What are strong marriages made of?


A spin off of the previous post abot marriage.
Many of us married and unmarried people live with the impression that a strong marriage is just a life of bliss, I think it's a good reality check to see some of the challenges these strong, happy marriages overcame or dealt with.

You can check off as many as you like. I hope unmarried people will take a good look.
I didn't have room for "OTHER" so if you want to add those separately in your post it'd be great. I'm sure there can be many more and possibly even more serious thsan the stuff I came up with.

I broke down infidelity in 2 parts because I think that's something that affect ALL marriages be it physical, emotional, one-time or long-term issues and while they do all fall under the same category I think it's one thing to have a spouse lapsing here and there back into a porn issue or a spouse getting too "friendly" with a coworker during a phase, and another thing all together to have been through a long-term physical and emotional affair.

Unfortunately, marriages aren't made of sugar and spice and all things nice and I think that that's how God's love shines through in us and that's why our faith must be in Him and not in how happy our spouse can make us


We've dealt/are dealing with infertility. Secondary, as we do have one child. It has never really put a strain on our marriage; if anything, it has brought us closer and made us stronger. We constantly talked and talked and still talk occasionally just to be sure that we are both still in the same place with it, still have the same desires on how to handle it, etc.


Strong marriages give the outward impression that they are smooth sailing at all times.

But when you look closely, all marriages [or most of them] have ups and downs.

If your expectations are of smooth sailing at all times, then you will be disillusioned when things get stormy. And, that seems to be when marriages break up.

Decades ago, we moved to a town that was really "nice". The Catholic parish was really "nice". The people were really "nice". They were up-scale ... much more so than us.

But then we joined some of the parish groups and learned that this "niceness" was really the result of very strong coping skills.

That's the only expression I can come up with:

"Strong Coping Skills" and ... resilience.

Without exception, every one of those up-scale, tony households had been hit with one or more horrible events: the death of a child or major illness of a spouse or major financial reverses or loss of job or miserable in-laws or extensive job travel with family separation or extensive family relocations or sudden major unexpected expenses. Even terrorist attacks on top of everything else.

But they just didn't fall to pieces.

They just handled them. If they had to cut back on expenses, that's what they did. They encouraged their kids to do their schoolwork and homework. They encouraged their kids. The level of patience they exhibited was inspiring.

And if things got out of hand, they firmly dealt with the problems, and not by taking it out on one another.

When faced with major expenses, they actually did DIY projects and/or shopped around for the best bids or best deals. Or they just deferred stuff and did without and if asked they explained what they did and why. But they didn't make a Greek tragedy about their problems.




After 29 years of marriage, the most important thing that has made our marriage very strong has been making each other each other's our best friends. We don't tell our buddies/girlfriends our personal troubles before we tell each other. We don't have exclusive friends... we have friends as a couple, and even those that one of us don't care for, we still make time to be aquaint ourselves to that person and letting that person see us as a set rather than a single.
We've made sure that we tell each other everything, that we laugh together, that we include each other in our lives. It's not always easy to do, but when we start with that, the difficulties become easier to handle. It's not as easy to be a me against you thing when you are actually friends with your spouse.

There are times when one of us starts closing up due to anger or even neglecting the other person, but when that other person starts to give a hug as they go by, or smile and truly show interest and love to the person, the shell breaks open more easily.

Burdens, troubles become a joint problem rather than only one person being responsible. It's not just me against the world... it's US against the world.


Strong marriages are lived in the image of the Trinity. Trinitarian love is the model.

Selfless sacrifice - God the Son offering himself on the cross to God the Father is Trinitarian love. "God so loved the world that he gave his only son" is Trinitarian love. Selfless sacrifice of our own will to that of the other makes strong marriage.

When you are willing to die for Jesus, that is love. You have to be willing to put aside your own will for that of your spouse, that's love. A gift of everything you have, including your will, that is what is required for a strong marriage.

Few can do it. Nobody ever explained to me the sacramental nature of marriage lived in the image of trinitarian love. I wasn't able to do it.



I have to disagree with the notion that infidelity is something that has affected all marriages, unless you are saying that those types of infidelity would affect a marriage if they were to go through it?


according to your poll, i have not endured any of the things you posted. the only issue has been related to my mother in law. but i would not call it serious. it is more of a challenging relationship where she is always pushing the boundaries of my marriage as i see them (she sees differently). i have been married for 7 years. one option you don't have on your list is interpersonal challenges between spouses- my husband and i are very different and continue to have issues in the way we operate. we are both stubborn and selfish more than we should be.


