Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Top 10 “Secrets” for a Long And Healthy Marriage

As many of you know…my daughter Britta is getting married in 2 1/2 months (yikes!)….and next month will be mine and Dave’s (the hubster) 26th wedding anniversary (wow!)  So needless to say, marriage has been on my mind lately.

I think about my daughter just starting out on this journey called marriage and then the decades that Dave and I have under our belts and I want to be able to tell Britta exactly what she should and shouldn’t do to make sure her marriage is long and happy and free of conflict or pain. Of course that’s not possible. Everyone has to  experience their own journey, pitfalls and all.

While I can’t tell her how to live her life, or how to ensure her marriage is a happy and long-lasting one…I can share with her at least a few of my own personal “secrets” to a happy marriage. Secrets learned through trial and error, many, many ups and downs, and a few good books. :-)

 

10 Secrets To A Long-Lasting Marriage

 

secrets of marriage

Giving Time A Chance
When I first got married, a LONG time ago, someone gave me a book entitled, “Giving Time A Chance: The Secret Of A Lasting Marriage“. Many times over the years I have turned to the advice betweens it’s covers. Advice that comes from real-life couples who have successfully navigated the sometimes rocky road of marriage.

 

secrets of marriage

 

The basic premise of the book is that time is a marriage’s best friend. If you expect to stay and work things out, then time makes marriage easier. Time gives you security. You aren’t afraid that something you’ve said or done is irrevocable. People who stay married have decided that leaving isn’t a viable option.

 

secrets of marriage

Communication With A Capitol “C”!
If communication is missing in your marriage, before you even realise it, it will slowly destroy your relationship. Everyone talks about honesty in a marriage but that’s only possible if communication lines are open. So even if you’re busy with your work, children, gym, household chores or social activities, just set aside 15 minutes in the day, especially for your spouse. Use this precious time to sit and talk about things, not just about work and family but anything and everything!

 

secrets of marriage

Respect
Love is overrated, it’s RESPECTING your spouse that will strengthen your bond and help your relationship in the long run. Learn to respect each other’s feelings and decisions, even if you don’t agree.
Let your partner know that your respect and value for him or her supersedes the specific issue you are discussing.

 


Compromise
Maybe it’s the way we’ve been conditioned, but a lot of people feel that compromise is a sign of weakness and so, are often unwilling to do it. But considering the vast number of decisions every couple has to make during the course of their lives, you’ll often come across situations, where you will have to find middle ground. That doesn’t mean you always have to give up on what you believe or think is right. Make it more about reaching a consensus or solution that both of you will be happy with.

 

secrets of marriage

Sacrifice
True commitment means that you are willing to make sacrifices to keep a relationship alive. The challenge is that taking steps to maintain the relationship means that you may not get your way in certain areas.
Both partners in the marriage must be prepared to put their partner’s happiness ahead of their own from time to time for the marriage to truly work.

 

secrets of marriage

Sense of Humor
Studies reveal that individuals who have a strong sense of humor are less likely to experience burnout and depression and they are more likely to enjoy life in general — including their marriage.

 

secrets of marriage

Keep Dating
Dating your spouse is one of the most important forms of marriage “maintenance” you can do. It helps you re-connect and reminds you why you married them in the first place. Dating also creates variety and interesting experiences in your life that in turn create memories that strengthen your relationship and can act as a shock absorber during difficult times.

 

secrets of marriage

Commitment Is Crucial
Have a long-term view….kind of like investing in the stock market, you don’t pull your money out as soon as it takes a dip.
Your partner is a package deal: You have to take the good with the not so good.
Recognize that marriage is a journey that ebbs and flows; passion will wane, but reignite over time.
The success of your marriage is not measured by how you celebrate the good times, but by how you support each other through the challenges.

 

secrets of marriage

Acceptance
The best kept secret to a long lasting and happy marriage, is all about acceptance. Spending all your time trying to change your partner or perfect those annoying little traits will bring nothing but disappointment. You fell in love with the person in front of you. Staying in love is up to you.

Which leads me to one of the most important secrets of a long-lasting marriage…and one that has seen me through many rough patches over the years……

 

secrets of marriage

Remember Why You Married Your Spouse!
Always remembering what it is about your partner that drew you to them will make certain that you never forget your love for your partner. It will also ensure that they are always beautiful in your eyes. Many things may change throughout the course of your marriage but the one thing that will always remain is the reason you fell in love in the first place.

