The Key to Every Successful Marriage

the key to every successful marriage

It’s been said that “A good marriage is the union of two forgivers.” As a wife who is often in need of grace and forgiveness, I couldn’t agree more. I know that my husband forgives me every day, often without telling me. You’d be surprised at the things that need forgiving: little things that I could’ve said better, mostly. It’s amazing to me how I can be the most inconsiderate to the ones I love the most. Ugh. Maybe you can relate.

It’s easy to take our marriage for granted. Over the years, I’ve spoken to many moms about this and it seems to be a common struggle.

Sometimes it’s easier to be kind to the woman in front of me at the check out in WalMart than it is to be tender-hearted toward my own husband. After all, the woman at the store might just haul off and kick me if I’m rude to her, right?!

Surely my husband won’t do the same thing. Why? He’s stuck with me. What is he going to do? Leave? Nah.

Don’t be so sure. It’s just a question of security, really. Most marriages don’t fall apart over night, they dissolve from neglect.

We easily take our most precious relationships for granted because we feel the most comfortable with the ones with whom our relationships are the most secure. Can you feel it?  Do you sense it? You know—that pull toward being so comfortable that you can say whatever you want to say without fear of losing your child or your spouse? It’s a universal truth: familiarity breeds contempt. Or rather, it breeds complacency. It’s easy to take a good marriage for granted.

Are you so comfortable that you say things you shouldn’t say? Are you prone to discouraging your husband’s dreams and desires because you think it there won’t be any consequences? Don’t fall for it. Complacency in marriage is a key ingredient in a marriage that’s doomed to failure. Add in a little discontent and a wandering eye … and—you guessed it—trouble is sure to follow.

Are you that person who suffers from complacency? Maybe you’re the wife who needs to lay down your pride and ask for forgiveness. If you’ve been ungrateful or unkind toward your husband, stop and think. What message are you sending to your children? Chances are very good that they know exactly what is going on, even if they can’t articulate it.

I’m so tired of hearing people say that marriage doesn’t matter and that divorce is just part of life today. It’s painful to read articles about Hollywood celebrities and how their divorces made them “better people.” How short-sighted!  I realize that we live in a broken world, and that sometimes, it can’t be avoided. However, more often than not, I truly believe divorces happen because we simply give up. We stop caring. We grow complacent. We forget that it matters.

Our children will likely model our relationships in their own adult lives. What example are we setting?  Having watched my own parent’s marriage dissolve, I can tell you, it matters. Marriage was meant to be for life. It’s a covenant relationship, and that’s no small thing.

If you’re in a tough spot in your marriage, know that healing can happen. I see it every day. Healing happens, but it takes effort. It takes intentional effort on the part of both husband and wife. More often than not, it requires forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the thing that carries us to the next place in our relationships. Forgiveness says, “I will” rather than “you should.” Forgiveness takes ownership of emotions and does not allow past hurts to poison future healing.

No one is perfect. We all have our sinful side. Without forgiveness, marriages are doomed to fail. Forgiveness is the most essential component to any successful marriage. The willingness to bear with the other person often defines whether or not the marriage is happy or miserable.

Do you need to be forgiven? Ask for it. Do you need to forgive? Don’t put it off.

Are you short on words of affirmation for your man? Purpose to TELL him how much you love him. Remind your husband about those qualities in him that you love and admire. Flirt with him. Invite him to bed for a change. Believe me, he’ll love you for it!

It’s never too late to invest in your marriage.
It’s never too late to forgive.

And it’s never to late to be forgiven. Your marriage is worth it.

A new generation is watching.



  • Nicole

    I love this, and this is exactly where I am in my marriage right now. Years of neglect have led to a hard spot. I’m praying for healing for my husband and working to improve my own issues and walk with God. Thank you for writing what I needed to hear. HOPE!

