Ingredients of a Successful Marriage
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
Living a successful life as a Christian is based entirely on learning to love others with the love of God.
However, loving each other does not mean compromising with people’s sin.
None of us can love more unconditionally than Jesus and He never compromised with people’s sin.
Loving unconditionally means seeing each other as God sees us and interacting with each other based on the knowledge of God.
On the cross of Calvary Jesus substituted Himself for each human being.
He died in their place so He can live His life through them.
He lives in us so He can experience life through us.
That means He experiences everything that we experience.
So, what do you think happens when we mistreat and abuse each other?
Because Jesus lives in us and experiences what we experience He feels everything we feel.
Every insult we hurl at each other… He feels!
Every lie we tell on each other, every betrayal of trust… He knows exactly what that feels like.
When we do it to each other we are doing it to Him!
When you look at another Christian with scorn, Jesus looks back at you through that person’s eyes and feels the hate you’re projecting at Him!
Exactly what we think of another Christian – In that moment – That’s exactly what we think of Jesus!
I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?
Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:35-40
Last Sunday, just after my marriage of 16 years ended in divorce, I was up at 1:00am capturing advice I would have given myself if I could go back in time… things I wish I would have known as a husband earlier.
I shared my thoughts with my friends on Facebook hoping that maybe out there somewhere, there was one person like me that could benefit from my hard-earned lessons and recommit to being the man their wife deserves, before it was too late…
To my surprise, in one week over 71,200 people had ‘shared’ those lessons, and I received countless private messages thanking me for how it had already transformed their marriage.
… and then I also got messages from women who were feeling stuck, not sure what they could do to bring life back into their marriage, and how they could inspire their man to step up.
One woman sent me this message: “A lot of my friends wanted to know after reading your post, Coming from a man’s point of view what would a man want in a marriage?”
Not An Expert But…
I still don’t pretend to be an expert on relationships. I have no intention of being known as one.
I am just a normal guy. A guy that screws up sometimes, and is trying to learn as I go, to be a little wiser next time… and a guy who is just trying to listen to the lessons that life provides.
What I share is just my opinion and my perspective in being a man, nothing more. My only intention is to serve.
I share my thoughts here only because I feel it needs to be shared, and because I hope that it may bring light to some woman out there who is looking for hope and direction in her relationship right now.
Here’s the deal…
Marriage is a 2-way covenant. A partnership where both husband AND wife hold EQUAL accountability in making it work, and who both need to commit fully to make it THRIVE…. YOU ARE A TEAM. That team works best when both are whole and strong, and share a vision of what you want to create.
The problem is men are often ignorant as to the real needs of their wife, and MOST WOMEN DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEIR MAN WANTS, and how to be that WOMAN that will INSPIRE THEIR MAN TO RISE and be that KING that she deserves.
This is what the TRUE MAN wants from his lady…
1) He wants you to LOVE YOURSELF FULLY FIRST…
Fall in love with who you are and treat yourself with kindness and respect. Stop being so hard on yourself.
You are amazing, just the way you are. When you realize this you are more confident, and NOTHING is SEXIER to a man than a woman who owns her worth, her brilliance, her beauty.
The more you love yourself, the more love you will have to give.
2) FILL YOURSELF UP…
Stop looking to your man to be the one to ‘make’ you happy. That’s your job, not his.
When you are expecting that from him, it drains him, but when you take accountability and FILL YOURSELF with love and joy, you are like a POWER PLANT with ENERGY and LOVE and PASSION that pours into his life.
HE WANTS you to be happy, he just doesn’t want to be blamed when you’re not. Find what makes you happy.
Look in the mirror and see how amazing and gorgeous you really are. What a gift that body is. Love every inch… just as it is right now!
A woman who loves her body takes care of it. She loves to eat well, and she loves to exercise, not to impress anyone else, but because SHE DESERVES TO BE HEALTHY. You take care of that which you love.
Stop being so critical about your body. You aren’t supposed to look like that model on the cover of the magazine… SHE’S FAKE. She’s a photo-shopped illusion created by a marketing firm with the purpose of making you feel inadequate about yourself.
That’s the only way you’ll buy their stuff. Don’t buy into their lie. Stop comparing yourself with others, your only job is to be the most BEAUTIFUL YOU. Take good care of yourself, and your man will be irresistibly attracted to you.
4) GIVE 100% and EXPECT NOTHING in return.
If you want a happy marriage you must be willing to PLAY FULL OUT to create it, regardless of where he is at. Take full accountability for your part. UNMET EXPECTATIONS are the biggest source of unhappiness in marriage, so stop expecting him to be anything but him. When you give without expectation, just watch and see how much is returned.