 

 

A happy marriage is not guaranteed no matter how much the partners love each other. There are so many variables that can have an affect on the happiness and success of a marriage. It is important that both partners realize that they must continuously work on all of these aspects if they want their marriage to remain “happily-ever-after”. :-)

 

What advice would you give my soon-to-be-married daughter?

 

 

 


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143 thoughts on “My Top 10 “Secrets” for a Long And Healthy Marriage

  1. Cheri

    My advice would be to always remember to treat your spouse how you would want to be treated. Also, make sure you are honest about everything before walking down the aisle. Don’t want kids? Speak up. Want to move to New York City after the wedding? Speak up. You declared bankruptcy once? Speak up. Don’t let there be any surprises after the deal is sealed. Trust is the foundation that marriage is built on and you don’t want to start out with a cracked foundation. Good luck! :)

    Reply
  2. Lori Sue Johnson

    Some of the best advice I received:
    1) Don’t be afraid to argue. Arguing doesn’t mean you don’t love each other.
    2) Never (and yes I do mean absolutely NEVER) go to bed mad.
    3) If you just cant figure out a way to get from A to B in a difficult situation, take it to the bath tub. Draw a bath, both of you get in and then figure it out. It is very difficult to avoid compromise that will make you both happy when you are in the tub.
    4) Mine and yours becomes OURS. My money, your debt, my family, your baggage all needs to go out the window as it becomes OUR money, Our debt, Our family and Our baggage.

    It has helped my husband and I celebrate 20 years of marriage yesterday. We are older, a little wider and still very happy.

    Reply
    1. jamie

      There will always be people who say never go to bed mad. I have to disagree with this one. There have been many times where I have gone to bed upset about something. In my head I come up with all sorts of mean things to say to my husband that would be very hurtful. “My feelings were hurt so I’m going to hurt his too” kind of thinking. By morning I have usually calmed down and the thing I was upset about either seems silly, doesn’t even matter any more or I am not so upset about and I can talk to my husband about it in a more loving way and not be so emotionally charged.
      If I would have said those hurtful things “before going to bed”, my husband would have felt bad and I would end up feeling guilty for hurting him too. You can’t “un-say” the things you say in anger. They will always be there regardless if you kiss and make up.

      Reply
        1. Tauna

          I totally agree. When I was first married, I had to have everything out before going to bed. That just resulted in hours of missed sleep, AND being tired the next day.

          There are some things you don’t want to sleep on, but there are MANY things that sleeping on erases the problems to begin with!

          Reply
      1. camille

        I agree 100%. If you can work things out before bedtime, great, but don’t sit there and hash out a 2 hour, never-ending battle just because the “rule” is to never go to bed angry. I made that mistake many times when I was a newlywed. It doesn’t do anyone any good to be exhausted and just arguing about the same things over and over and not getting anywhere. Sometimes it’s good to just hug and say “I may not like what you have to say [or what you did or what you think, etc], but I love you. Let’s sleep on this and see how we feel in the morning.” Sometimes after a good nights’ sleep, things are much clearer. Plus, does anyone feel charitable or Christlike at 3am after hours of fighting? No! And with marriage, you need to be Christlike and charitable to your spouse. I strongly disagree with having a rule not to go to sleep angry.

        Reply
      2. Robin

        I agree with the fact that sometimes it is better to cool off than say things that may be hurtful. Sometimes after sleeping things look better in the morning. When you both can talk about what was bothering you in a calm way. We have been married 30 years!!!

        Reply
      3. Karen

        Sometimes you do have to go to bed mad – I need my sleep to get through the next day, and after you sleep on it some things work themselves out

        Reply
      4. Linda

        Totally agree on this – sometimes a good night’s sleep makes all the difference in the world. We also got that advice and while the principle of settling an argument is a good thing, sometimes “timing”is everything. And for some couples, the right time may be after a good night’s sleep. And hey….most of the time, a good night sleep settles the argument anyway!! LOL!

        Reply
      5. Crystin

        I agree that sometimes it just can’t be helped to go to bed angry. But what no one mentioned in response to your comment is that you never know whether you will wake up. THAT is why you should try to never go to bed. If you never wake up, your spouse will have to live the rest of their life knowing that you never settled the issues between you. And if your spouse never wakes up, you will be the one to live with that forever. I am a big believer in at least TRYING to never go to bed angry. :)

        Reply
    2. Lilly Berkley

      Great advice, Lori, and congratulations! Although… I feel very differently about items 2 & 4. I suppose that just goes to show that marriages are as unique as individuals are! My husband and I (together for 15 years so far) often find that going to bed mad is the best thing for us, as morning brings clearer heads and calmer emotions. Sometimes pushing for a quick resolution just makes things worse. As to making everything “ours”, we would feel very cramped with that method. We decided long ago that keeping separate bank accounts worked best for us, as well as avoiding that “you HAVE to go” expectation with each others family events.

