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Lesson: Keys to a Happy Marriage

God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden
of Eden as the first married couple. Marriage is ordained
and established by God, and He includes keys to a happy
marriage in the Bible.

Consider this story about a happily married couple in North


"As I write, my wife and I are about to celebrate 35 years

of marriage.

"We actually met as teenagers because we attended the

same church. When we became young adults, we were at a
church convention where I asked her for a date. That first
date was an epic one. We drove two hours to tour New York
City instead of a local Pennsylvania mountain waterfall attraction as we had first planned.

"Over time we began to realize how much we enjoyed each other's company and knew we were
'growing' in love.

"After we got married, we encountered many of the typical newlywed challenges, including the
financial ones, but we managed to make ends meet.

"Before long, our son was born and brought us incredible joy, as did his sister who was born four years
later. I settled down into what was to be a 31-year career in hospital financial administration, and my
wife worked part-time as a substitute teacher and then as a clerical worker.

"Today, our children are grown, and we have four beautiful grandchildren. We own a home in the
Piedmont area of North Carolina, and I'm now serving wonderful people as their pastor.

"You might be thinking, 'That's your beautiful, inspiring love story? There's nothing interesting about
that!' That's right! To you, the reader, it might seem meaningless, but to my wife and me that's the
brief outline of 35 years of a happy marriage. These represent years that are filled with countless
stories and memories that we cherish, things that would mean nothing to you but everything to us.
The point is there is no 'magic formula' to pattern your life after that will lead to a happy marriage.
Married couples are each unique with their own hopes and dreamstheir own special circumstances in
life that make them who they are."

Share Your Story

God Must Be Involved in Your Marriage

For a marriage to be happy and successful for life, the husband and wife must include God as a
partner in their marriage. They must acknowledge God as Supreme in their lives and together yield to
what God instructs in the Bible about marriage. The marriage will fail if it is based on self-gratification
and pleasure.

Is God really involved in marriage?

Malachi 2:14
Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your
youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by

Mark 10:7-9
"'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall
become one flesh'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined
together, let not man separate."

Marriage is a covenant that includes God! Many marriage ceremonies include words such as, "Do you
faithfully promise and covenant with God, in the presence of these witnesses to take..." If we
covenant with God, then this makes marriage on a far higher plane than simply agreeing to live
together legally as husband and wife. It means we willingly submit to the role God must play in the
marriage. We will live by His rules.

What's the purpose of marriage?

Ephesians 5:31-33
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall
become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that
she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5 reveals how marriage is a type of the incredible love relationship between Jesus Christ
and His Bride, the Church. No love could be greater! The Bible is the ultimate love story when
understood in its overall concept and purpose.

What is true love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does
not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity,
but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love
never fails...

Love isn't just a feeling of passionate desire for your lover and the unbearable thought of being apart.
True love is based on outgoing concern for your partner. It's about self-sacrifice for the good of the
one you love.

In every marriage, things go wrong. What if the problem is not my fault?

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Philippians 2:3-5
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem
others better than himself.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

1 Thessalonians 5:15
See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves
and for all.

Over time, seemingly insignificant irritations can get blown out of proportion, and before long, couples
say or do things that are offensive to each other. The result? Arguments, conflict and, all too often,
shouting matches.

It is often very difficult to see our own faults. We're always right in our own eyes, so we naturally
place the blame on our partner. This mind-set started way back in the Garden of Eden when Adam
blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12-13).

But even if it really is not our fault, loudly insisting the other person take all the blame is not helpful.
The optimal solution instead involves seeking peace, not revenge (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:17-21). It
involves seeking win-win strategies. The Bible shows that sometimes our good actions can, over time,
win over our mate (1 Peter 3:1).

Ideally, both partners will eventually work together to solve their problems. Well-known marriage
counselor H. Norman Wright offers the following advice: "Some negative ways of dealing with conflict
are withdrawing, winning, yielding, and compromising. The ideal way of dealing with conflict is by
resolving the conflict. It may take longer, but the relationship is then strengthened and needs are met
on both sides" (So You're Getting Married, 1985, p. 199).

What should we say to help heal our relationships?

Psalm 51:1, 10 (New Living Translation)

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out
the stain of my sins...
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.

Ephesians 4:32
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her...

Titus 2:4 (New Living Translation)

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children.
When we sin, first we must repent and become right with God. Then we can seek His help in restoring
the relationship.

