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How to Build a Marriage that Lasts

We’re in this thing for the long haul – that is, forever! That’s how my husband and I feel about our marriage. I hope you feel the same way about yours. Your vows may have included “Till death do us part”. Ours did. So we have to stay married until one of us kills the other, right? Tee hee.

But we should try to make this the most pleasant experience we can so that it is easier to keep our vows. Does that sound like a good idea?

Image source via Shutterstock
Image source via Shutterstock

I have some ideas gleaned from 25 years of marriage and many books I’ve read about marriage over the years for sustaining and enhancing the relationship that is known as marriage.

Is Your Marriage a Contract or a Covenant?

First of all, we need to understand what marriage really is. What does marriage mean to you? If you see marriage as a contract, then you will think of it as an agreement to do things for each other based on that. If someone does something for you then you do a good deed back because of it. Failure to do as promised means you have the legal right to cancel the contract and get out of the deal.

But if you see marriage as a covenant, then you make a commitment to fulfill what you promise to do, no matter what the other person does. So if you promise to love, honor, and cherish your mate, as long as you both shall live, then that is what you will do no matter what. Until death parts you.

In my opinion, a covenant is a better way to think about marriage. It’s better for the sake of the stability of the relationship and for the good of children that come into the family formed by the marriage.

In keeping the marriage covenant, you do your part to love and take care of your spouse, no matter what they do. You do what you promised to do. You have more incentive to be a person of integrity, and honor your word. You remember promising these things in front of your family, friends and your Creator. You uphold and honor the vows that you made on your wedding day, and they are of the utmost importance to you.

everlasting marriage

How to Maintain the Most Important Relationship In Your Life

If you hold this high view of marriage, then I have some tips to help you maintain the most important relationship in your life.

  1. Set your heart and mind to love

  2. Help and serve your mate, so that life is better for him or her. Check your motives. Make sure that you are not doing this selfishly; that you are not trying to get your own needs met or trying to manipulate him or her to do what you want. Do everything you do out of love for that other person. If your spouse is not treating you in a loving way, but you keep loving them and treating them tenderly, your behavior will convict them, and show them a better way.

  3. Do things together

  4. Spend time together. Have a real relationship. Find something you both enjoy doing, and make sure you’re doing it together regularly.

  5. Talk to Each Other

  6. Don’t be afraid to confront your mate if he or she is doing something that is unloving.* In love, tell your spouse what you want and need from him or her. Don’t let fear stop you. Be open about how you feel. Assume the best about your mate. Start from the belief that your spouse doesn’t realize that he or she is being selfish or hurting you.

  7. Forgive and ask for forgiveness

  8. This will probably be necessary many times each day. Try to keep your communication open and honest and clear. When misunderstandings and disagreements occur, do your best to clear them up in a calm, rational manner. If you keep the love flowing from your side, the odds of this happening will be much better.

  9. Honor, trust and expect the best from your mate

  10. Communication will be good and helpful if you honor and trust each other.

  11. Read lots of books about marriage

  12. In my opinion, the best books are based on biblical principles, because they have a solid, time-tested foundation. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to get counseling when you need it.

I hope you find these tips helpful. If you keep love as your main motivation for all that you do, you will be more likely to be able to live out these ideals.

Even if you can’t live them out perfectly, these are wonderful goals to aim for in your marriage.

As the years go by, you and your spouse will keep the love alive and build a marriage that lasts forever.

*If there is any abuse happening, by all means, seek counsel. When your mate is unreasonable and not treating you with love and respect, you should definitely get counseling. You should never allow physical abuse.

Penney Douglas

Penney Douglas

Penney Douglas is the mother of 10 children and wife of one husband, Gary. They are raising their lively clan in Texas. Penney is a former first grade teacher, now a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. She enjoys reading aloud to her children, watching caterpillars turn into butterflies and tadpoles turn into frogs, identifying birds, trees, and flowers, and learning everything she can about building good relationships. She prefers the term "Family Schooling" to describe what she does in her home. She writes about marriage, parenting, and family on her blog, Changed By Love. Soon to celebrate 26 years of marriage, she and her husband are still learning together how to build a strong marriage that will last forever.

