Grant and Irina are co-leaders of the marriage group at our church. We met them at a Marriage Dance workshop. They are fun-loving—always laughing—always inviting people over for a barbeque. They are passionate about everything they do—work, family, their own marriage—your marriage. But they did not have a picture-perfect start.
When Grant was 13, his parents divorced. In his devastation, he vowed that when he married, he would never divorce. And then he married the beautiful, confident, strong-willed Irina. The two of them knew how to clash—and they knew how to make up. To put it in Grant’s words: “I knew I wouldn’t divorce so we were either going to kill each other or we had to learn how to do it right.” They set their sights on creating an extraordinary marriage.
Since they have now spent over 25 years learning to do marriage right, I asked them what they thought was important. Here were their top five:
- Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition. It’s a 100-100 proposition. If you focus on your 50 percent and your spouse’s 50 percent, the temptation will be to keep track of whether your spouse is doing their share. But when you assume both parties need to be giving 100 percent, your focus changes to whether you are giving your all.
- Forgiveness is paramount. Accept the fact that, at some point(s) in time, your spouse will hurt you. Accept the fact that you will hurt them as well. And, just like you will want them to forgive you when it’s your turn, you need to we willing to forgive them. No holding on to the hurt. No using it as a club in the next disagreement. Let go. Ask God to help you.
- Admit when it’s your fault. Admit when you’re wrong. Admit your part of the problem. Forgive their part of the problem. (See #2)
- Always try to see things from your partner’s point of view. They are different than you are in many ways and God gave them to you on purpose. Is there a mutual problem you need to solve? Thank God that He has given you someone to broaden your perspective and help come up with a better solution. You don’t see eye to eye on how to plan a trip, or where to go on date night, or which movie to watch? God has given you a mate with a different point of view to broaden your perspective, and—if you will allow it—make life more fun! If you really can’t agree, you be the generous, gracious person who gives your spouse’s point of view preference.
- Be on the lookout for ways to help your spouse and do good for them. Do they need help with a project? Would a special gift touch their heart? Do they just need to hear that you are rooting for them—that you appreciate them—that you think they have done something well? How can you boost their day and become the person they would always choose to be around?
If you are still reading, you are one of the elite who has their sights set on an extraordinary marriage. There are so many things we can do. No matter where you are on the “extraordinary marriage continuum,” everyone can take steps toward the goal. Here are five steps to start with.