How to keep your marriage thriving
Most professions that require a license to perform your trade, like teachers, architects, nurses, or therapists, require you to maintain some minimal training in your discipline each year. A certain amount of hours must be spent staying abreast of any updates in your field. These are typically called “continuing education units,” or C.E.U.’s. These keep you up-to-date to some degree. You might receive them when you go to conferences or attend some lectures in your field. They force you to be deliberate in your specialty. It’s not enough to get your degree or certification. You must keep your skills in the forefront of your mind or you’ll diminish.
Not too many decades ago, “pre-marital counseling” didn’t exist. You were just expected to get to know each other via dating (for most of the Western population). Even today, most marriages have no real training to be certain that their marriage will last a lifetime (and yes, it is possible to be certain). You’re supposed to be able to maintain a thriving, joyful marriage with virtually no preparation. At minimum, you just try to copy some healthy parents or grandparents, read some books, or just “grin and bear it.” Still, others are able to receive some pre-marital counseling and have a better foundation for marriage. And this just goes for those who actually want to have a healthy marriage. So many get married because they want to fit into society, or make the parents happy, or assuage the guilt they feel for having lived together and/or because they have children.
Predicated on a multitude of studies conducted, around 40-50% of marriages (Christian or non-Christian) end in divorce. What most couples are doing ain’t workin’…(though there is some research that suggests that pre-marital counseling reduces the divorce rate).
What do we do now? How do we stop the overwhelming tide of divorce (when it’s not really necessary)?
We need marriage C.E.U.’s.
Really, we do. What I mean is, healthy marriages have healthy spouses that are constantly, deliberately focusing on the degree to which their marriage is healthy. They treat their marriages as seriously as they do their own specialist trade. They make their marriages so important to their lives that they fully understand and implement the healthy beliefs and healthy habits necessary for a thriving, healthy marriage.
Think about it. We spend years at school learning our trade—a trade that we will probably perform for the rest of our lives to some degree. Then, we keep abreast of our trade through the years receiving C.E.U.’s.
Healthy marriages are no different. They spend time learning about their marriage (during dating and in pre-marital counseling). This is when they learn the fundamentals of the “trade” of marriage. Then, we keep abreast of our marriage through the years by having deliberate times of focusing on our marriage.
What would marriage C.E.U.’s look like? It would involve a wide range of activities each year. For example, healthy couples would be attending marriage retreats and workshops, reading books on healthy marriage, going to a marriage counselor for a few sessions, meeting monthly with a healthy couple as mentors, joining a small group of married couples to learn from the group, and other activities.
There are many reasons not to focus on your marriage: fear of change; fear of rejection; fear of the unknown; fear of losing the comfortable; fear of losing your routines; fear of being seen as weaker than or wounded. One could list others, I’m sure.
What I do know for certain is this: none of those reasons is good. Not one.
And that’s good news. It means your marriage doesn’t have to be over. Your marriage can be healthy and thriving. It can survive trauma and disaster. It can. You might just need the right marriage C.E.U.’s necessary to help you get there.
What are you waiting on? This summer, get some marriage C.E.U.’s.