In every marriage relationship, there are several phrases that can help heal the damage that has been
done due to conflicts and arguments. Three key phrases are listed below.

1. "I'm sorry." Use this one often, and mean it! Tell your spouse you're sorry for saying or doing the
thing that has upset him or her. Whether you were right or wrong, it doesn't matter; your actions have
had a negative impact on the spouse you love, and you should apologize for that.

2. "I forgive you." Jesus Christ died to forgive us of our sins. His great sacrifice should motivate us to
be willing to forgive others.

3. "I love you." When said sincerely, this declaration cannot be overused. We need to know we are
loved by the person we love. This short, sincere phrase, backed by loving actions, can put to rest all of
our negative feelings, hurts, resentments and faults and can melt the heart of the one hearing these
three beautiful words.

Can the Flame Burn Again?

Some may feel like the romance and excitement is long gone in their marriage. They stay together for
convenience or for the sake of the children or other family members. But, as the well-known song
asks, "Where is the love?"

Can my marriage really be happy?

Proverbs 5:18-19
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.
As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured
with her love.

Ecclesiastes 9:9
Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under
the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform
under the sun.

Yes, your marriage can be happy! The Bible reminds us that a wife is a blessing from God and tells
husbands to "bring happiness" to their wives, starting from the first year of the marriage (Proverbs
18:22; Deuteronomy 24:5). To achieve happiness, it's important to keep the perspective that it's not
"my" marriage but "our" marriage. The two of you are in this together and need to work together to
bring life and energy back to the marriage if it has been lost.

If you've been married a few years, find ways to rekindle the spark that led to your marriage in the
first place. What attracted you to your spouse? Why did you get married? Try dating your spouse

Our helpful booklet Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension explains: "Some marriage
partners have rekindled this desire by asking God for a loving, humble attitude and doing things to
show love to their mate, even when they don't feel like it. Many married people have found that the
feelings they long for return when they start doing the things that bind two people together" (p. 19).
Beyond the romance, the marriage relationship should also be a close and growing friendship.
Consider this excellent advice: "Enjoying your spouse as both friend and marriage partner will help
override many marital disagreements, whether financial or social. Couples who remain in love almost
inevitably must also be good friends. They will share the ups and downs that are common within the
marriage relationship" (Jerold Aust, "What Are the Keys to a Happy Marriage?").

Did I really mean "for better or worse"?

As we saw in Malachi 2:14, marriage is a covenant. When we took our marriage vows, we probably
repeated words like "for better or worse." Did we really mean it? No matter what the situation might
be right now in your marriage, can't you work together to make it better?

Do you have the option to give up if the situation has become "worse"? God says He "hates divorce"
(Malachi 2:16), and His expectation is for you to be committed to your marriage for life. Paul also
gave instructions to Church members not to divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10-11), and Jesus Christ gave
narrow definition to the terrible circumstances that would allow for divorce and remarriage (Matthew

A helpful exercise to begin restoring the love in your marriage is to go back and watch a video of your
wedding if you have it. Listen to the words the minister is saying. Say those vows to each other again.
If you don't have this available to you, click on this link to read a wedding ceremony.

In difficult times when you have tried everything you know how to do, it can be helpful to seek wise
counsel (Proverbs 4:7; 11:14). Healthy, mature people are not afraid to seek help when they need it.

Can we learn to love again?

Ephesians 5:22-28
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the
Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He
might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to
Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy
and without blemish.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

As we are seeing, love is not to be confused with infatuation. Love is selfless concern for another. True
love will build up the one you love, not tear him or her down. True love will want to give and serve the
other, not take in selfish disregard for the desires of your spouse. A husband should treat his wife like
his queen, and a wife should treat her husband as her "knight in shining armor"as corny as that
might sound.

Or, as the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5, we should treat each other as Christ and His Church do.
Jan 12, 2002 - Six Habits of Happily

Six Habits of Happily Married Couples

Success in marriage hinges on consistent performance of these key habits.
by Rabbi Dov Heller, M.A.

Habit #1 Give Each Other Pleasure

Happily married couples are committed to the goal of giving each other pleasure. You
must stay focused on the ultimate goal which is to give each other pleasure and not
cause pain. It sounds simple enough, but can be very hard in practice.

For just one day, try to maintain a consciousness with everything you do, by asking
yourself, "Is what I'm about to do or say going to cause my spouse pain or pleasure?"

To monitor how you're doing, each of you should make two lists: One for all the things
your spouse does to cause you pain, and another which identifies what you would like
your spouse to do to give you pleasure. Swap lists, and now you know exactly what to
do and what not to do. No more mind reading!

