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Secret To A Great Relationship: Part 1

Secret to a great marriage
Photo courtesy of carynnoel.com
This is the first of an 8-part series from Jimmy Evans at MarriageToday from his book, Our Secret ParadiseSeven Steps for Building a Secure and Satisfying Marriage. This series focuses on the 4th secret—Friendship. Even before marriage, these keys will help you become the kind of person you want to date and the kind of person to look for in a potential mate.

Key For Friendship : Introduction

Friendship is a fundamental need of the human heart. Although they shed little or no light on the question of what a real friend is, even the sitcoms that have dominated TV programming in recent years attest to the fact that the subject of friendship—or, more accurately, our deep hunger for friendship and our pain when it is missing—is an ever-present human need.

But the TV sitcoms, soaps and dramas have also perpetuated the myth that we can be driven solely by our selfish desires and still somehow experience meaningful friendship. In reality, just the opposite is true.

Part of the reason friendship is so hard to find stems from our culture’s push to immediately sexualize a relationship between a man and a woman. The physical intimacy that many couples get involved in very early in their dating relationship prevents true friendship from ever developing. Many couples, instead of sitting down to talk or going out just to have fun, jump on the fast track to sex. The result is an emotional stunting of the relationship.

Some couples take it a step further. Not only do they meet and begin sexual intimacy very quickly, but they also choose to live together in a pretend marriage before they are actually married. Many try to justify living together by saying, “Before I get married, I want to know this other person intimately to see if we’re compatible.” Pretend marriage doesn’t work, because it’s stolen intimacy.

People who live together before marriage experience more abuse, more infidelity, more break-up, more disappointment—more problems in every category—than people who do not cohabit before marriage. A couple that lives together before getting married is 50 percent more likely to divorce after marriage than a couple who did not cohabit. The reason for such a high divorce rate in those situations is lack of commitment to the relationship.

The divine purpose of courtship is to get to know each other’s hearts, not each other’s bodies. The purpose of courting is not to see how good you are together in bed; it is to see how good you are together out of bed. Think about it: Even a married couple with an unusually active sex life will spend only a tiny percentage of their total relational time having sex. That’s why it’s so important to develop a friendship with each other and to find out the other person’s character.

In contrast to living together, statistics and scientific studies show that women who are married are the most protected women on Earth. Sure, there are some abusive husbands out there. But on the whole, marriage is a highly protecting environment for women. Other relational environments for adult women are not nearly as sheltering.

That brings up another problem too common in our society—the fact that many couples do not date long enough. I think six months to two years is adequate time for a couple to get to know each other well enough to know if they should marry—especially if their courtship is in the right environment. But significant numbers of couples are getting married just a few weeks or months after they meet! Clearly, not all of those relationships are doomed; but a short courtship, a very troubled courtship, or a sexual courtship prevents deep friendship from developing.

Although premarital sex is certainly a growing reason why friendship fails to develop into marriages, it is not the only cause. In many cases, either through neglect or misdirected focus, couples stop pursuing the goal of becoming best friends. That’s certainly the way it was with Karen and me. We began our relationship as friends. Before we got married, we spent a lot of quality time together and really enjoyed being with one another. But after we married, the friendship stopped developing and soon deteriorated. We didn’t have much fun together anymore. The situation became so serious that we didn’t even want to be around one another. So we simply replaced each other with other friends in our lives.

Whatever the reason, marriages that have been robbed of friendship are missing a vital element in making a relationship a paradise. If friendship has grown cold in your marriage or was never given an opportunity to develop in the first place, you can change that. You can turn that lack of friendship around by repenting and taking seven simple steps to becoming best friends with your spouse.

Be sure to read the rest of the series.

This excerpt is from chapter 10 of Jimmy Evans’ book, Our Secret Paradise published by Regal Books. Used with permission from MarriageToday.

About MarriageToday with Jimmy Evans

Since founding MarriageToday in 1994, Jimmy and Karen Evans have encouraged and coached countless couples in building rewarding marriages and healthy homes. With more than 50% of unions in America ending in divorce, the Evans are committed to sharing proven truths that can make the most troubled marriage good, and any good marriage great. They bring more than 25 years experience equipping and teaching couples to MarriageToday’s mission to restore the dream of marriage in America. Jimmy and Karen divide their time between Amarillo, Texas, where Jimmy serves as Head Elder of Trinity Fellowship, and Dallas, the location of MarriageToday’s headquarters. He and Karen have two grown children and four grandchildren.
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