Lessons on a successful marriage
Whosoever findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. Proverbs 18:22
Love is a beautiful thing and marriage, an equally remarkable act, is used to honour it. Although many may agree that marriage can be rewarding, it is also demanding. Two completely different beings with diverse experiences are faced with the challenge of merging separate lives into an intimate and complex union which the Bible describes as good and honourable.
And while there are those bonds which are highly coveted, a blind eye must not be turned to the high level of failures in marriages.
Some of the reasons put forward for marital and family stress include faulty communication, immaturity, failure to take marriage seriously, and an unhealthy need fulfilment.
According to a presentation done by Dr Barry Davidson, a family therapist and chief executive officer of Family Life Ministries, marriage counsellors consistently report that couples who are not getting along, often are unable to communicate effectively.
"To improve communication, the partners must learn to transmit clear messages and to listen carefully. Very often, couples begin marriage with unrealistically high expectations, only to be disappointed and disenchanted when the relationship doesn't turn out as they had hoped.
"This realisation can be a reason for working harder at the marriage and making it a mutually satisfying experience. For example, couples may work together to plan new experiences, make realistic plans for the future, make opportunities for intimacy and continue to spend time interacting with each other," Dr Davidson suggested.
In his presentation, the counselling psychologist made mention of the importance of the fulfilment of various needs for marriages to succeed. In fact, he pointed out that one counsellor defines a happy marriage as one in which there is a high degree of mutual need satisfaction.
Among the needs of a wife, according to Dr Davidson, are affection, good conversation, honesty and openness, financial support, and family commitment.
"Affection symbolises security, protection, comfort, and approval - all important commodities in the wife's eyes.
"(Regarding conversation), informing each other of your personal interests and activities, desiring to bring each other into your spheres of interest.
Investigate each other's personal feelings and attitudes without necessarily trying to change each other and understand each other's motivation in life - what makes you happy and sad. Learn about each other's 'ups and downs'.
"Give each other your undivided attention and make eye contact," he proposed, adding that an unhappy marriage is one with much need frustration.
Dr Davidson also stressed the importance of the need of a woman to trust her husband.
According to him: "Whatever advantage a man may gain in being secretive, closed, or even dishonest, he wins it at the expense of his wife's security and marital fulfilment. She must come to find him predictable, when a woman reaches that level of trust, she is able to love more fully."
Touching briefly on the needs of the husband, Dr Davidson listed sexual fulfilment, companionship (recreation and/or social), domestic support, loyalty, and admiration and a wife who maintains her attractiveness as the major desires of a married man.