet the answers wouldn’t roll off of their tongues so quickly, either. Keep in mind I’m looking for the core ingredients—things which go beyond the self-evident basics of “love,” “respect,” “trust” and “commitment.” Without them I highly doubt many people would ever make it to the altar in the first place.

Aside from those givens, how would you answer the question?

As you think about your response, let me add that this isn’t an academic exercise for me. If you’re familiar with my story, you know my parents didn’t have a “great” marriage. Far from it. In short, my mom decided to divorce my dad when I was almost five years old due to his unshakeable addiction to alcohol. Dad wasn’t the least bit happy about the news that Mom was going through with the divorce.

One night while Mom was at work and my siblings and I were home watching some television, Dad showed up. He was drunk and armed with a ball-peen hammer and a jug of burgundy wine. The fiery look in his eyes and the threats he spewed in slurs made it clear he had every intention of hurting my mother.

Staggering through the house looking for, yet not finding her home, Dad roared, “This is what I’m going to do to your mother!” Boom! He plowed the hammer into the wall blasting a giant hole where metal met drywall. The force of the blow seemed to rattle our house to the foundation—not to mention the damage it did to the five of us young kids who were praying they weren’t his next target.

Like I said, my parents didn’t have the kind of marriage that anyone would want to emulate.

Whether you’ve been married for a few months, years, or have celebrated your golden anniversary, I’d love to hear from you. What would make your top five list of essential ingredients for a marriage that thrives? Financial security? Regular date nights? Communication? Sexual intimacy? A spirit of forgiveness? Teachability? Praying together? Engaging in devotions as a  couple? Romantic getaways without the kids? Spontaneity?

Those are just a few ideas to get you started. If you’ve never done this before with your spouse, why not talk about it on your next date night? I’d love to know the outcome.

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  • Comment by  FILOMENA :


  • Comment by  Kathy L.:

    Using the Love Dare as a handbook would be a blessing. Also dropping your marriage on prayer lists. Knowing that many people are praying for your marriage is a great feeling.

  • Comment by  bluebird:

    How to keep a marriage together....humor!  Humor that only comes from spending time together, watching the same movies, reading similar or the same books, praying together, working on project together, cleaning up the dog mess or kids messes together, making messes, asking eachother if you heard a good joke today....

    My husband and I haven't been married as long as we want to be, only 17 years which pales in comparisonto my parents 42 years and my grandparents 67 years together.  but in our 17 years we have had some unique opportunities to intentionally grow our marriage.  My husband served as a US Marine for the last 22 years, (so he was married to the Corps before me ), he deployed on ship 3 times for 6 months each and to Iraq twice in the last 17 years.  These deployments don't inclued the training preperations which took him away for weeks and months at a time.  Needless to say, he was gone frequently.

    So when I say spend time together it takes an effort, make a choice to snuggle on the sofa and watch a movie rather than getting that one more thing done before bed, play cards rather than watch TV, read the Bible together in the morning before reading the paper or the email, traveling together to shop or go to a soccer game when one of you could be getting something else done.

    Arguements do flat tires and dirty diapers, we plan for those things in our lifes, why not an arguement.  My husband and I agreed years ago that when the argument happens 1. We aren't getting a is NOT an option!   2. Breathing space is necessary...he thinks faster than me and I talk faster, so we have a code word to step back and take a break (duck tape).  You trying saying "duck tape" in the middle of a heated discussion and see if you can keep from laughing just a is enough to lighten the situation and help us to realize we are both too intense.  Sometimes we really do go to our seperate corners and come back with a fresh perspective or new thoughts (the Holy Spirit helps with that).  3. When possible we pray before a discussion we know will be difficult. That is hard to do on only a 20 min. phone call from Singapore at 2 am, but we learned that it is vital!

    Humor and a plan for arguments, these are just two of the tools we use to intentionally build our marriage...

  • Comment by  Russell F.:

    Each time a young couple would get married in my last church, the pastor would get the married men of the church together, usually at the same time as the wome would do a bridle shower, and ask each man in the room to advise the young groom to that very thing.  We would get answers from every end of the spectrum; however, the most prevelant one would be that a happy marriage does not consist of a two relationship, but rather a three way one.  "If you want to have a strong marriage, you need to remember to Keep Christ at the center of that relationship."  My wife and I have been married nearly 12 years now and through all of it, we have tried very hard to keep this fact in focus.  It takes three to make a marriage strong, the husband, the wife and Jesus Christ at the center.  My wife has stood by my side through nearly four years of service in the Army, through youth ministry which had less than stellar results, and finally into the ministry to which I was called music.

    The next item, and this is not necessarily in any particular order other tha number one being keep Christ in the center, is an attitude of mutual honor and submission between the two of you.  Submission has gotten a very negative wrap in recent years because it has been incorrectly identified with someone lording over another, but, this is not God's way.  God commands us to obey Him and submit to Him in all that we do.  He commands that wives be submissive to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.  Now before I get torn apart, let me explain.  As a church we are to look to Christ as our spiritual head, and in the same manner the wife is to look at her husband as her spiritual head.  The same instruction goes further to command the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave his life for the church.  So, this submission is to be amodel of the chuirch as Christ set it up.

    Another important factor to consider is to keep communications open at all times.  Neither member of the couple should ever be afraid to approach the other when they need to talk or cry or vent.  Face it men, our wives have a role in our lives to help us with what needs done.  When marriage was instituted in the garden by God, remember men, God created Eve to be a helper to Adam in the garden.  So men, and women, communicate with one another.

    I could also interject, that when we first got married, a dear friend of mine gave my wife and I a couples devotional book, so our marriage started out on the right foot.  I would say that bible study together is very definitely an important factor in keeping a marriage strong.  Finally, I would recommend that marriages are kept strong by worshipping together weekly at whatever church God has led the two of you to join TOGETHER.

  • Comment by  tim and anne :

    What would make your top five list of essential ingredients for a marriage that thrives? 1- Understanding and living out God's original creational design for marriage. A key ingredient to a thriving marriage is understanding forgiveness. We believe forgiveness is the oil that helps with the inevitable friction that occurs in every relationship. 2- Advancing in Spirit Oneness- both the husband and wife passionately commit to grow in relationship with God and each other. This includes making prayer a foundational marital building block.3- Advancing in Soul Oneness- make it a top priority to grow in intimacy- in knowing and being fully known. Invest in becoming "BFF's" (best friends forever)4- Advancing in Body Oneness- God is pro-sex! An essential ingredient for marriages to thrive is to understand and celebrate God's design for Body Oneness. This includes; celebration, procreation, protection, pleasure, and comfort. In addition, couples must advance in understanding the worship and warfare components to a healthy God honoring marital sex life.5- LOVE is a simple word- but choosing to love your spouse becomes the doorway to step out of the Smaller-Story where 'self' is the main character, and instead live in the Larger-Story where 'God' is the main character

    ...after 33 years of living through both the joys and heartaches of "two becoming one" God's grace we continue to focus on living in covenant with God and each other. Marriage is so much bigger than 'tim+anne' (or any husband and wife). We believe marriage has unlimited and untapped potential to advance God's kingdom.