26 comments

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  • What an awesome post I love to read this and this is so helpful too, It’s hard to maintain your marriage and it’s not always that both of you are okay sometimes you had an argument and etc. I love to read on how to hold and grow your relation and until the rest of my life.

  • These are great tips, and really they are all common sense. Having said that, when life gets busy we always take out our frustrations on the ones we love. We have to remember to do ALL of these on a regular basis in order to keep the spark alive!

  • This is a great post. Thanks for sharing it and all the information. Marriage is tough, but I always try to remember what my grandma told me. You have to take care of each other. it’s not one-sided. One person shouldn’t be doing all the work. Love this! 🙂

  • This is awesome advice. I never married but have watched my relatives and friends and sometimes wonder how they keep going. My cousin rules over her husband and I don’t know how he handles it. I have one friend who goes one way while her husband goes the other. I don’t know why they are still married, I guess it’s comfortable that way.

  • My husband and I have been married for 28 years and I would say it is definitely a covenant. I think contracts would be a good fit for people who live together. (A few couples come to mind). Forgiving is very important and we’ve never gone to bed angry with each other. 🙂
    Great post!

  • These are all wonderful tips for the married couple. Even after 22 years of marriage, I find that we continually need encouragement and reminders from marriage authors and mentors.

  • What a very powerful read. I love the recommendations you’ve suggested. Marriage used to mean something many years ago. Today, the values are not so much the same. I pray that when my kids get married, it is blessed to withstand whatever is thrown at them!

  • This is a great post with awesome advice. I was married for 9 yrs after 5 yrs of being together. Than we got divorced and have been together for a grand total of 25 yrs.. When we did get divorced we where only separated a couple of months. Us living apart works for us and it helps I live right down the street basically too. Thanks for sharing

    • Yes, I love that saying. It is a big part of the marriage relationship. It is such an intimate, vulnerable relationship that we must protect it through our attitudes and how we hold our hearts toward our mates.

    • I recently started reading “The Love Dare”, too. It has some really good information and ideas about how to keep the marriage relationship fresh and exciting and full of love and affection. It is a very good book to read on a consistent basis. Just reading it seems to have improved my attitude and outlook on my marriage.

    • I also really like the movie “Fireproof” which “The Love Dare” is based on. I have watched it many times. We own it and watch it from time to time, and my church had a marriage class based on “Fireproof” that helped us.

  • I am happily single, never been legally wed mainly because none of the guys I ever went out with or had a long term relationship with were ones I could picture myself with for life. I do believe in the sanctity of marriage. Those tips are good ones and should help married couples stay together till death do them part.

  • My husband and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary next year, and my parents will celebrate their 50th! In choosing to love the other first, ask forgiveness quickly and commit to the tough conversations when needed, we have grown closer through the years. Don’t tell the kids, but we look forward to them moving out of the nest! 😉

    ***If you’re in an abusive relationship, get to safety first. Decide on counseling once safe. The domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-7233.***

    • Thank you for adding that information. I agree completely.

      I’m happy for you and your husband and for your parents. It is so wonderful to hear about stable, happy marriages that are making it work!

  • Beautiful gentle reminder no matter how short or long have you been married. Agree on reading marriage books. My husband asked me to read Men are from Mars Women are from Venus a few weeks after we got married and I might have read something good for we’ve been together for 8 years now =)

    • It sounds like it was helpful. I haven’t read that book, but I’ve heard that it has helped a lot of men and women understand each other. The more we understand about how the other thinks, the better we will be at communicating and letting the other be himself without trying to change him to be like us. Reading good books like that has really helped me to become a better wife and be less focused on myself.

About Author

Penney Douglas

Penney Douglas

Penney Douglas is the mother of 10 children and wife of one husband, Gary. They are raising their lively clan in Texas. Penney is a former first grade teacher, now a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. She enjoys reading aloud to her children, watching caterpillars turn into butterflies and tadpoles turn into frogs, identifying birds, trees, and flowers, and learning everything she can about building good relationships. She prefers the term "Family Schooling" to describe what she does in her home. She writes about marriage, parenting, and family on her blog, Changed By Love. Soon to celebrate 26 years of marriage, she and her husband are still learning together how to build a strong marriage that will last forever.