Do you know what is the #1 secret to a long happy marriage? Perhaps there are many answers, but one, in particular, has helped me stay married for thirty years.
In fact, I think many couples would agree it is hard to stay married without it. So what is the magic ingredient?
Sadly, over time, many of us get lazy in our marriages. It becomes more about “me” and my hurts instead of servanthood and forgiveness.
For example, one time my husband and I had a very frustrating problem happen to both of us. Believe me, I wanted to yell at him. And I’m not a yeller.
In fact, I wanted to have a complete meltdown.
It could have easily gone bad if we did not forgive each other and work together to fix our “problem.”
No matter what has happened in your marriage, the end goal needs to be forgiveness. This is the secret to a long happy marriage.
How to Maintain a Strong Marriage
Maintaining a strong and healthy relationship requires effort, commitment, and understanding from both partners. While these things are good, the number one secret to a long happy marriage is forgiving your partner, especially when the little things happen.
Over time, it can eat away at your marriage if you don’t address issues, including the small stuff.
In my case, it was a very little thing that almost blew our marriage apart.
One night, I was out with some girlfriends at prayer group, of all things. My husband was home alone. He was locking up for the night and let the cat in like usual.
Unfortunately, the cat snuck in with a mouse in her mouth.
A live mouse.
Usually, my husband can stop the cat at the door. Not this time.
In fact, the cat ran past him. Before he knew it, the cat stopped, looked up, and then meowed.
When she opened her mouth, the mouse fell onto the floor and scurried away to parts unknown–inside our house.
My husband tried to find the mouse or get the cat to catch it again. No such luck. After a while, he gave up and went to bed.
I came home later that night and quietly got into bed so I would not disturb him. I was totally oblivious to the mouse situation.
Moreover, I slept all night with a mouse in the house.
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What Keeps a Couple Together?
I can tell you what doesn’t keep a couple together–poor communication and unforgiveness.
The next morning, I got up just like normal. There was no mention of a mouse. Later that morning, my husband nonchalantly brought up the fact that the cat had a mouse the night before.
After hem hawing around, I finally put together that my cat brought in a live mouse. I thought for sure he was going to say he caught it. Or the cat caught it.
But that part never came. I finally realized I slept in our house all night with a live mouse running around, and it still had not been found!
To make me feel better, my husband said it was a very small mouse.
There is no such thing as a tiny mouse. A mouse is a mouse.
I wanted to yell, scream, run around the house, stand on a chair, or just leave–forever. (This is not the secret to a long happy marriage.)
You get the point.
Honestly, you can’t blame me. I slept all night with a mouse in the house, and I didn’t even know it.
I did not want to forgive!
What Makes For a Long-Lasting Marriage?
Couples who forgive often are the ones who tend to have long-lasting marriages.
With that knowledge, I knew I had a fork in the road. Was I going to choose to forgive or go full throttle?
Since I am an adult, I figured it was inappropriate to have a complete meltdown, although I wanted to.
So, I chose to forgive and work together to fix the problem.
Deep breathe. 1, 2, 3, 4. I can do this.
I had just got my wits about me when my husband informed me he was leaving for work.
Rats (pun intended)! I thought we were going to work together to solve the problem as any loving couple would do in such a horrific crisis.
He didn’t seem to think it was a big deal.
To make me feel better, he said he would catch the mouse when he got home from work.
Houston, we have a problem.
Again, I thought about screaming (or burning the house down), but that would not have done any good. The mouse would still be running around, and I would have to apologize later for my bad behavior.
Reluctantly, I decided to keep my mouth shut and make the best of a bad situation.
What Makes the Happiest Marriages?
The happiest marriages are ones that include a good dose of forgiveness (and communication).
After the first night, my husband and I talked through the issue. I realized he was doing everything he could to get rid of the mouse. It wasn’t his fault it happened.
He apologized for not telling me sooner. And I forgave him. This is the secret to a happy marriage.
How Do You Know If Your Marriage Is In Trouble?
There are many clues your marriage is in trouble. For instance, you can’t laugh at difficult situations. Or you withdraw, nitpick, or scream.
Fortunately, I did none of these things.
Clearly, I decided to focus on the problem, not my husband. This is the secret to a long happy marriage.
In the future, we made a deal to look at the cat’s mouth from now on before she came in at night. I’m so glad we both chose not to scream and yell at each other.
It took a lot of self-control, but I knew it really wasn’t his fault.
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What Is the Secret to a Long Happy Marriage?
After thirty years of marriage, I have decided the secret to a happy marriage is forgiveness. There is no use fighting about something that can not be controlled.
Things just happen.
I had a choice. Yelling at my husband would have only delayed the mouse problem. The cat was the issue, not him.
How many times do we focus on our spouse instead of the problem?
The enemy is not your spouse, it’s Satan.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Keep reminding yourself that you and your husband are on the same team.
Next time you want to yell and scream at your spouse, pause and think about the situation. Control your initial reaction and then go into problem-solving mode.
Immediately start thinking, “What can I do to work together to fix the problem?” And forgive. That’s the secret to a happy marriage.
It will save you a lot of time and hurt feelings. And you will get rid of your “little” problem much faster.
What is your secret to a long happy marriage? Does it include forgiveness?
Are You Struggling to Have a Healthy Marriage? Do You Want to Change Your Spouse?
Get Marriage Interrupted: How to Deal with Unexpected Conflict as a Couple and Stay in Love on Amazon or any digital platform. This book is filled with both humorous and impactful insights for anyone experiencing marriage conflict.
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Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you struggling with family issues that have resulted in a family rift or a family estrangement? Are you feeling a sense of shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
In it, I share my own experience of a seven-year estrangement from my Christian family and how we eventually reconciled. Furthermore, I provide practical advice to help you navigate your own family issues. Don’t let the pain of estrangement hold you back. Allow God to assist you in healing, no matter what has happened within your family. Remember, there is always hope to be found, even when things seem to be falling apart.
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