Married 12 years this November. Long enough to have some informed opinion on the matter but not long enough to be considered an expert. :p

  1. Like another poster, we married our best friends.
  2. We married late. I was 40; he was amost 42. Not ancient exactly, but maturity has given us a stability we wouldn't have had if we'd married 20 years younger.
  3. Neither of us married thinking we were going to change, improve, or rescue the other. We married people, not projects.
  4. Our value systems, while not 100% in line, mesh very closely.
  5. We make each other laugh. Every day.
  6. We're husband and wife first, parents second. Our kids know this.
  7. While I like to think we have a strong marriage, I don't expect my husband to be everthing to me, and I don't expect to be my husband's only social network. We have many friends in common, but each of us has friends the other doesn't.
  8. I don't get sexually jealous. He's got female friends, some of whom I've never met, and I'm just thankful he genuinely likes women. I don't know if he looks at pornography, but if he does I'm of the opinion that's between him, God, and his confessor. I don't monitor his emails, phone, or other electronic devices, and I would be in this marriage if he monitored mine.
  9. We're not afraid to get counseling when we need it. We don't avoid the therapist's office out of some misguided fear we heading towards divorce if we do.
  10. We pray together every day. When one of us isn't traveling, we're at Mass every HDoO together.

The biggest strain on our relationship is financial, which is a topic that should be brought up more on these threads. There's are any number of threads about birth control and NFP and sexuality, many of which cover the same issues ad nauseum, but just given the results of this pole thus far there are plenty of couples for whom money and jobs (or a lack thereof) are a biggie.


I have had 6 of these challenges in my 26 year marriage, plus some others not listed. What made the marriage survive? God's grace. Seeking Him when we fell apart. Sometimes only one of us did the seeking, sometimes both. Counseling, prayers, etc. were all part of it but God's grace and healing is the bottom line.


Although the first item re: Infidelity indicates that porn would be a "mild" problem, it usually doesn't feel at all mild when a wife is trying to deal with the intense hurt caused by her husband using other "virtual" women to appease his sexual appetite. Unfortunately, many marriages have been destroyed by porn, and those that haven't have likely only survived by the amazing grace of God - and a lot of very hard work.

Just something for any unmarrieds reading this poll to think about real seriously before making the commitment of a lifetime.

Interesting poll - thanks for posting it.


Another thing that comes to mind (because I'm a bit emotional right now w/ some things going on in my life)...

Be in tune with your spouse's emotions. My husband knows that I am a very, very emotional woman. I cry at commercials, movies, news stories (heck, I shed a tear watching the shuttle launch today!), etc. He doesn't tell me to "get over it", or through out advice on what I "should" do. He lets me cry on his shoulders; he listens to the "why" behind my tears,etc.

Big example - in June of 2009, one of my best friends moved away (out of state), another passed away. Now, in a week, my other super close friend is moving away (out of state). I feel, to a degree, that I have basically lost all my close girlfriends. My dh could easily say "suck it up", "make new friends", and so on. Instead, he LISTENS. He understands that you just don't start grabbing new confidants. And when, because I want to grow closer to some of my other female friends so that I do have that person locally to turn to, he encourages me to go out with them from time to time. He recognizes my needs and takes care of them.

Also - recognize the physical changes in one another (and I'm not talking sexuality here). We went through about a 1 1/2 yr. spell a few years back where we bickered...A LOT. Anyone who knows us knows that we just.don't.fight. EVER. So for us to be continuously bickering, to the point of some really nasty arguments that gave both of us some moments to not be proud of, something had to be wrong. It was during this time that I realized that something wasn't right when my dh was sleeping. I gently encouraged him to go to the dr., telling him what I was hearing. Turns out he has severe sleep apnea and will forever be on a cpap machine when he sleeps (his is not due to anything he can change). Had I not been in tune with everything, my dh could've died far too young, as the dr. told him that his is severe enough that w/out the machine, he could stroke out at night. :eek: Praise God that I was listening!

