Great Marriages Don’t Just Happen

Imagine this: You’re sitting in Carnegie Hall, watching one of the world’s greatest violinists perform with breathtaking skill and artistry. His fingers are flying over the strings. The music fills the hall. He doesn’t miss a note.

The audience erupts as he finishes the concert, and you are among them. The music moves you. The beauty and talent on display have inspired you.

That evening, at a late dinner following the concert, you see that same musician ushered in to a nearby table. You gather up the nerve and greet him. Suddenly you’re face-to-face with one of the world’s most talented musicians.

He shakes your hand as you introduce yourself. Graciously, he asks if you enjoyed the concert.

“Yes,” you say. “That was the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.”

He nods and thanks you for the kind words, but you keep talking. “You’re so lucky to be able to play with such perfection. It must be great to have been born with so much talent, and then to have found a violin that fits your hands so perfectly. I wish I could find an instrument like that.”

His smile fades. He raises an eyebrow. You’re still talking.

“You know, I’ve always wanted to play the violin. I’ll take it up someday. I’ve got the talent, I think, but just haven’t found the right violin for me. As soon as I find one that suits me like that one suits you, I’ll be able to play as well as you do.”

Hopefully you’re cringing right now, because these words are not something you would ever say to a world-class musician. It would be a monumental insult.

Violinists don’t become great by accident. They aren’t born that way. They don’t stumble upon the “perfect instrument.” They excel because of hours and hours of hard work and diligence.

Musical greatness takes practice and sacrifice. It takes a lifetime of dedication. It requires an intentional decision to do whatever is needed to become the best musician possible.

And yet how many of us might look at a happily married couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary—a man and woman who’ve navigated decades of life, stress, bills, work and kids but still seem so in love—and tell ourselves how “lucky” they are?

How fortunate to discover your soul mate and grow old together! If I could find my perfect mate, I could have a happy marriage just like that…

That kind of thinking is naïve and wrong. Great marriages aren’t made from luck or because a person finds his or her “soul mate.” They don’t happen this way any more than accomplished musicians become great by accident.

Like any skill, love only thrives with time, patience and diligence. Great marriages require great effort. It takes years of consistency and devotion to do whatever it takes to make marriage the best it can be.

That’s the first thing you must realize before pursuing a deep, meaningful, long-lasting love affair with your spouse: that you both must be ready to put in the work. Are you willing?

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