What Makes a Marriage Good?

“A good marriage is built by two people’s capacity to adjust to bad things.”

Ask most people this question and you’ll undoubtedly hear something about love. But ask anyone who has given serious thought, dedicated themselves to study and research of the topic, and you’ll hear a different answer. Better yet, ask this question to couples who have a good marriage in spite of the bad things they’ve encountered and you’ll hear the answer that matters most. That’s what we did and it became the reason for writing our book. Here’s what they told us: A good marriage is built by two people’s capacity to adjust to bad things. In survey after survey, when we asked couples to crystallize their thoughts on what makes a marriage good and successful, that was their answer. And when we pushed them to flesh out that answer, we learned the secrets these smart couples hold.

A good marriage is made up of…

  • Two people who take ownership for the good as well as the bad. They are a responsible couple.
  • Two people believing good wins over bad. They are a hopeful couple.
  • Two people walking in each other’s shoes. They are an empathic couple.
  • Two people healing the hurts they don’t deserve. They are a forgiving couple.
  • Two people living the love they promise. They are a committed couple.

From all that we can gather, these five qualities are the armament used to protect good couples from the destruction of bad things: ownership, hope, forgiveness, empathy, and commitment. And it is these five qualities that we devote later parts of our book When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages to, giving you practical ways to cultivate them in your own marriage. Before we get there, however, there is an important question that needs consideration. It is one that lingers in the mind of every couple who’s love has bumped into bad things. And how you answer it will determine how well you learn to protect the love you cherish. Why do bad things happen to a good marriage?

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