7 Postures for a Happy Marriage — Especially When Opposites Attract

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5 Ways Couples Can Forgive and Move Past Disagreements in Their Marriage

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My husband and I have been married for 23 years. We sometimes joke about the fact that our parents even let us get married at such an early age. Why did they let us go through with such a big decision? We had no idea what we were doing. Not that many newlyweds do.

Mostly, we had no idea how different we were. My husband and I are total opposites in almost every way; we are not compatible on paper, at all.

Yet we’ve done the work to make our marriage work.

Now, 23 years later, we are church leaders and parents of three sons, and we are still doing the work of loving each other. We are often asked about the secret to making a marriage last between two opposite personalities.

For us, a happy marriage is not so much a list of dos and don’ts, but it is a few postures and decisions we’ve chosen to adapt as marital values. Here are a few:

1. Grab a Hold of Jesus’ Forgiveness

Elizabeth Elliot was thought to have said something like, “A happy marriage is made up of two people who forgive each other for the rest of their lives.” Marriage between two limited, imperfect human beings requires a whole heckuva lot of forgiveness.

And often — just being honest here — we don’t have that in us. Because of our pride or anger or human selfishness, it can be easy to hold grudges rather than choose grace. So, this is when we need to access Jesus’ unending forgiveness.

This is when we need to posture ourselves before God and ask for help, “Jesus, give me the ability to forgive my spouse today, because you have forgiven me so much.”

Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This posture of forgiveness is crucial to embrace for a happy, lasting marriage.

2. Have Fun, Be Playful, Laugh a Lot

As I said, my hubs and I are opposites. We don’t enjoy the same activities. We don’t ever want to watch the same shows or listen to the same style of music. On paper, we are actually totally wrong for each other.

But we are intentional about laughing together. Scripture reminds us that laughter is good medicine, good for the heart (Proverbs 17:22), and it’s just as true in the heart of a marriage.

A couple who can laugh together can have fun together — and that’s a meaningful way to make life’s burdens lighter together.

3. Choose Self-sacrifice

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). This Scripture, along with others like it, is the real work of love and marriage.

In public, as in private, honor one other. Put the other first. Lay down each other’s lives — in the big sacrifices and the small ones — so that you are truly putting on a posture of love.

Choose selflessness every moment you can. This can be hurtful if both spouses aren’t posturing themselves towards self-sacrifice. But if each of you is committed to that — what a beautiful picture of love you’ll display to each other and to the world around you.

4. Know That Different Isn’t Bad

In marriage, especially as the years go on, it can be so easy to start telling yourself a false story about your spouse — especially if you are different from one another.

One of you might be future-oriented, while the other is in the moment, but the stories you tell yourself in that difference are where the work of marriage really comes in.

If you begin to place a value on your differences, if you begin to assume that your spouse is bad or has shortcomings simply because he or she is different than you, your marriage will never thrive. We must remember again and again that different isn’t bad.

In fact, our differences can be gifts that help sharpen and shape the other. Accept your differences. Learn to appreciate them. And refuse to let the stories you tell yourself about your spouse get negative or harmful.

5. Get Help

Go to therapy. Go to therapy. Go to therapy. There is no shame, in fact, there is only wisdom in seeking guidance from a wise counselor, especially when the pain and conflict in marriage is too much to bear. Go often. Go every few years. Get help.

Therapy saves marriages. Period. As the sage of Proverbs said, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise person is the one who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15).

6. Repair Matters

Healthy conflict includes healthy repair. When your nervous system has calmed down after a fight, and when you are both in a more peaceful emotional place — that is the moment to do the work of active listening, of emotional repair, and of healing.

Especially for couples who tend to be opposites, it’s worth scheduling intentional time for repair after a conflict, and even worth pausing the conflict in the moment if you are getting too heated.

The way you have conflict and repair that conflict’s damage matters as much as, if not more, than the actual content of the argument itself. Colossians reminds us to bear with one another and forgive each other. We do this best through intentional, ongoing emotional repair.

7. The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It

This posture will save many marriages. If we aren’t careful, we can tend to believe the lie that we married the wrong person or that someone else — someone more like us — would make us happy.

But the marriage that we invest in, is the one that blossoms and grows. Make bids for affection, date, choose each other. Water your marriage and the grass will be green.

I definitely don’t believe in any silver bullets for a successful marriage, but I do believe in a few postures — a few stances — that will help make a marriage between opposites last — and make it last with success and joy.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/OJO_Images


Aubrey SampsonAubrey Sampson is a pastor, author, speaker, and cohost of the podcast, Nothing is Wasted. She is the author of Big Feeling Days, The Louder Song, Overcomer, and her newest release, Known. Find and follow her @aubsamp on Instagram. Go to aubreysampson.com for more. 

This article originally appeared on Christianity.com. For more faith-building resources, visit

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