If you ask an old couple for the secret of their long marriage, you will get varying answers.  My son and I were talking about this very thing today.  What are the foundation blocks to a good marriage, or relationship for that matter?  He said he saw three things: 1) love, 2) being equally yoked, and 3) the willingness to work out the differences that will occur.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term being equally yoked, it comes from having fairly similar farm animals having a yoke that spans across both their necks to equally pull the weight of the plow.  The yoke also keeps the animals together headed down the same furrow.

I agreed, but used the concept of “teach-ability” for the third category.  I have found if another person is willing to learn from mistakes, challenges, and the need for growth then there is fertile soil for growing a relationship.  In myself as well as with the other person.  Without that willingness, it’s like hitting one’s head up against a wall.  Frustration builds until one thinks, “What’s the use.  This is not going to change.”  Isolation sets in, and an emotional wall starts to build.  Eventually, there is nothing left but habit and convenience.  Gone are the lifeblood, the nurturing, and joy of being together.  A way to avoid this disaster is open communication.  A professor of mine once said, “Good communication is the oil of relationships.”

Building a strong foundation is important for a marriage.  This generation and culture finds it a little ridiculous to wait until marriage for sex.  There were expectations, say 50 years ago, to have a courtship first.  Now I know there were a lot of backseat romances where they didn’t wait, and I’m not making judgement on them, but the courtship period let people get to know different potential partners until compatibility could be established (or the potential of future employment).  I believe that once the couple have had sexual relations, then a bonding has occurred.  I don’t know if you could call it emotional or spiritual or both.  A psychiatric nurse once told me that some women become so splintered from changing sexual partners, they need to have an inner healing.  Thus the term a “renewed virgin.”

God gave directions for courtship and marriage, and those who have followed His plan report there is a special blessing and joy from honoring it and each others well-being.  But this article wasn’t supposed to be about sex, but about building strong relationships, so I’ll throw in a few more words of wisdom.  Think of the other one’s needs first, be quick to forgive and to overlook imperfections, and my own personal philosophy: You’re going to suffer if you try to walk all over me…  Just kidding, I’m a softie.