Life is like a box of chocolates!– Forest Gump
Kudo’s to Forest for summing up a key principle of life.
Here’s another for you. It didn’t come from the lips of Mr. Gump, but it could have.
“Marriage is like a Cake! To make it turn out right, you need to follow the directions and use the right ingredients!”The Healthy Marriage
Don’t misunderstand. There is a lot of mystery to marriage. Human personalities make it a beautiful challenge.
Since individuals make up the unit (unity of the relationship), it’s hard to say ‘this is exactly how marriage should be done.’ We are all different. We think, feel and see things in our own unique way. Hence, every marriage is different.
My marriage looks different than my buddy Tim. He and his wife have their ‘dance.’ That’s what my wife calls it: A dance. I dance different than Tim. So my dance with Michelle doesn’t look like his with his wife.
That said, there ARE some things that must be in each relationship for it to be successful. These are fundamental principles – truths – that are universal.
They are like the laws of gravity for marriage. Break them and you lose.
In This Article
Marriage is Like a Cake
Let’s get back to the premise that marriage is like a cake.
How, you say?
I remember the first time I tried to bake something. I was moving away for college and wanted my mom to teach me how to cook. I didn’t want to starve to death while getting an education. Plus, I loved my mom’s cooking.
She taught me how to make a cake. At least she tried.
Didn’t turn out the way I anticipated.
Let’s just say it was more suited for breaking apart and throwing at wild animals than human digestion.
I learned something about baking. To make a cake you need a recipe and specific ingredients. No compromise (at least if you want it to turn out like moms).
I failed to follow the recipe and cheated on the ingredients. Therefore I created a stone to throw at things and NOT a cake to eat.
This is what I mean when I say, “Marriage is like a cake!” There are certain ingredients that spice it up and make it satisfying.
Before we look at the basic ingredients that go into a great relationship, understand that every recipe is different. It depends on what you want to make.
For example, if you want a chocolate cake, the recipe will vary a bit from a coconut cake. The principles of baking are the same. They are universal (the same everywhere), but the specifics might look a little different.
What Are The Key Ingredients For Marriage?
There are many things that go into making marriage work. Understanding your spouses personality, likes and dislikes, and background will help you connect on a deep level.
These elements shape the way we think and do life. So they are important to understand.There are many things that go into making marriage work. Understanding your spouses personality, likes and dislikes, and background will help you connect on a deep level. Click To Tweet
Regardless of your personality and perspective, there are key things that can make or break your relationship. These are must have ingredients if you want a strong marriage.
In this article and the next, I want to talk about 6 ingredients for marriage that will help you create a strong, lasting relationship that is successful and satisfying.
Not just commitment to each other (fidelity), but commitment to make the marriage work.
In other words, both partners must be willing to give their all for the marriage.
It’s unfortunate that the word commitment conjures up negative ideas. I have heard men describe their wife as ‘the ole ball and chain.’ How demeaning. They may not mean it, but it presents a negative view of marriage and their wives.
Whether joking or not, that picture is not flattering. It brings to mind the image of being weighed down. Who wants to commit to something that drags you down.
Commitment should not conjure up a negative image in our mind. It should evoke opportunity, not restrictions.
My wife puts it like this. As Christians we believe Jesus gave us certain commands. Those commands are not restrictions on life. They are gateways for a richer life. Sure, there are things we are forbidden to do. But they are warnings because they hurt life rather than help it.
Marriage commitment is the same way. Being committed is not a restriction; it is a doorway to a more fulfilling and rewarding relationship.
How you view it makes all the difference. I can assure you, if you see your marriage as something that restricts you from having fun, your relationship will suffer. If, however, you see it as an opportunity to share life with someone you love, it will be incredibly valuable.
So, how do you build commitment?
To have a strong marriage, you must share a commitment to the values you have as a couple. Values are the backbone of the relationship. Trust may be the heart of it, but shared values gives you the framework to work together to build a strong relationship.
