On March 2022 Lunch and Learn Event: Getting In and Out of Marriage, Relax Teams invited Pastor Daniel Fenco to share his knowledge and expertise on the secret on how to have a happy marriage
Recipe for a Happy Marriage
By Daniel Fenco
There’s a never-ending stream of self-help books and magazines that offer advice when it comes to this topic: What's the secret for a happy marriage? Others would say love, communication, trust, and personal time with each other. Some advice today may be viewed as unworkable tomorrow. For Pastor Dan, you can add one thing to the recipe so that couples can have a happy union despite shortcomings and imperfections.
Daniel Fenco is a pastor of a bilingual church called Camino Fair Lutheran Church in Burnsville and Somerville. He has been a pastor for about 10 years now and he has helped many couples understand what marriage is all about from God's perspective, the creator of heaven and earth.
Pastor Dan does pre-marriage counseling where they meet about six times before marriage and it's mainly just to help couples to understand what God has to say about the sacred union. He’s been married for 17 years with three children, fourteen, nine, and four. He shared his passion for couples planning to get married with the purpose of trying to help people understand marriage from God's perspective and understand God's love for humanity.
Forgiveness in Marriage
Oftentimes people want to know the secret to a happy marriage and everybody has different ideas. Marrying your best friend, marrying someone who's attractive, or marrying someone who makes you laugh. People have different ideas. But according to Pastor Dan, from God's perspective and for what God has for humanity, the secret to a happy marriage is forgiveness. It’s the ability to forgive and to be able to give someone a second chance. Regardless of your spouse's faults and shortcomings, you get up every morning and love each other, and be with each other, even if there are all those things in between.
When Pastor Dan meets with couples for pre-marriage counseling, he usually mentions that forgiveness is key at the beginning of marriage, but he thinks it will help couples as things progress to 5 years, 10 years, 15 years passed by, and ultimately for reconciliation purposes. It’s that one thing he helps people to understand and try to live out himself as well. It's just one of those things that need constant work. One thing that you have to remind yourself of almost every day. We need to have this ability to forgive and to forgive a lot.
How do you deal with couples that come to you, wondering if marriage is right for them or as a married couple and they're not sure if they want to continue as a married couple?
Pastor Dan: “We go through, what love is, right? Probably, some of you heard the famous first Corinthians chapter 13: “love is patient, love is kind”. And one of the points that I try to make is that when the Bible talks about love, it is not a set of feelings. It's not the butterflies that you feel in your belly when you see the person you love. When God talks about love is, it's a set of actions. You have to be patient. And I think it goes both ways, It has to be both ways.
It has both ways. It's not rude. It's not resentful, it doesn't do wrong. In other words, love is sacrificial. And it goes both ways. God has given us the greatest example of this sacrificial love when Jesus came into the world and gave his life so that we will not be condemned. He put our needs before his needs. He knew what he needed to do. And he gave himself for us, not even asking us if we wanted that. So he gave us the greatest example of love that helps us understand what love is.”
When things don't work out
There are obviously circumstances where things don't work out. If that happen, Pastor Dan would ask them to talk to a professional beyond that point. His main goal is to try to help them understand what it is that God wants for the relationship. But he also thinks it's important to help people understand that even though God created marriage and meant for it to be forever, that was before. That was our creation right before Adam and Eve fell into sin, which helps us understand that we live in this sinful world, that we live in this world war. Things are not always going to work out.
Love is Work
Pastor Dan shared Ben Affleck’s story a couple of years ago when he was at an award show and he was thanking everybody. He was right when he said, “the essence of their marriage is work”. Everybody was upset, but if you really think about it, it’s giving yourself every day, it’s being patient and being kind, and not being arrogant. It's not being resentful, it's being sacrificial. So it is work and It’s something that we need to work on constantly.
There are circumstances where things don't work out and we help people understand that it's okay. And there is forgiveness after a marriage that is broken. There is forgiveness for someone who gets divorced. There is forgiveness for all of that. There is love after that, after a marriage has fully dissolved, there is hope. That's what we're trying to help people understand as well.
Marriage is work. You constantly need to learn about yourself and about the other person, it's also learning about what God has to say about you, your relationship with the world, and how he wants us to show that love. In any stage of a relationship, forgiveness is really important. Especially in today's world, if we don't like something we'll cancel it. We don't give anyone a second chance anymore. There's the point where God has given us more than the second, third chances and we just need to be forgiving and give others a second chance as well.