  • Elissa P

    Thank you Ms. Heidi for this timely reminder; so many times, we take our husbands for granted not realizing that our children are watching us. And as you have pointed out, if we are not careful our children will pattern our behaviors, be them good or bad.

    I also believe women should stop watching television shows that put women ahead of their husbands and belittled them all in the name of a ‘good’ laugh. Our children are watching us, but most important, God is watching us.

    Thank you again for your words of encouraging…

    Peace to you.

  • Adrienne

    I couldn’t agree more and I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. Thank you for this reminder to keep our husbands as important as others. We should be speaking kindly at home more than elsewhere to begin with. Thank God for his great mercy and grace.

  • Stuart D.

    Thank you for this article. I wanted to let you know that it is appreciated from a man’s perspective also. I and my wife have been going through some major struggles over the past several years and I am just now coming to the realization that it is because of this very thing, taking her and our relationship for granted. There have been many times that she has forgiven me instead of walking away like a lot of other women would have done by now, but she has gotten to the point where she is ready to finally walk away because she is tired of being hurt. Because I have finally figured out what I was doing, taking her for granted, we may still have a chance to repair this and come out stronger on the other side. I know that it is only by the grace of God shown through my wife that we have not already become a statistic.
    I know that this article seems to be directed towards women, but that is only because it was written from a woman’s perspective. These are life lessons that every man should take to heart as well and my hope and prayer is that my testimony here will encourage others.
    God Bless!

  • Judy

    WOW….I have been angry with my husband for about a week. He is out of town and we had a disagreement over the phone. He hung up on me. I’ve been waiting for him to contact me and he hasn’t. He has probably been waiting for me to contact him and I haven’t. This could go on forever, right? I was at my office working and checking my email and saw Kirk Cameron’s daily email message which said “The Key To A Successful Marriage.” Having been married for 36 years in April, and happily married for most of them, lately it seems that all my husband and I do is argue and fester. The festering comes from both of us being too stubborn to believe we could be the party responsible for the disagreement! I’m as guilty as he is but while I can more readily admit my shortcomings and apologize, he just refuses to do so and I have refused too often to let him off the hook which helps nothing. The old saying “Love means never having to say your sorry” has really done a lot of harm since Allie McGraw spoke it in “Love Story” if you ask me. I think the simple act of saying you are sorry is the very beginning of the healing process. I thought I had begun the step toward forgiveness for his hanging up on me and not calling me back – it has been 4 days of both our silence – moments before I saw Kirk’s email when my husband had posted for the 3rd time on FB “I love you Dear.” Knowing it WAS his way of making up, I had posted, FINALLY, “I Love YOU, MORE!” When I opened Kirk Cameron’s email it said, no YELLED, DIRECTLY AT ME (“Friends,) Do you practice forgiveness toward your spouse? One of today’s writers looks at why it’s vital to a successful marriage. May this article, along with the other great reads below, challenge and inspire you. Enjoy! Kirk” It was GOD Himself who grabbed me and sent this message to me by using Kirk Cameron as His instrument letting me know my response was not forgiveness and that I need his (my husband’s) forgiveness and he needs mine without either of us asking for it. Saying sorry would be nice, and something we should both work toward, but the act of forgiveness should always come first. Thank you, Kirk, Heidi St. John and God for this lesson. You are never too old to learn new lessons and sometimes God has to tell you so with intervention and using others!! I actually love it when He does that FOR ME.

  • Edie

    I really like this. My husband and I had been going thru a rough time the last few years. We were both very disrespectful to one another We didn’t do much with each other at all. We did our own thing.Saying sorry and forgiving is a big step. I believe I did all I could do. He moved out and decided a few months later he didn’t want to be married anymore. But I do still love and care for him. But our divorce was final about a week ago. It hurts but this is what he wanted. I pray that he makes peace and that he is happy. He will always have a big part in my life and heart. Only God knows where we go from here.

