ID-10060143By Dr. Harold Sala

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?  Amos 3:3, NIV

Question: Is it possible to “write the story of “us” so that your marriage has a happy ending? In other words, what does it take to live happily ever after. Vast numbers have given up on marriage, believing that it just doesn’t work anymore. I’m thinking of a small ad that was tacked to a bulletin board near a mailbox in an apartment:  “Wedding dress, size 9, worn once—by mistake.”

To write the story of your marriage with a happy ending demands that you learn how to communicate and give each other the right to convey deep feelings and emotions.

Simply put, you drop your armor and become vulnerable, letting the other see inside. Tough? Yes, especially for men who think that to reveal what they are really thinking or fearing makes them weak. Defining intimacy as “into-me-see” is not easy, because we fear rejection, anger from the other, and, certainly, criticism.   Effective communication is a window to conflict resolutions, and no matter how great a marriage you may have, sooner or later you will do something that will be offensive to your mate, and that issue will drive a wedge between you. Conflict never destroys a relationship; it is the refusal to resolve an issue, the refusal to find middle ground, and the arrogance and pride that keeps you from saying, “I’m sorry; forgive me. I didn’t intend to hurt you.”

When two people marry, they bring a lot of baggage—like what? Like the culture you grew up with, how your parents related to each other, who made decisions, along with the DNA that makes your personality unique. Don’t keep score, waiting for your turn to get even. Don’t sleep on difficulties. Don’t expect your husband to respond to you as your dad did to your mother. Try this for a starter. Instead of pointing your finger and saying, “You…,” say, “When you do [whatever], this is how I feel.”

If you want to write the story of your marriage so that it has a happy ending, have fun together. Troubled marriages are different in thousands of ways, but marriages with happy endings have many things in common, and among them is the fact that two people enjoy each other, find things that both like and do them, whether it is sports, music, service, the outdoors, reading, or opera (yes, a few people do like opera).

Meeting each other’s needs—emotionally, spiritually, and physically—is a vital ingredient of marriage with a happy ending.

Time allows me to address only one facet of this. Your husband or wife has three emotional needs: (1) To give and receive love; (2) To feel worthwhile to himself and others, and (3) a measure of security that comes with the realization that your marriage is secure, your husband or wife is trustworthy. Our failure to meet each other’s needs often creates a vacuum that results in someone else meeting those needs—which leads to a very unhappy ending to your marriage. The kind of love that binds your hearts together and becomes an impregnable fortress that closets you together, is an unconditional commitment to the one you married, that comes with the realization you will sacrifice yourself in providing for the other, and together you will trust God to take you through the tough times and show you His strength and power.

Some think that marriage has been tried and found lacking; no, it has been tried and found challenging.  But for those who sublimate their selfishness and commit themselves completely to the other, it is the most satisfying and fulfilling kind of relationship that exists. And why not? God was the one who said, “It is good!”