Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher hold the record for the longest marriage in American history: 86 years, 290 days. When asked to explain their secret, Zelmyra said, “There is no secret. It’s God who has kept us together.” She was not implying that marriage was always easy. It isn’t. Great marriages take hard work, but they are far from impossible.
Consider the following keys to a great marriage.
- Be patient with each other. We should be as patient with our spouses as we want God to be with us (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9).
- Be nice to each other. The old adage says, “You always hurt the ones you love.” That may be true, but it shouldn’t be. It is tragic that some people are kinder to strangers than they are to their spouse.
- Celebrate your spouse’s successes. Marriage isn’t a competition. Praise your spouse both in and out of their presence.
- Drop the ego. Lose the need to make sure your spouse knows how much you do for your home.
- Be courteous. Sadly, some stop showing common courtesy after marriage. Husband, do you open doors for strangers, but not your wife? Wives, do you parade your husband’s flaws before others?
- Seek to please your spouse more than yourself. Don’t insist on always getting your own way (Phil. 2:3-4).
- Lighten up. Some folks are too easily irritated, and this touchiness leads to petty arguments. Must your spouse walk on eggshells around you because you’re known to explode?
- Put away the ledger. Do you keep a mental record of your spouse’s mistakes so you can bring them up later when you think you need them? Be thankful God doesn’t do that (Heb. 8:12).
- Enjoy wholesome things. You will help your marriage immensely if you refuse to find joy in the things that sent Jesus to the cross.
- Learn to live with little annoyances. Your spouse probably has some little idiosyncrasies that get under your skin. Guess what: you have them, too. Refuse to let them create bitterness.
- Always assume the best. Be eager to give the benefit of any doubt, especially when you’re hurt. Spin things positively.
- Develop confidence for the future. Don’t just blindly wish for a successful family. Expect it. Work for it.
- Never give up. Ever. Your marriage is worth it.
When the Fishers were asked to share some advice that would help other couples experience a long and happy marriage, Zelmyra said, “Respect, support, and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest, and true. Love each other with all of your heart.” Love is the key. Work hard to show your spouse that you put him/her ahead of yourself.
That’s love. That’s a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. And that’s where you can find those 13 principles.