Habit #2 Create Mutually Satisfying Love and Friendship Rituals

Rituals are habits that build and strengthen a relationship. One couple had the following
"greeting ritual" at night when the husband came home:

He would first greet the dog and hug the kids. Then he would go into his bedroom,
change his clothes, and watch the news, followed by a visit to the bathroom. Finally he
would wander into the kitchen and mutter something to his wife, for example, "Lets eat
fast so we can get to the PTA meeting!"
One might say that such a ritual was not exactly increasing their love for each other.
How are your greeting and goodbye rituals?
So after watching how their dog greeted them every time they came home, this couple
decided to come up with a new ritual. Elated dogs jump all over their masters and lick
them. So they decided to greet each other like dogs. They started jumping up and down
and hugging each other. They really got into it. They had fun and the kids got a kick out
it, too.

Our actions affect the way we feel. How are your greeting and good-bye rituals?

Here are some rituals you and your spouse should consider working on:

Daily e-mailing each other with a compliment.

Daily phone call. (especially important for husbands to do)

Anniversaries deserve special attention. Plan to do something both of you really enjoy,
rather than feeling stuck two days before your anniversary arrives and then running out
to get some flowers.

Before you turn in for the night, try saying two compliments to each other. This means
coming up with something new each night!

It is essential to have a "date night" at least every other week.

Habit #3 Create a Safe Place to Discuss Issues Openly and Honestly

Abusive relationships are ones in which you are afraid to express feelings and opinions.
Happily married couples create a sense of safety that allows each person to feel
comfortable expressing his/her feelings, problems, and dissatisfactions. This sense of
safety is the foundation upon which a couple negotiates things that are bothering them.

It's common for each person to come into a relationship with certain expectations about
how things will be. But without the ability to communicate and negotiate, these issues
become sources for power struggles that almost always damage the relationship.

Habit #4 Use Good Communication Skills to Resolve Hot Issues

The technique that every couple must learn is called the "listener-speaker technique."
The problem with the way most couples argue is that they try to find solutions before
fully giving each other the chance to say what they need to say. The speaker-listener
technique ensures that before you can engage in solution talk, each person feels they
have been fully heard.
Only after each person has been fully heard, do you
proceed to problem solving.
Here's how it works: One person holds an object in their hand which symbolizes that he
or she has the floor. While one person has the floor, the other person can only listen by
repeating back or paraphrasing what the other person said. The listener can stop the
speaker if s/he is saying too much for the listener to repeat back.

When couples use this technique, it automatically ensures that each person will be able
to say everything s/he needs to say without interruption, rebuttals, criticism or attack.
Only after each person has been fully "heard," do you then proceed to problem solving.

Habit #5 Constantly Turn Toward Each Other, Rather Than Away

When you pass your spouse sitting at her desk doing some work, do you stop and rub
her shoulders, give her a kiss on the cheek, and whisper something nice in her ear or
do you just walk on by? This is the meaning of "turning toward" as opposed to "turning

Marriage research shows that happily married couples do a lot of turning toward each
other whenever they get the chance. They look for ways to be physically and
emotionally close to each other. Turning toward each other means making each other
your number one priority.

Another important aspect of turning toward each other is doing things together that you
both enjoy. Taking walks together, drinking coffee together after dinner, learning Torah
together, and listening to music together, are all examples of how couples turn toward
each other.

A powerful way to turn toward each other is to show the ultimate respect by standing
when your spouse enters the room. Sounds old-fashioned? It is. But it's a powerful way
to turn toward your spouse, make him/her feel very special.
Couples who "turn away" from each other don't develop closeness. It's a basic principle
stated in the Talmud, "A good deed begets another good deed. A bad deed begets
another bad deed."

Habit #6 Infuse Your Lives With Shared Meaning

I often ask singles the following question: "After you're married, what do you plan to do
for the next 40 years?" And I usually follow-up by saying, "And besides having fun, what
else will you do with each other?"

Human beings need meaning like we need water. Happily married couples enrich their
relationship by sharing meaningful experiences with each other. The ultimate in
meaning is to share a common philosophy of life and life purpose. This is why couples
who observe Shabbat together, and learn Torah together, have great sources of
meaning built into their lives.

Some other specific ways of infusing your relationship with meaning are visiting the sick
together, making a shiva call together, or preparing a meal together for a mother who
just gave birth.