      I guess that means my advice would be to consider the advice of happily married couples (they must be on the right track!), but to forge your own path using whatever works for the two of you!

      One of the best comments I heard at my wedding was, “On the days you don’t like each other, remember that you love each other.” :)

      Reply
  3. Dana (danammm)

    Find something you both enjoy and do it together! My partner and I enjoy singing, so we have joined a choir. (Bonus is that the choir is full of lovely couples who have become dear friends; we socialize with them in and out of choir activities!)

    On that note, be sure to surround yourself with happy people, especially happy couples. (Hanging out with only single people somehow doesn’t do much for your relationship.) Find couples who share some interests with both of you and are in loving and committed partnerships.

    Do NOT give up your own activities; maintain your interests and support your partner’s interests as well. I love scrapbooking. My partner could not care less about it, but he is fully supportive of my doing it because it makes me happy! He likes long and vigorous walks for exercise and I love that he does that without me! It keeps him healthy, gives him some time alone with his thoughts, and is a stress reliever for him. We both have things we enjoy that the other sometimes participates in, but we do not feel that we have to do EVERY LITTLE THING together.

    Decide early how you will deal with extended family… okay, I’ll say it, especially the moms. (Sorry, no offense intended toward moms and moms-in-law.) Our moms are, well, they’re our moms, and they have been for all our life and they can’t stop doing that. We don’t want them to, but helping our moms find boundaries early in our relationships has been tremendously helpful. Oh, and holidays…. be honest about how much you need/want to see your family and does it have to be on the actual DAY of the holiday. No need for extra resentment during already stressful times of the year! Make a plan that really works for everyone. His mom needs the actual day or else it isn’t special for her. She is also a widow and spends a lot of her time alone. My parents don’t care what day it is as long as they see us. They are happy to spend a holiday with friends or just the two of them so they don’t stress about the date.

    Oh, and regarding the extended family, DO NOT go running to them with every little problem you have with your partner/spouse. Don’t air the dirty laundry, and never complain about your partner to his/her mom, because she will NEVER take your side and will start to resent you. (Many of my family members were SHOCKED when my first marriage ended. Only my sister knew it was coming; heck, I think she knew before *I* did.)

    Wow, can you tell where we’ve had to work really hard? :)

    One last thing: Read The Five Love Languages by Chapman. Find out which is your love language and which is your partner’s and value that. Commit to “speaking” their language even if it is not important to you. We all just want to be loved.

    Reply
    1. lynness

      On the other hand, don’t always go complaining to YOUR mom about every pet peeve and how insensitive he is, etc. either, because you and he will make up and go on, but she will not be part of that and can start to resent how he’s treating her baby.

      And, for those times when you can’t remember why you married him, take time now to write a journal entry about how he makes you feel, why you know it’s right, cherished memories of your early courtship, etc. It can change your heart down the road.

      Reply
  4. Tres

    So many of these things were missing from my first marriage. I was given advice before my second marriage to put your spouse first. Which I suppose ties into compromise and sacrifice. It’s been great advice. We’ve already weathered family deaths, drama at work, pregnancy, and a cancer diagnosis during that pregnancy, and expensive unexpected financial dues. While we don’t see eye-to-eye all the time we have made it through all this (well, I’m still pregnant and still dealing with cancer treatment) and are happier and more in tune than ever.

    Reply
  5. Dannii Levi

    What a lovely post. I think most of the good advise has been covered, but one important thing. Whilst marriage and/or relationships do take work, they shouldn’t be hard, respecting each other is key, talk things out together and then remember to laugh about it all later.

    Reply
  6. brenda

    If you dont already have Christ as the center, your foundation already has a crack that will divide. A three stranded cord is not broken. The trials will come to test the foundation. If it is not built on a firm foundation, that foundation, no matter how pretty it looks on the outside, will crumble. On Christ solid rock I ,
    all other ground is sinking sand.

    Congratulations. Marriage is a covenant, not a convenience. Even when you dont“feel” like you love them or they love you.

    Reply
    1. Angie

      That is your BELIEF, not a tried and true method of making a marriage last. You have no idea what religion the couple practices, so I don’t think it’s fair to push yours onto them. My husband and I are not believers, but we are good people. We will be celebrating 8 years of marriage in a few months, and our relationship is stronger than ever. We BOTH put in our 50%, carrying the weight of each other when needed.

      Congratulations on the union of your daughter, Jillee!