What you can do to increase commitment
- What are the values you share as a couple?
- Write a list of these values
- Discuss them with your spouse.
Common Goals Strengthen Commitment
When you know you are working toward the same goal, you bond. It makes it easier to work together. It creates a sense of unity.When you know you are working toward the same goal, you bond. It makes it easier to work together. It creates a sense of unity. Click To Tweet
Unity must be built around something. I hear couples talk about how they don’t feel connected or in harmony. It is impossible to have agreement without a common goal. Unity implies you are working toward something together.
How to create shared goals
Goals can be big picture things (do a missions trip together, serve the community as volunteers, etc) or small accomplishments (get out of debt, buy a home, etc). It doesn’t matter if they are financial goals, recreational or spiritual goals.
- Make a list of things you want to do in the next year
- Consider writing down your financial goals (especially if you are in debt)
- Think outside the box about things you want to do together
- Make long range goals for the next 10, 5 and 1 year
Write these down and review them on a regular basisIt is impossible to have agreement without a common goal. Unity implies you are working toward something together. Click To Tweet
Many couples think communication is only about talking. It’s not.
It’s not even merely about listening. Sure, it includes both of these. But it goes deeper.
Real communication is connecting on an inner level. It’s built on the commitment and revolves around the idea of sharing hearts.
Watch the video below as I explain what I mean by sharing hearts:
These questions will help you move in the direction
- Do you authentically care about your spouse?
- Or do you go through the motions because you are too busy, stressed and preoccupied?
- When they talk about something that happened in their day, do you desire to enter in an explore how that really impacted them?
- Or do you dismiss it as just an event?
Think honestly about those questions. They hold the key to connection in your marriage.
I have men frequently ask me how to connect with their spouse. My answer is generally the same each time. I ask them how much they care. It’s key.
#3 Emotional Safety
I like the word ‘trust’ when talking about emotional security.
When trust is mentioned, most couples respond, ‘Sure, I trust my spouse. I know they would never…’
Fill in the blank. Cheat. Have an affair. Leave me. Hit me.
That is not the trust I’m referring to. Yes. That level of trust is important. You cannot survive in a relationship if you always wonder if your spouse is faithful, or whether they will hurt you.You cannot survive in a relationship if you always wonder if your spouse is faithful, or whether they will hurt you. Click To Tweet
What Trust Means
The type trust that must be in a marriage to make it successful is the knowledge that your spouse chooses you.
They choose you over themselves. They choose you over other things.
Their choice of you implies that they always have your best interest at heart and will make decisions that validate their love for you.
This is not done because of a sense of obligation. No. It’s born out of love, commitment and a desire to honor and support your spouse. It’s done from the heart for the heart.
Exercises to build trust
It’s not about playing the ‘trust game’ where you all from a chair and trust your spouse catches you. That is not real trust. It’s certainly not long term trust.
Real trust is developed over time from connecting your heart with your spouse. There is no magic formula, although there are keys.
- Work on building commitment
- Explored your shared goals
- Ask specific questions (Need Help? Check out this Resource)
- Carve out space and time for connecting
We cover more about building trust and intimacy here.Trust in marriage is when your spouse chooses you. Their choice of you implies that they always have your best interest at heart and will make decisions that validate their love for you. Click To Tweet
In Part 2 we will see how fun and games can add value to your marriage. Plus one final ingredient most couples overlook.
Wrapping It Up
Ingredients of a good marriage are like the ingredients of a good recipe. Once you’ve found it, nothing could be better.
Although each couple is different and their relationship unique, there are certain ingredients that must be in the marriage to create the intimacy and trust you desire.
In this article we presented three key ingredients for a successful marriage.
- #1 Commitment
- #2 Communication
- #3 Emotional Safety
If you want to explore communication in more depth, listed below are a few recommendations.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.
Magic Relationship Words by Susie and Otto Collins
The Devotion System This free video will show you why men pull away and what you can do to enhance your relationship.