What Is the Secret to a Great Marriage?

A Daily Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

Today’s Little Lesson is especially for people who are married or people who want to get married. Is there a secret to having a great marriage? I think that there is. I’ve been married for 38 years and I think I have a great marriage. If I was going to break it down as to why, of course I’ve got a great wife. That’s it. But what makes her so great? Have I helped out at all in this equation?

Happy married couple on the beach - What is the secret to a great marriage?

What makes my wife so great is that she is so unselfish. She endeavors to let me know that she loves me and appreciates me. That makes me feel loved and that makes me feel appreciated. And then naturally I want to reciprocate back to her with love and appreciation as well. It becomes a non-vicious cycle where you sow love and you reap it. When you reap it, you want to sow more.

The Biggest Hindrance to a Great Marriage

We’ve seen, of course, that vicious cycle: the opposite of what I’m talking about works exactly in reverse. People get married. Obviously they’re in love. They think they have every chance of success. But then something goes wrong and there’s that death spiral that starts. Sometimes it goes on for years. It’s a vicious circle that feeds itself.

People say, “Well, I’m not getting what I want. She’s not doing what I want her to do. She’s not the way I want her to be or he’s not doing what I want, and I want to get my way.” They start complaining about that and telling other people what’s wrong. Then they justify themselves and they start telling their spouse what’s wrong with them.

This feeds on itself and it just builds up layers and layers and layers of hurt and scars, wounds that sometimes just fester for a long time. When sharp words are spoken, they can have an effect for a long time. The only way to undo those sharp words, by the way, is to ask for forgiveness and try to do better from then on.

Reversing the Vicious Cycle

You can reverse the vicious cycle to the non-vicious cycle at any point in time. The deeper you are in the death spiral of a bad marriage, it does take a little time to get back out of it. But it’s very, very, very possible by simply reversing what you’re doing.

Instead of finding fault, find what’s good in that person. Instead of criticizing, start complimenting. Instead of ignoring, start paying attention. Instead of being insensitive, start being sensitive.

You say, “But what if they don’t change?” Again, as long as you have that mentality, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You have to go into this with all the faith that you have and say to yourself, “No matter what this person does, whether they react rightly or wrongly, I’m going to be unselfish. I’m going to prove that I love them. I’m going to be a servant.”

I think I can pretty much assure you that your spouse will see the difference. They might not come around the first day or the second day, but eventually they’ll come around.

An Unexpected Change to a Terrible Marriage

I heard a story years ago about a woman who was at the bottom of that death spiral in her marriage, so she went to see a counselor.

She said, “I’m getting ready to divorce my husband but I hate this guy. Even though I thought I loved him when we got married, I hate him, and he’s hurt me so badly. I don’t want to kill him but I do want to get some revenge. What do you suggest?”

The counselor said, “Well, what you ought to do if you really want to make it hurt is just start serving him and start loving him and complimenting him, and being as kind as you possibly can to him. Then, when you divorce him, he’ll realize, ‘Oh my goodness, what am I losing? This wonderful woman who serves me and loves me so much!'”

She rubbed her hands together. What a great plan! You probably can already figure out how this story ends, but I’m going to tell it to you anyway.

She goes home, she starts complimenting her husband, finding the good in him, serving him in ways large and small, being sensitive to him, not saying negative things anymore. Even when he was insensitive, she would just overcome evil with good and keep working according to the plan.

That counselor saw her a few weeks later on the street somewhere and said, “Well I guess it’s all over now. How did the jerk take it when you finally broke the news to him that you were going to divorce him?”

She said, “What are you talking about? Jerk? I’m married to the greatest man on the planet!”

Change Your Spouse by Changing Yourself

What’s the moral of the story here? She was able to change him by changing herself.

If you want to know where to start off on this advice, tomorrow morning when you wake up, say to your spouse, “What one thing can I do for you today that would prove my love for you? Tell me and I’m going to do it.” Then do it.

Or if you want to take a bigger challenge, just say, “If there’s one thing you’d change about me, what would it be? Because I love you and I want to please you.” Then listen, see what your spouse says and work on changing.

As they see your effort, they’re going to take notice. You’re going to reap what you have sown. I guarantee it. I’ve observed this enough times over my adult life and other people’s lives.

When you sow unselfishness, you reap unselfishness. That’s what makes marriages that are made in heaven. It’s two people who really aren’t in it for themselves. They’re in it for the their spouse but they’re reaping marvelous benefits because of that decision to be unselfish.

Okay, that’s today’s little lesson. Thanks for joining me! Till next time, God bless you.