      Reply
        1. Shawna

          It doesn’t have to become a ‘religious’ discussion, but as a fellow Christian, I believe sharing a faith in a greater power strengthens any marriage, whether that be any specific religion or any other belief. If you don’t share the same morals and values, it can put a huge strain on a relationship. if one spouse values the marriage in part due to their beliefs but the other sees it more as a convenience or married just to make the other happy, the bond will likely not be as strong. My husband was raised baptist, i was raised methodist. While there are some differences in what we think about different topics (i think speaking in tongues in the middle of a church service is silly), we agree on the basics about our faith, and what a marriage should be. Granted, our marriage isn’t perfect, and we do argue-just last night, in fact!- neither of us is going anywhere. We’ll weather every storm together, and take turns leaning on each otherfor strength.

          Reply
      1. Ana

        I think the fact that her comment was her belief was obvious. When I post something I expect it to be assumed that it is my belief, that doesn’t meant that it is not valid or worth posting. I don’t think her comment was out of place because she believes that is what will help Jillee’s daughter in her marriage, and the post did ask our advice after all. Jillee’s daughter can take it or leave it. I would take it.

        Reply
      2. Rebecca Ednie

        Anyone who thinks that you can put your 50% into a marriage and make it work has to SERIOUSLY rethink that. Each partner has to put 100% and MORE into a marriage to make it work once you take into account how flawed we all are and how much we fall short of that actually making 100% happen.

        Reply
    2. KL

      I don’t think religion has to be at the center of your relationship. I DO however think that it’s really important to be like minded where your beliefs are concerned!

      Reply
  7. Mary LaFountain

    My husband and I will be celebrating our 39th anniversary in June. The one piece of alive that I have was from my mother. She told us never go to bed mad at each other.

    Reply
  8. Marjorie

    I can’t thank you enough for this post Jillee – and also for the comments by other readers!! I am getting married June 28th for the first time in my life at the ripe age of 54! (heaven help me!) My fiance is 19 years younger. I’m excited, but a bit scared at the same time. We love each other deeply and are committed to making this work no matter what. But still, uncharted territory for me so it’s a teensy bit scary. He was married before (his ex is actually 2 days younger than me) so he knows the ropes better than I. He also knows & has discussed with me all of the reasons why he believes his first marriage didn’t work. He’s a communicator for sure! LOL!

    Anyway, thank you all again. I appreciate your advice & experience so much! Have a lovely day all!

    Reply
    1. Sally

      Marjorie – I married for the first time at the ripe old age of 50 (to a younger man!!), so I TOTALLY get your “a bit scared” feelings. Take a deep breath and dive in – while it is a huge change in your life, it really is wonderful to have someone to come home to and to talk to and to share your world. My best advice (to you and to others) is to relax and enjoy the journey – as long as you do have the commitment, the communication and the joy of having eachother you can survive about anything. We’ve gone through the death of 3 of our parents, the opening and closing of a business and just recently a surgery for cancer … and all of it was so much easier because we had someone to share the joy/despair/pain. Enjoy your new life & congratulations!!!

      Reply
  9. Rosanba Howard

    My husband and I have only been married since Sept. My husband was married before but she was unfaithful so it ended. We both have children and are in our mid 30′s so we aren’t exactly young and just getting started in life. Marriage was something I NEVER wanted to do but my guy some how convinced me.
    My advice is if you ever start to question why you decided on this person to spend the rest of your life with, remember that first thing that made you go “huh, that was sweet.” Our first date a man made a pass at me, while shaking my hand he held on and pulled me closer while my guy was speaking to someone else. The man was massive and scary but without batting an eye, my guy grabed my hand away from the other man and swooped me off. It was chivalrious and sweet and I look back on that moment to remind me why i love him whenever he ticks me off!

    Reply
    1. Tracey K.

      What a great thing to do! Those things are sometimes hard to recall when negativity is screaming in your head. Thanks for reminding me to focus on the good.

      Reply
  10. Cheryl Sammons

    don’t Let Pride Keep You From Saying Your Sorry. Keep The Humor And Fun Up Front And Center. Let Your Faith Be The Center Of Your Lives Together. Your Hardest Year Will Be Number 2, After TheHoneymoon Period Is Over. May God Bless You Both.

    Reply
  11. Ann

    Was honesty up in that list somewhere? Being honest with each other, even about the little things. If I can’t tell my husband something, then that could be something that could be a wedge that grows into a cavern.