  • Diane

    Wow – God can speak through the Internet. Also having a rocky time in my marriage. Feel like I am never good enough no matter how much I do. It’s never enough! Sometimes I feel invisible. What I do is not noticed. What I haven’t done is almost always noticed. I was so sad with the state of our marriage that I bought myself flowers. He said he planned to buy me some and asked if he could pay for them. I said “No, you had opportunities to get them and never did”. Six months ago he bought me grocery store flowers and left the dying roses in the bunch. Guess I’m not special enough for him to stop in a florist. Do you see what I mean? So my head forgives but my heart takes much longer. I eventually do forgive but I need to feel special more often than when we make love. I need to have a higher priority in his life than I do now. I am a child of God and deserve to be treated as such. Thank you for this article. Certainly came at a perfect time.

  • Donna

    This was a great article and very encouraging for marriages. The enemy is busy trying to destroy our marriages at every turn. But the Bible says the love covers a multitude of sins. And you can’t have love without forgiveness. Jesus demonstrated His love for us when he was dying on the cross and He said Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Our marriages are suppose to represent Christ and the church and Christ is long suffering with His bride. And yes marriage is a covenant and not a contract and it is between you, your spouse and God and a three fold cord is not easily broken. All marriages have their struggles but we have to give up I and me for we and us. And we have to remember that PRIDE is the mother of all sins, that is why the Bible tells us to deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow Him. I am a witness that God can save a marriage because He saved my marriage and it all starts with forgiveness. The Bible says that he who is forgiven much loves much and Lord knows I have been forgiven for a lot so who am I to withhold forgiveness. The Bible also says to never let the sun go down on your wrath. What I also learned is forgiveness is for YOU because it sets you free. Tomorrow is not promised so I would encourage everyone to let go of all bitterness and anger and to out love each other. God bless!!

  • Sunstripe

    I am also in the midst of a terrible time in my marriage, and I am ready to walk away despite forgiving my husband for his infidelity. It’s been years of being taken for granted, abused emotionally, lies, and now he cheated on me, and I’ve got no more tears to cry. My children have been impacted negatively by our dysfunctions and I don’t want that to happen any more. My husband will not even consider intentionally working to save our marriage, and my one sided efforts seem to no avail. I can only conclude he doesn’t want to be with me any more and just doesn’t want to be responsible for admitting it. I’ve prayed and asked God to change his heart and my heart too. I don’t know what more I can do, and as much as I don’t want to be a statistic, I can’t stand to live like this any more. I’ve been through depression and suicidal thinking and by Gods help and grace come through it, and I don’t want to go back. So I have told him, either intentionally work with me to rebuild the marriage, or we’re done. I know he doesn’t respond well to ultimatums but I don’t care any more. I don’t know how else to get through to him – nothing I’ve tried over the years has worked. My kids are more than ready to leave. Please pray for us.

  • Sarah

    “He’s stuck with me. What is he going to do? Leave? Nah. Don’t be so sure. It’s just a question of security, really. Most marriages don’t fall apart over night, they dissolve from neglect.”

    This is so true! My ex-husband was abusive but did not have a physical affair, and for years he would mistreat me and then say, “What are you going to do, Sarah? Divorce me?” I felt so stuck, and finally, after 14 long years of abuse, I said, “Yes, actually, I AM leaving you!” Best decision I ever made.

  • Gracie

    Very nice article. Very encouraging for married couples. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. It is impossible for two imperfect individuals who are bound together to come up with a perfect marriage. Both are bound to sin and hurt each other one way or the other. But I believe there is such a thing as successful and happy marriage. For it has withstood time, overcomed troubles and hardship. As the author says, forgiveness is the thing that carries us to next place in their relationship. It does gets your relationship to a higher ground and more stable if both have learned from their mistakes. There is a quote that love is an endless act of forgiveness. This is best shown by Christ’s love towards the church. For a marriage to be successful and happy this kind of love must be shown towards each other.,God bless..

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