Within a month after getting his machine, we both noticed that we hadn't had a single argument - of course not - we were both getting sleep, and dh, more importantly, was getting oxygen! It was then that we sat back, had a long chat, and realized that during that time of insane bickering, neither of us were getting restful sleeps as a result of his apnea.

Anyway - this got longer than I planned. Bottom line - listen to God, listen to your heart, and be in tune with each other - both physically and emotionally. Know each others needs, communication styles, etc. Be best friends before you are lovers.



Just kidding. ;)


For Catholics, strong marriages are marriages that are firmly grounded in the Faith. Strong marriages have a great likelihood of producing saints like Catherine of Sienna. Work on becoming the best, true Catholic that you can and all other aspects of your life will follow.


This is a good thread... one that needs to be mentioned.

We've been married 10 1/2 years, pregnant with our 4th child now... so we have a little experience under our belts.
I actually think an "easy" marriage would be one prone to not last... sometimes it's necessary to go through hardships in order to look back in appreciation for what you have. Marriage is about loving and protecting one another, despite the attacks of Satan from all angles. Sometimes he attacks couples together, other times he tries to separate them apart... and he only is interested in destroying the most holy marriages, so those who have struggled and survived are testimonies to the fidelity of the Sacrament.
Only prayer and faith can bring us closer to holiness... both individually and as a couple.


[quote="Em_in_FL, post:15, topic:247385"]
This is a good thread... one that needs to be mentioned.

We've been married 10 1/2 years, pregnant with our 4th child now... so we have a little experience under our belts.
I actually think an "easy" marriage would be one prone to not last... sometimes it's necessary to go through hardships in order to look back in appreciation for what you have. Marriage is about loving and protecting one another, despite the attacks of Satan from all angles. Sometimes he attacks couples together, other times he tries to separate them apart... and he only is interested in destroying the most holy marriages, so those who have struggled and survived are testimonies to the fidelity of the Sacrament.
Only prayer and faith can bring us closer to holiness... both individually and as a couple.


This seems true. I have been with my wife 23 years and we have 4 kids. We have literly been through hell and back and it seems to be one of the times of "hell" now. Not sure if the marriage will survive. We have fought cancer together...direct attacks before, but I have never had an enemy as formible as material things to distract and resentment from past struggles. Combine those two things and it is poison to a marriage.


A strong marriage is made of a shared faith in God and in the Church that holds the fullness of Truth. A trust in God's Word through the Bible as well as the Bishops and Magesterium.

I am dealing with a lot of issues in my marriage and we have not overcome any of them. I believe it is because we do not share a faith.



I recently did a blog post called "Can Prayer Save a Marriage?."

I examined the existing research on what makes a marriage work and what increases the likelihood of divorce. I also connected the results with studies on how regular attendance at church decreases the chance of divorce.

I think family prayer greatly increases one's chance of having a successful, long-term marriage.

According to research, successful marriages tend to have the following conditions (some we can control, some we cannot):

  1. Less infidelity
  2. Satisfying sexual intimacy
  3. Agreement on division of labor in the household
  4. No major money issues
  5. Regular attendance at mass and prayer in the home
  6. The wife is 4 years younger
  7. The younger wife is more educated
  8. Neither partner had a divorced parent

What I don't know is if prayer and a good church life can overcome the ill effects of an illicit affair, loss of sexual intimacy, previously divorced parents, etc. I'm still looking into that.


Had our third child born with multiple birth defects - we kind of went on auto-pilot and just dealt with it, one step at a time. In that sense it made our marriage stronger.

When we fight we fight over stupid stuff, because we're tire or stressed. One thing I learned was not to fight in bed at night.


Some on CAF claim to have perfect marriages, but this is simply not true. They "perceive" their marriage to be "perfect", but their marriage is no more perfect than another strong marriage with ups and downs.

Some take a practical approach to marriage and admit that they have ups and downs that they have overcome with patience and understanding.

Some look at the big picture and say that they have a wonderful marriage and they are closer than ever when in reality, their marriage is just as strong as the former.

I'll never forget this...there was this CAF woman who would go on and on about how perfect her marriage was and I used to look up to her and wish that I had that marriage. I would envy her and wish my husband was more like her's.

Well fastforward two years, she is now going through a divorce. She won't give any details on CAF.

I simply don't believe people who say their marriage is perfect. It's just not true.

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