When couples share truly meaningful experiences, they bond on a deeper level.

These six habits may seem small, but when practiced intentionally and consistently,
they will form the backbone of a deeply fulfilling marriage.

What Happily
Married Couples Do
By Douglas Brinley

Ten ideas for enriching your marital relationship.

Having spent my career helping couples strengthen their marriages, I have

learned that couples who are experiencing marital troubles often face a
twofold problem: they have lost the Spirit of the Lord in their relationship
because of contention, and they are not doing the kinds of activities that would
bring them closer to each other. Happily married couples do some specific
types of things to keep their marriages vibrant and meaningful for both
partners. The following ideas may help you and your spouse evaluate and
enrich your relationship.

Have positive conversations. Sharing experiences and feelings in depth with

each other is the solution to most marital problems. Couples need time just to
talk about marriage, family, career, Church callings, children, the ward, the
neighborhood, goals, and many other subjects. You both must feel
comfortable exchanging your thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism,
feeling inferior, or being smothered.
Show affection. We all need to feel loved, cherished, needed, and wanted.
Physical embraces, hugging, kissing, holding hands, caring for each other,
and seeing to each others needs can help spouses show and feel affection
that is crucial for married couples.
Remember that you are each others therapists. No counselor or outsider
knows the two of you better than the two of you do! You know each others
likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses. A good therapist listens
attentively; provides new perspectives on situations; compliments on progress;
is patient, kind, and nonjudgmental; and helps us think things through in ways
that allow a better solution. Superficiality dooms relationships because such a
shallow level of communication does not create positive emotions and feelings
between spouses.
Be humble and cultivate Christlike attributes. When you have a
disagreement, realize that both of you have the responsibility to resolve it.
Sometimes seeing a situation from the other persons point of view is difficult.
However, with humility and kindness, you can work together to solve problems
in a manner that accommodates both of your needs.
Date frequently. You and your spouse need time together to renew your
relationship. New perspectives come with time away from the mundane. That
means dating is essential. If you have children but few resources, look for
creative ways to go on dates. For example, you might ask in-laws or neighbors
to watch your children while you two get away for a mini vacation. You might
exchange childcare with other couples for different date nights. Above all,
recognize that a babysitter is cheaper than a divorce.
Enrich your intimacy. Intimate relations were designed by the Lord as a
sacred opportunity to renew marriage covenants, provide therapy, and keep
you two in love. It is essential in a stressful world that the two of you enjoy
your physical and emotional relationship. Intimacy is not to be abused. This is
your spouse, companion, confidant, lover, and therapist all rolled into one, and
you two should enjoy the privilege of sharing your masculine and feminine
traits in a wholesome way. Of course, the relationship must be healthy if this
part of the marriage is to be cherished. Intimacy should not be used as a
punishment or a weapon to hurt the other spouse or reward good behavior. It
is also important not to solicit behavior that is offensive to your spouse.
Rather, loving, kind interactions facilitate greater unity.
Spend time with children and grandchildren. Be kind to children. A wife will
have a hard time feeling affection toward her husband if he mistreats or is
unkind to their children. The reverse is also true. Husbands and wives who
take an active, positive role in parenting engender love from their spouses.
Seek feedback and help each other. From an eternal perspective, we are all
new at marriage and have a lot to learn. A humble approach toward each
other allows husbands and wives to learn from one another. Seeking feedback
from your spouse about how you are doing and how you could improve might
be just what you need to be a better spouse and parent. Remember that
insisting on being right is not as important as being united and having the
Eliminate anger. Anger is a great destroyer of marriages and families.
Displays of temper are not of God but of the devil (see3 Nephi 11:2930). If
you become angry when something upsets you, your family members may be
hesitant to share their deepest thoughts and feelings with you.
Be sensitive to each others stress levels. Mothers generally make sure
children get to school and other events, fix food, nurse everyone, and serve as
the family psychologistin many cases, for most of the day. Working spouses
often come home tired and drained. This can make emotions extra raw. Both
spouses will benefit from seeking to make homecoming a positive experience
for each other and the children. That may mean leaving frustrations at the
door on the way into the home, or it might mean adjusting daily routines from
time to time to accommodate one or both spouses. The key is to seek to
support each other through good times as well as those difficult moments.
In addition, here are a few more specific things all couples can do that,
through consistent effort, will bring happiness into the home and invite the
Spirit into your lives:

1. 1.
Kneel together in prayer morning and night to call down the powers of
heaven to bless your marriage.

