s I was growing up, I was a pretty quiet kid. I didn’t say much, but I was always watching. In our church group, I paid special attention to one family. The husband had a sharp mind for business and was always trying something new. He and his wife led a bible study in their home every week for decades–theirs was the longest running group I was aware of. In addition, he ran a men’s group, and she ran a women’s group. They always seemed to be so in love, and have a great dynamic with their many kids. They inspired a lot of people and loved those people the way Jesus would. I was so happy to see when they announced on social media that they were celebrating 30 years of marriage. Then, a few months later, I got the most surprising news–they were getting divorced.
This blew my mind in many ways, broke my heart, and quite honestly scared me a little bit. If they, who from my perspective had it all together, could be getting a divorce, what hope did I have of getting past 30 years (or even getting close)? I started really looking into the longest-lasting marriages I could find to figure out what it took to stay married for life. Here’s what I found:
To have a marriage that lasts:
- Build and maintain a solid foundation in Christ
- Spend regular time in prayer as a couple
- Speak highly of each other
- Enjoy regular time together
- Forge an unrelenting commitment to each other
- Keep strong boundaries
- Humbly serve each other
- Own your struggles and get help
A recent Harvard study shows that attending worship weekly reduces the likelihood of divorce by 57% (p.10). This isn’t simply claiming Christianity, but physically attending worship with others weekly.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
According to Dr. David Stoop, couples who pray together regularly have a divorce rate of less than one percent. This is one of the most impactful things you can do for the long-term success of your marriage.
Maintain a habit of saying positive things about your spouse to your spouse.
Also, never cut your spouse down in front of others. It’s ok to talk with a trusted friend or counselor to get help with struggles, but this should be for the sole purpose of unity, not out of passive aggression. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing” (1 Peter 3:9a).
Any strong relationship takes time to build and maintain. Couples who spend regular, consistent time with each other, building their relationship, will feel much closer to each other.
If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married (Deuteronomy 24:5).
Marriage was valued to such a degree that the first year was dedicated to building a strong foundation as a married couple. Many of us may not be able to do this in our marriages today, so it’s even more important to build a strong foundation by spending regular time with one another.
From day one, realize that divorce is not an option. A Christian marriage is a covenant between a husband, a wife, and God.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
No marriage is beyond God’s healing if both spouses submit themselves regularly and completely to God.
Keeping a marriage intact often means needing to protect it from outside influences. This means both spouses avoiding situations where integrity could be compromised.
Loving someone who takes care of you is easy. By actively loving and serving your spouse and putting their needs first, you make it easy for your spouse to love you. If two spouses are completely focused on meeting the other’s needs, both will have their needs met and feel loved.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:3-7).
A Godly marriage calls us to seek to serve our spouse.
Every marriage struggles at some point. Those marriages that last are able to recognize the struggle, admit it and find help through the difficult times. This could mean talking to trusted friends, a strong Christian counselor, or a pastor. When we can humble ourselves and recognize that we need help, we are putting our marriage first, rather than our pride.
Any couple with two people who love, and are committed to, Jesus more than themselves will stay married as long as that remains true. As long as you keep God at the center and follow His design, you will find yourself in a satisfying marriage that will stand the test of time.
In a Christian marriage, we are called to assume an offensive strategy, taking the steps necessary to protect our marriage. God makes the plan clear. We just need to do our part.
Are there any other steps that you’ve seen lead to a lifelong marriage? Tell us in the comments below…