Marriage is at the heart of a healthy family

Psychologists and theologians agree that moms and dads that are faithful, affectionate, and present in the home are the gold standards of family systems. But what are the deeper habits or characteristics of such healthy family systems? In my years in ministry, I noticed some patterns.

  1. Healthy couples worship together.
  2. Healthy couples share values.
  3. Healthy couples love on purpose.
  4. Healthy couples share life and laugh.
  5. Healthy couples grind out problems.

First, healthy couples worship together. If this seems self-explanatory, it is. Our vital relationship with Jesus is evident in our obedient lives. There is no more significant sign of two lives desiring the things of God than bended knees of devotion to Jesus Christ on Sunday mornings. We all live beauty-filled lives in the context of sins forgiven and holiness embraced. I reason this to be true.

Second, healthy couples cherish virtues. These values tether them together with airplane cables. Consider how these couples reach an acceptable resolution in conflict. Their value system synthesizes each personality and desires into a preferred, shared direction. Because they agree upon a preferred outcome and share the importance of faith, hope, love, honesty, modesty, integrity, prudence, temperance, fortitude, goodwill, kindness, fair treatment, and other virtues, this levels and binds them into contentment. They commit to resolving conflict appropriately.

Third, I noticed that marriages that work are sacrificial in love. This love is true agape. It is what Paul means in calling husbands to love their wives like Jesus loved the church. True love takes the willingness to sacrifice but is not resentful and self-loathing. It enjoys the cost.

Fourth, Lydia and I have noticed that couples who “live life” and laugh together seem to flourish. They are what we call “very normal.” They see themselves as “team us.” They live humorously and comfortably together, enjoying a “welcoming” yet proper privacy fence around their home (see friends and extended family boundaries.)

Last, grinding in the hours of trial. Life is harrowing. It is an embracement while in pain that unifies couples. I have observed the unity of incredible couples who suffer vicariously. We witness true divine mystery when observing couples who suffer successfully. They bond in the pain of losing jobs, loved ones or even while dealing with prodigal children. This unity seems to take prayer and heavy doses of God’s grace with each other. It is divine.

In closing, to our church family. I want you to know that our staff and myself are cheering and praying for your marriages. I trust these observations will mean something to you as we focus on the family over the next few weeks.