In a few weeks, my husband and I will have been happily married for fifteen years.
Which has got me thinking–What is the secret behind a lifelong successful marriage?
Not that we have a perfect marriage or have it all figured out, but after fifteen years, I've been asking myself, “Why do we have a good marriage?” What's been working? And what can we change to make it even better?
I think it all boils down to two words.
Successful Marriages Understand What True Love Is (and Isn't)
As a young wife, I definitely fell into the trap of wanting to change my husband. I didn't like how he acted sometimes, and I thought it was my job to help him see that and change it.
Yeah, that didn't go over so well.
And then–because I was such a wise wife–I also thought he needed to grow spiritually, so I was sure to remind him (frequently) of the ways he “should” be serving and leading our family.
While both of those things were noble pursuits (and perhaps even my way of “loving” him), I discovered this:
Our marriage got a lot better when I started to understand what true love is.
You know, true love. Not the made-up, distorted, fantasy love that the media promises; but instead the giving, breaking, putting-you-first kind of love.
The kind of love that isn't just about chocolate heart candies and a bouquet of flowers once a year for Valentine's Day.
It's the kind of love that melts hearts, and sustains lifelong marriages through beautiful, everyday sacrifice.
True Love in Action? A Great New Book Shows Us How
True love is a dance that begins the moment we first meet our spouse. The “music” behind the “dance” changes through the dating, engaged and married years. And yet, so many of the “dance steps” really stay the same, don't they?
There's a new book called Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage: 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance by Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley that describes this beautiful dance. The book shares how when couples can understand–and live out–the true meaning of love with each other, successful, lifelong happy marriages are built.
While the book outlines twelve “romance secrets,” each of them are rooted in the same concept: true love. The successful marriage tips mentioned are based on consistent love in action (not love as an emotional high).
I really like that these twelve marriage secrets are based on God-given needs that we all have, and how we can use the true meaning of love to turn around the everyday problems of marriage.
Although author Dr. Greg Smalley is the main voice throughout the Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage book, (which is published by Tyndale and Focus on the Family), there are several call-outs throughout the chapters called “Erin's Perspective” which adds his wife Erin's voice to the conversation (which is so helpful).
This awesome book also has great inspirational quotes inserted throughout the chapters. Plus, you can download a free book discussion guide, free marriage assessment and free date night ideas at CrazyLittleThingCalledMarriage.com. Love this!
What Everyday True Love Looks Like In My Marriage
I think the Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage authors would agree that each day we're all given the ability to live out the meaning of true love simply through our everyday marital choices.
And then when we're able to practice these choices regularly, these become powerful habits that can radically reshape a marriage and regularly win the heart of our spouse.
True love simply says, “What do you need, and how can I help right now in this situation?”
It doesn't have to be groundbreaking. When I'm serving up the plates at dinner, God told me a long time ago to always give my husband the best looking plate, whether that was the one with the most, or the one that just looked best.
God also told me that the best way to support my work-from-home husband was to check on him in his office from time to time to make sure he has breakfast, fresh coffee, etc.
Here's one that's happening today: As I type this, I'm suffering through a head cold, and my amazing husband volunteered to take our kids to their big event today 45 minutes away and to pick them up.
He also offered to stop by the store while he was out (we are in desperate need of food basics today and I just can barely get off the couch).
That, my friends, is true love. It's how my dear husband is loving me today (and growing our marriage).
And in my opinion, these are the type of everyday loving actions that build lifelong successful marriages.
Allowing True Love to Build Your Lifelong Successful Marriage
The most beautiful thing about true love? We don't have to wait for the other person to do it. We can begin bringing true love into our marriages right now, today.
We can make tiny choices right now that move us toward habits and actions that transform our marriage.
True love consists of actions that make our spouse feel more loved (instead of choosing to make ourselves feel more loved).
Try it today and watch your marriage change!
FTC Disclosure: I was compensated by Tyndale House Publishers for my time in writing this piece. However, all opinions stated here are 100 percent mine, and I was not required to post a positive review of the Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage book.