5) BE GRATEFUL FOR WHO HE IS RIGHT NOW…
Focus on what you love about him as he is, and try to overlook the rest. When you do this not only does it make you happier, but you will begin to notice more and more of what you love.
You will always find what you are looking for. When you see and acknowledge the greatness in him, it will call forth that part of him who wants to be your king and knight in shining armor.
6) FORGIVE HIM…
Over and over again. Face it, he’s made some stupid mistakes. A lot of them. You know that and he does too. Carrying the weight of those mistakes into the future though, not only will keep you from trusting him, but it will keep him from feeling safe to be fully open with you.
So wherever you have that secret closet inside your mind where you are storing all those mistakes from all those years, you know, the one you go to whenever he messes up again and keep all the evidence and validation of why you should leave… yeah, that one. Destroy it! Burn the evidence and be free once and for all.
Learn from the past and LET IT GO. He deserves to be free from the past and so do you. It’s God’s job to judge him, not yours. The faster you forgive the more fully love will flow.
7) NEVER CRITICIZE HIM…
Compliment him on what he does right, rather than tear him down for what he does wrong. He WANTS TO PLEASE you, when he does something you appreciate let him know. Stroke him on the back of his neck, and tell him how much you appreciate his efforts and he will be eager to do more.
If you criticize him, it will only shut him down and make him hide from you and stop trying. (Seriously, men are so easy to train. Positive Reinforcement.
Us guys, we’re kinda’ like seals at sea world… give em’ a treat after they do something you want and they’ll keep doing it…. Don’t tell your husband I told you this.)
8 ) YOU DON’T OWN HIM.
He is free and was meant to be. If you try to control him, put a leash on him, or cage him, it will take away the very thing that makes him a man – that raw masculine sense of control and independence.
The more you try to force him or restrict him, the more he will yearn to escape. The more inviting you make yourself, the more you let him be free, the more he will want to stay.
Just like you, he needs time for himself to fill himself up. The man hungers for adventure, and for challenge and for time to brood in his Man cave.
You may not understand why he loves to watch sports or violent movies about war, and superheroes, and spies. You don’t have to understand, just let him have that space to be.
10) GET CLEAR ON WHAT YOU WANT and choose to CREATE IT…
Stop waiting for him to give you what you want, take responsibility for creating it yourself. – i.e. If you want to date more, create it… make it easy for him.
Give him a list of 10 ideas of what you like to do together on dates, and schedule a night each week for him to take you out, and then gently remind him if needed…
11) SPEAK CLEARLY and OPENLY… He’s NOT a mind-reader. No matter how long you’ve lived together, he still won’t always know what you want. When you are upset, he probably has no idea why.
You could be furious with him and he’ll have NO IDEA what he did or said to make you upset. The more clearly you communicate what you want, the more he can give it to you.
12) DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING…
Don’t jump to conclusions. As intuitive as you are, you don’t always know what he is thinking or feeling. Your judgments are often filtered through your own limiting beliefs. Give him the benefit of the doubt, and choose to believe the best. Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.’
13) RESPECT HIM…
While a woman yearns to be deeply understood and cherished, the man’s primary need is to be respected. When you have a problem, his first impulse is to FIX IT. This is how he feels important.
While criticism and control are his “anti-love” languages and will cause him to feel dis-respected and to shut down, meaningful acknowledgement will make him feel respected and bring him to life and cause him to stand a little taller and be a little better.
14) ENCOURAGE HIM TO LIVE HIS PURPOSE…
The man is most alive when he is on a quest for something he feels meaningful. It may take him time to discover what that purpose is, but encourage him along the way, and when he finds it, be his greatest cheerleader.
15) Ok! Here we go… You knew this was coming… ABOUT SEX…
For men in a relationship this is not just a desire, it is a core need. It is one of the keys that anchors his soul to yours. Frequent, meaningful Sex is what connects his heart to you and makes him feel at one.
Open yourself fully to experience that passionate and connected love, and he will give himself to you.
Shut him off, withhold from him, or reject him and it will emasculate him and sever the most important connection to you in his world.
Men and Women seem to be wired opposite with sex. While the woman wants emotional connection first to fully open herself up in physical intimacy, the man wants physical connection first to open up emotionally. This is a good recipe for sexual frustration. I call this, God’s little birth control plan.
This doesn’t mean you give up your needs or sacrifice your desires. Just the opposite. Let him know what turns you on (even if it’s little things like when he does the dishes for you, or when he sits down and just rubs your feet as he listens to you share about your day.) Talk openly about what both of you want with intimacy and work together to create it.
