Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I am a 28-year-old single male, but I recently proposed to my girl. I want to get married fairly soon. I have been following you and you often talk about unconditional love in your articles. I know that love is needed to develop and sustain a marriage, but I am pretty sure that there are other things. You also talk about trust, respect and effective communication. But besides these things, what else is need to make marriage work? I want my marriage to start off on the right foot. What ingredients are needed to create a thriving and fruitful marriage?
Single, But Ready for Marriage
Dear Single, But Ready For Marriage,
Thanks for following me. Also, I applaud you for seeking information that will help you thrive after you get married. I felt a level of excitement as I read your question because most people ask this question after they are married.
You are correct in that I believe that unconditional love, trust, respect and effective communication are key ingredients for developing and sustaining a healthy and fruitful marriage. However, I do believe that there are 3 other ingredients that must be integrated into the healthy marriage recipe.
Ingredient #1 – Faith: an allegiance to a person.
Faith positions us to believe in things that we cannot see or prove at any given time. This is a critical ingredient in developing and sustaining a healthy relationship because marriage offers no guarantees.
We take our marriage vows hoping and believing that our love will last forever. This is the essence and meaning of faith. Marriage brings joy, but also challenges. You might not always understand your spouse’s intentions, desires or behavior, but you have to have faith in him or her.
Faith gives us the courage to move forward. We demonstrate faith by believing that God will bless our marriage. Marriage without faith is like a car without gas.
Ingredient #2 – Work: physical or mental activity that is done to achieve an objective.
Marriage is a beautiful union and can bring a wealth of joy if the right kind of work is conducted to sustain it. We often hear the saying that faith without work is dead. This is true because faith without work does not last.
After the exhilarating feeling of being in love weakens, reality sets in. The dynamics of being in a committed relationship (to include; building and maintaining a life together, adjusting to career shifts, parental responsibilities, occasional in-law dilemmas and life stressors in general) begin to take a toll on the relationship.
Now, individuals attempt to balance personal needs with their spouse’s needs, but find it difficult to do so at times. The hustle and bustle that comes with trying to secure and maintain the American dream and keeping a spouse, two kids and a dog happy, leaves little time to express physical, sexual and emotional affection. Sexual encounters are scheduled and are viewed as being part of the marital obligation. Complacency sets in and “I Love You is replaced with “You know I love you, I should not have to say it all the time”.
Examples of work include hugging, communicating, listening, sharing, forgiving, sacrificing, compromising and praying. Work is needed to sustain your faith and love. Marriage without work is like a business without clients – it cannot prosper.
Ingredient #3 – Money: coined or stamped metal currency.
Most people believe and agree that money cannot buy love. While this may be true, money can enhance your quality of life and provide security. I believe that money is a key ingredient in developing a healthy marriage because it influences how some people give and receive love.
As a marital therapist, I have witnessed marriages end due to disagreements and fights over money. Some people believe that money is the root of all-evil. I disagree. How people manage and use money is the root of all evil.
Make sure that you use money as a tool to enhance your marriage and not control it. Faith and work builds love, but money is needed to build a good life together. Financial stability and security reduces quality of life stressors. The acquisition and efficient use of money can contribute to enhanced connectivity and bonding in marriage. Remember, it is your responsibility as head of your household to provide for and protect your wife to be.
Marriage is not all about love. Faith, work and money are key ingredients to developing and sustaining a healthy marriage. Faith allows you to believe in the unseen, work motivates you to enhance your love and money makes it slightly easy to do the latter two.
Congrats on your engagement and favor! Proverbs 18:22 states: He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.