“Everybody in the family got a good wife. Arthur got a good wife. Frank got a good wife. David got a good wife. Jacky (my dad), even you got a good wife! What did I get??? Nothing!” With no thought to my young ears only inches away, my great uncle fussed about his marriages (complete with colorful language), and the delivery of his recollections absolutely cracked me up. As an adult, I still chuckle when I think about his love life tirade, but it also reminds me of the phrase, “good relationships are not found, they are built.”
Couples who have weathered fifty years of good days, sad days, anguishing days, joyful day, lonely days, and boring days together know that luck did not bring them together, and certainly did not hold them together. Other couples marry in haste and manage to have a good marriage, but luck is still not the hero of the story. These couples must put in work, make sacrifices, resolve issues they would rather ignore, and probably shed a few tears to get to the good marriage.
So, what do “lucky” couples have in common?
- Lucky couples listen more than they talk (cf. James 1:19). Did God give us two ears and one mouth as a sign we should listen more than we talk? Perhaps. But, regardless of why we are designed this way, we can use it as a visual reminder to listen to each other more. Couples who have it figured out are surely talking to each other and, more importantly, listening to each other. We all long to be seen, heard, and understood.
- Lucky couples show gratitude for each other (cf. Colossians 1:3). Showing gratitude can look like saying thank you, even for small gestures. Showing gratitude can look like a therapeutic hug at the end of a long workday. Showing gratitude can look like vacuuming so she can take a break. Showing gratitude can look like honoring each other’s wishes. It is amazing what a small acknowledgement of thanks can do for the heart. My presence and contribution matters to someone.
- Lucky couples are honest and share their lives with each other (cf. Proverbs 24:26; Colossians 3:9-10). The couples who spark jealousy in those around them are those who have a life together. These are the people who share interests, have good conversations, and consider each other a best friend. They do not achieve this special place because “the universe” drew them to each other. They must keep prioritizing each other and sharing their hearts with each other. Getting married does not guarantee a best friend for life. Couples must be vulnerable and honest with each other to achieve that closeness, and they have to be willing to go on new adventures together.
- Lucky couples laugh at themselves and keep a good sense of humor about life (cf. Proverbs 17:22). Eric makes me laugh (often without meaning to) and I am grateful; and, we have our share of inside jokes as well. In my younger years, I had no idea how vital a good sense of humor was to a relationship, but I scream it from the rooftops now. It does not matter how gorgeous that specimen you are dating is – if he or she does not find humor in life, it is going to be a very, very long marriage.
- Lucky couples are good forgivers (cf. Ephesians 4:32). Ruth Bell Graham said it best: “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” You cannot be “lucky in love” for more than a few months without forgiveness. A sinner dating another sinner equals plenty of opportunities to show grace. A sinner married to a sinner equals a lifetime of opportunities to show grace.
- Lucky couples look to the future (cf. Psalm 71:18). Today is not all there is, and lucky couples know it. They can look past the struggle they are in right now, as hard as it may be, and see the other side. Laughing grandchildren. Sharing wisdom with younger couples. Being able to say, “I am so glad we did not give up on each other.”
- The “luckiest” lucky couples have an eternal perspective (cf. Romans 8:18). “Life is too short to be miserable.” I remember hearing a friend say this statement in response to her sister’s divorce. She was not happy, so she was getting out because life is short. No, life is not short. Life on earth is short – a vapor (James 4:14) – but eternity is long. What we deal with now is so miniature compared to what awaits God’s children in Heaven that Paul said it is it not even worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. The fight you had yesterday is not worth comparing. The financial trouble you are facing is not worth comparing. The disappointment of life not being what you imagined it to be is not worth comparing. Those who have fallen on God’s mercy, trusted in Christ’s sacrifice to save them, and are anxiously awaiting eternity with Christ know that whatever they face in their marriages, work, families, and lives – none of it is worth comparing to what lies ahead.
Ultimately, lucky couples are intentional couples. They are the ones who are proactive in their relationships and not reactive. They ask, “What can I do to make my marriage better?” rather than “Why won’t my spouse just change?”
- Lucky couples make their own luck, and when bad times come, they are not content to stay down.
- Lucky couples go through plenty of turmoil, but they cling to each other rather than blame each other.
- Lucky couples have a different mindset than unlucky couples.
- Lucky couples are typically less self-focused than unlucky couples.
This has been a convicting post for me to write. With each point I make I remember how I have failed – failed to listen well, failed to show gratitude, failed to forgive, etc. So, I am thankful for grace, second chances, and that we can decide to improve our relationships rather than hoping for our luck to change.
People who marry well aren’t lucky in love. They’re intentional in their path. — Steve Watters
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4, ESV)
How will you create a little “luck” in your relationship this week?