A long-lasting, happy marriage requires commitment from both partners. Many factors work together to strengthen the marriage and provide couples with the ability to weather life's trials. The following have played an important role in our successful marriage and family. Some came with the union, and some we've learned during our almost 30 years of marriage.

Religion and marriage

One of the first questions I asked my husband, when we were dating, was did he believe in Jesus. Both my husband and I were ready for marriage. After a year of dating, we decided to tie the knot despite concerns it wouldn't work because we belonged to different denominations. I regularly attended church, and he did not. Statistically, we shouldn't be happily married, but I knew he was the answer to my prayers, sent to me by God, and he knew I was the one for him.

Studies, like the 2001 study by Annette Mahoney et al., discovered what we learned; religion plays an important role in marriage commitment. Faith in God, Jesus Christ, your marriage and each other are valuable elements that strengthen the marriage and family through familiar values. Common religious beliefs provide the needed strength to get through life's trials and, as this study found, lowers the risk of divorce.

Brody, Stoneman, Flor, McCrary, 1994, and Mahoney et al., 1999, found religious couples used religious guidelines, communication and discussion skills to resolve their conflicts. They did this with the knowledge they wanted to remain in the marriage and, for some, the marriage was considered sacred.

Friendship and marriage

A close marital friendship is created by two people who care about each other such as couples who trust each other enough to share their deepest feelings without fear of judgment. Spouses that are friends follow the code of friendship and stick up for each other through thick and thin. They honor each other's opinions, and know they don't always have to be right. The bonds of friendship result in a happy marriage that protects them from outside influences.

Sharing and marriage

Share everything with your spouse: interests, activities, joy, pain, thoughts and feelings. My husband and I participated in different interests and activities prior to our marriage. When we shared these with each other, we found some that became ours. It's OK to do separate things like girls or guys nights out, just don't forget to have your nights out, too. Shared interests and activities are important for giving strength and longevity to your marriage.

Sharing creates a loving friendship based on familiarity with each other's likes, dislikes, fears and trusts. This helps the couple turn to each other during life's trials with a sustaining bond that helps keep the marriage on track.

Love and marriage

Love strengthens the marriage through satisfaction and grows best in an environment of constant appreciation and gratitude. I never tire of hearing my husband tell me he's glad he found me. When I think about him, I know he is and always has been the one for me. I can't imagine myself without him.

Don't underestimate the power of love to bind and strengthen a marriage and family. "I love you," hugs, kisses, a quick, "how are you doing," phone call in the middle of the day, and tokens of appreciation and gratitude increases the feelings of love to the recipient and by the giver. This, in turn, produces a higher level of happiness in the marriage.

Happiness and marriage

There are many benefits to marriage. Happiness is one of them, but a study done by "Grove, Style, and Hughes, 1990," determined marrying to receive the benefits of marriage, did not, necessarily, lead to that benefit.

Happiness in marriage comes about because couples enter marriage with the knowledge that, or learn after marriage, commitment is important to the relationship. I'm definitely happier now than at any time in our marriage because together, my husband and I learned what it takes to be truly happy. Check out "6 essential ingredients for a long, happy marriage" to learn more.

Commitment to these factors, your marriage and your spouse strengthens the marriage and the family against trials and provides a long, happy marriage. A marriage based on anything else: physical attraction, money, lust, or, as stated earlier, to reap the benefits of marriage, seldom remains intact.

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