I’m walking out on a limb to point out the greatest predictor of loving, lasting marriages. I think the limb will hold my weight and more. That implies I’m confident about this declaration.

My confidence rests on my personal marital experience, years of study, a lifetime of observation, and several years of marriage coaching. I’ve personally witnessed marriages turn around based on this aspect of marriage.


The foundational truth that I’ve seen transform marriages and predict marriage success relates to the relationship’s foundation. The most successful marriages are built on the foundation of a spiritual covenant among the three, God and the couple, whereby the marriage-house is built on selfless love.

I spend hours unpacking that truth for couples. The couples who embrace this truth realize that a powerful ally now aids them in expressing selfless love to each other and others. The three-way spiritual covenant marriage experiences the most significant satisfaction and fulfillment from an eternal purpose. Sadly, our culture imbues us from childhood with the notion that the highest ideal of marriage is happiness.

Understand, I’m all for happy marriages. Yet, happiness describes an emotion, and emotions prove to be a volatile, up-and-down foundation for a relationship. One philosopher stated, “Emotions are great servants but terrible masters.”

My observations and personal experience agree. God’s selfless love purpose is well served by the emotion of happiness. Still, happiness is not necessary for a loving, lasting, fulfilling marriage.


A selfless love-based marriage enjoys benefits over a happiness-based relationship. Let me offer a couple.

FORGIVENESS. Every spouse will eventually hurt their partner. However, the presence of God’s selfless love in a relationship presents a more likely opportunity for a humble expression of repentance by the offender. The injured mate, possessed by selfless love, finds the inner strength to forgive the offense.

I have witnessed spiritually-based couples successfully work through severe marital issues, even infidelity. An emotionally based marriage rarely survives serious problems because happiness evaporates and anger burns. They usually cannot forget about themselves long enough to humbly confess and ask for forgiveness or humbly grant the grace of forgiveness.

How many couples leave a marriage with a heart full of painful emotions? They tend to carry the pain into the next relationship, tainting it from the start.

Couples’ many issues could be solved with selfless love expressed as forgiveness. But forgiveness implies the second benefit.

TRUST THE LOVE. If a couple chooses to follow God’s pattern of forgetting self and seeking God’s best for one’s beloved, forgiveness flows easier. Why? Because the couple trusts the love shared in the marriage. The foundation of selfless, sacrificial service of one another builds trust between spouses.

Doesn’t it make sense? You see that disposition if your husband treats you daily with a selfless and sacrificial servant heart. Yes, when your hubby says or does something that hurts you, the injury feels deep. But when he comes to you humbly admitting his fault and asking for your forgiveness, you can trust the love he’s given you. Your happiness at that moment may have bottomed out. Still, since your relationship is based on selfless love, you remember his daily disposition. You can humble yourself enough to grant him grace. You selflessly move toward one another despite the offense.

After 44 years of marriage, my bride and I have learned that a selfless love foundation builds a trusting relationship. But unfortunately, we occasionally fail each other. In those painful moments, we’ve often seen how we can take a deep breath and put this incident in the context of a selflessly sacrificial relationship. We learn to trust the other’s love when confession is made and forgiveness requested. We accept each other’s imperfections because selfless love sees beyond the unhappy moment.

While we could discuss other benefits, these two alone would improve many marriages, don’t you think?

For those reasons, I believe the most successful and last marriage is founded on a couple’s covenant with God to selflessly and sacrificially seeks God’s best for one’s spouse. The spiritually based marriage begins with more excellent resources for longevity and satisfaction than the emotionally based relationship.

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