16) In SEX, FOCUS ON YOUR FULFILLMENT first.
Guys are pretty simple. Their mechanism is easy to operate and can always be turned on. You on the other hand, have a complex and intricate instrument. Focus on how you are fulfilled and your man will be turned on when he feels he is pleasing you.
Create that space where it is safe in your marriage to be fully open and vulnerable, and even to let the dark side of your passion out.
Keep it interesting and exciting, and most of all fun. Through that, the deep sacred space that connects you will continue to grow deeper and stronger.
17) LEARN THE UNIQUE COMBINATION to you Man’s heart.
Figure out the love languages that he uses to receive and give love. And then, commit daily fill him with that love. The more you give, the more you will receive.
18) FOCUS ON THE LONG-TERM VISION and then TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Love is like a garden that requires constant watering and constant weeding. You may have let a lot of weeds grow in your garden over time, but stay focused on daily working towards what you want, and inevitably, before long you will have the sweet fruit you have been wanting. You deserve that love, and so does he.
And renew that commitment to love daily. Keep your Roheart open to him, and let him own it.
20) And don’t forget to SMILE.
It looks good on you.
… and of course continue to build your connection with God. He’ll strengthen you on the journey, fill you with love, and help you with the rest.
Royalty and Nobility
You are the QUEEN and your husband is YOUR KING. The more you see and treat each other as the nobility you truly are, the richer your relationship will become and the happier your castle will be.
As a woman, you are amazing. Us men, stand in awe of your capacity to give yourself to your family and to the world. You are so intuitive, sensitive, brilliant, strong and kind. Without you, the man’s world is not complete. Thanks for being patient with us.
My heart hurts, knowing how much pain so many experience in their marriage. I know how it feels. So many of us live unconscious to these simple principles. I don’t understand why we were never taught them in school, and why we don’t live them more fully as we learn them. It’s sad that many of us don’t take the time to discover and live them until the pain is too great…
As long as you are still married though, it’s not too late. It may take time, and it may take patience, and it WILL take you making a decision to try a little harder. But there is always hope for you.
And if you have already found yourself in divorce, take these lessons and learn them for next time, and hold tight to the hope that your Prince is out there searching for you. Be the type of person you want to attract, and in time, he will find you.
In Beauty and Glory
I know that out there, are young brides wondering what they got into, and women who have been married a long time wondering how they can get out.
All of them, deep down, want the same thing. They want a marriage that is whole and fulfilling where they feel cherished by someone who they can share their life with… many of them, though don’t know how to create that.
If you find lessons here that can serve those other women you know who deserve a beautiful and fulfilling marriage, then PLEASE SHARE this with them. Hopefully for some it will give them new insights, clearer direction, and wake them up to new possibilities and hope that they may have lost.
WOMEN – THIS IS YOUR INVITATION to rise up in your beauty and glory. To be the goddess of your home and the queen of your man’s heart.
You are RADIANT. Keep on shining… the future is more beautiful than you can imagine…
Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different… After losing a woman whom I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had…
1) NEVER STOP COURTING
Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man who would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it.
This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.
2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART
Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance.
Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife.
Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.
3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again
You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today.
Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday.
SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.
Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see are reasons to be bugged.
If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love.
Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you’ll know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to have this woman as your wife.
5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER
Your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.
6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions
It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.
7) NEVER BLAME your wife If YOU get frustrated or angry at her
It is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility.
When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed.
You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.
8) Allow your woman to JUST BE
When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s okay.
Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean.
The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET.
9) BE SILLY
Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.
And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.
10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY
Learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED.
Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.
11) BE PRESENT
Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER.
Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.
12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY
To carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.
13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT
And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.
14) GIVE HER SPACE
The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)
15) BE VULNERABLE
You don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.
If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share.
It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know if she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light.
DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.
17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER
The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.
18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY.
Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons’ strengths to win.
19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY
And focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage.
Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM.
Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.
20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE
In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices are governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.
In the end MARRIAGE isn’t about Happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come.
Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from, and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building one brick at a time.
These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.
But these are lessons I am learning and committed to carrying forward. Truth is, I LOVED being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.
If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it with those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love.
One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard-earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.
The woman who told him ‘I do’ and trusted her life with him has been waiting for this man to step up.
If you are reading this and your marriage isn’t what you want it to be, take 100% responsibility for YOUR PART in marriage, regardless of where your spouse is at and commit to applying these lessons while there is time.
MEN – THIS IS YOUR CHARGE : Commit to being an EPIC LOVER. There is no greater challenge and no greater prize. Your woman deserves that from you.
Be the type of husband your wife can’t help but brag about.