2. 2.
Study the scriptures individually and as a family.

3. 3.
Attend the temple together regularly.

My all-time favorite short piece of counsel on marriage came from President

Gordon B. Hinckley, who shared this important key to a great marriage: A
happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious
concern for the comfort and well-being of ones companion.1 If you want a
happy marriage, do what happily married couples do.

Quick to Forgive
Photograph of Spencer W. Kimball by Eldon K. Linschoten

Marriage partners must be quick to forgive. If we will sue for peace, taking the
initiative in settling differencesif we forgive and forget with all our hearts if
we forgive all real or fancied offenses before we ask forgiveness for our own
sinsif we pay our own debts, large or small, before we press our debtorsif
we manage to clear our own eyes of the blinding beams before we magnify
the motes in the eyes of otherswhat a glorious world this would be! Divorce
would be reduced to a minimum; courts would be freed from disgusting
routines; family life would be heavenly; the building of the kingdom would go
forward at an accelerated pace; and the peace which passeth understanding
would bring to us all a joy and happiness which has hardly entered into the
heart of man.
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 242.

7 tips for a happy marriage

By Joanna Bounds |
Even though we all hope our marriage will last forever, a third of marriages end in divorce, according to the
Australian Bureau of Statistics. Tough spots will always occur - one partner might get sick, get the sack, or
need to attend to a dying parent, says psychologist Meredith Fuller, explaining that every union will go
through happy and hard times. A long-lasting marriage needs commitment, good communication and a good
dose of love and affection. Try these seven tips for a happy marriage:

Create your own rituals

It could be as simple as making your husband a coffee in the morning while he lets you lie in at the weekend.
Whatever you choose, a couples ritual is a way to connect with your partner in the madness of a busy life.
The comfort of little rituals are trust giving, safety maintaining, and love enhancing these things help us get
through the day in the outside world, says Meredith. If your partner says they love you and demonstrates
that with consistent gestures, you can believe it.

Learn to communicate

If you or your hubby is a poor communicator, dont just put up with it, says Meredith - being able to talk
openly with your partner is a sign of a strong marriage. Develop your skills go to classes, read books,
observe good communicators and interview them about technique, ask for feedback, practice, she advises.
Communication skills enhance all areas of your life home and work. Get cracking no excuses.

Money matters

We usually handle money in the same way as our family did, and often assume our way is best. Not so, says
Meredith, who advises discussing your views on paying bills, saving and credit cards before you tie the knot.
You need to come up with the new blended way you both will do things. Its easy to have a major joint
account where you both must tell each other what you do, and a slush fund minor private account each where
you can be yourself without having to justify what you spend.

Respect and affection are deal breakers

Small gestures matter - if you want your marriage to last, keep reminding each other that you love each other
and nurture your relationship with kind words. You need to treat each other preciously not for granted,
says Meredith. Some people say I love you, and some people will show I love you make sure that your
partner understands your message, and work out what you both need then try to accommodate each other.

Adultery and jealousy are different things

No matter how hard a marriage may seem at times, and while having affair might be exciting, almost everyone
involved - children included are destined to be harmed. Either you are in or out never humiliate your
partner by duplicity, says Meredith. On the other hand, if your partner is jealous, and there is no reason for
this, nip it in the bud. It is not cute or sweet, it is inappropriate, and can lead to violence. Get help. See a
counsellor, and explore the past and work on this.

Make room for sex

If you and your hubbys libidos are matched evenly, dont worry if sex takes a back seat on having kids. If one
wants more nookie than the other, however, Meredith advises making room for sex in a busy schedule. That
might mean getting enough rest and sleep the night before, cancelling any other commitments, getting the
kids minded, turning off your phones and computers, and doing nice things to each other, she says. Think
about what the other person wants, not just what you feel like giving. So, ask them, take it in turns and take
your time. She adds that its perfectly normal for sex to fall of the menu when kids come into the mix.
Sometimes you just have to hang in there because one of you is dog tired. It wont be dreadful forever - but if
the drought goes on for too long, seek some assistance.

Put your marriage first

Meredith adds that having a happy marriage means being prepared to take turns with lifes stages. You can
still work towards your goals, but maybe they will take longer to achieve, because right now you choose to help
your husband study for a post grad course, or delay moving interstate so he can care for his elderly father.
And, for those bored with their partner, she says slow and steady beats the highs and lows of an anxious
passion anytime. There are two aspects that glue lovers together in the long term: like and respect.