    I don’t think the statement of never going to bed angry is completely true for all. It is more of a principle of even if you’re mad at each other you still have the commitment to try and work it out in the morning. My husband and I will celebrate 30 years in October. We’ve weathered a lot of storms together, even stage 4 cancer and 6 months of hospitalization. But our commitment and love/respect is greater now than ever.

    It keeps getting better when you’re with the person God meant for you to be with.

    Reply
    1. Linda

      I totally agree with you on this. Several couples gave us this advice 26 years ago when we first got married. I totally “get” the advice but we discovered that sometimes, things look different in the morning when you’re not so tired and have had a good night’s sleep. The thing is to make a commitment that no matter what, we are in this for the long haul. Love is a decision and we committed to working things out no matter what. We have weathered many, many storms and I almost lost him to a heart attack at 43!!! That truly got both of our attention – we live life with purpose now because we know how short life can be.

      Reply
  12. Cindi Lou Who

    Good advice given. I will testify to making it a commitment. Were it not for the fact that we had committed to marriage for the long haul, both of us would have bailed out several times during the 1st few years. Now, 19 years later, we have learned that you can work through anything.
    And remember that the things which drew you together in the beginning are, many times, the things which annoy you after marriage. Chose to focus on the good.

    Reply
  13. Kim

    Always remember that there will be good times and bad times that will fill your life and your relationship with experiences that will draw you together or push you apart. Stand together hand-in-hand–using God as the glue that holds you together. He has made the path and will lead you through it step by step! We are celebrating our 31st anniversary this June and are still best friends that travel along hand-in-hand!

    Reply
  14. Laurat99

    When you or your spouse are angry take time to cool off, THEN talk. Lots of things are said in anger that should never be said out loud.

    Reply
    1. SB

      Thank you Sarah, I’ve never heard that before. I’ll remember this one, and how true it is!

      Two of my favorite pieces of advice:
      1) Let your spouse dream without getting on them about being impractical. I’m surprised by how helpful this has been.
      2) If your spouse really wants/needs something from you but you really don’t feel up to it, we use the “24 hour rule”. Say no if you really need to, but let them know you’ll be saying yes in the next 24 hours.

      Reply
  15. Jacquelilne

    Congratulations Marjorie on your upcoming 1st and God willing only marriage. You go girl, enjoy the ride and remember “Live and marriage are like a rollercoaster, if you never experience the lows , you will not enjoy the highs.

    Reply
  16. Lynda

    I wish I would have read that book and this blog post years ago when I married. After two failed marriages, six years ago I tried it again. During the single years (which were most of my life) I asked married couples what was their key to staying together. I learned that humor was very important and to not take yourself so seriously. However, the biggest thing I learned was that love is a choice and a commitment. You won’t always have that feel good feeling but unless there is abuse in the relationship, you are in it for the long haul. Personally, I also found that marrying in our late 50s I was looking for someone with similar values and goals – something that wasn’t important in those earlier years. Best wishes to your daughter and her sweetie. She’s lucky to have such a great example.

    Reply
  17. cms

    Years ago, I read Ann Lander’s (the newspaper advice columnist) “12 Rules for a Happy Marriage.” Many of the 12 rules are similar to the suggestions posted in Jillee’s blog today. However, two of Ann’s rules I try to practice each day are:

    ** Never let the day end without saying at least one complimentary thing to your life partner.
    ** Never meet without an affectionate greeting.

    What I love about these suggestions are that they are two thing you can actually do each day. (If I realize in the evening that I have not given my husband a compliment, I give him one!)

    I also include this in my prayers at night: “Keep me in love with my husband.” We have been together for 20 years and I am still crazy for him.

    Ann Lander’s 12 Rules are here:
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1991-02-14/features/9101140272_1_dear-ann-landers-red-hair-twelve-rules

    Reply
  18. annie@mostlovelythings

    I think you’ve covered it all…I too have been married for almost 26 years and while it hasn’t always been easy, the best thing ever is when our daughter (18) says I love how you and dad love each other….it makes me so happy.

    I took your Pinterest class through Alt for everyone and am am delighted to have found you!

    Reply
    1. Jillee Post author

      Thank you Annie! I just peeked at your website and absolutely LOVE your photos! I’m so envious of talented photographers. :-) I also felt compelled to pin your Lemon Cake to my Lemon Joy Pinterest board! I hope you don’t mind. ;-)

      Reply
  19. Jewel

    I agree with so much of the advice given already. My husband and I will celebrate 19 years in October. We have weathered some significant storms over the years, and I will have to say that making the commitment up front that divorce is not an option, is probably the most important decision we ever made. I honestly do not think we would still be married otherwise. I am not saying there are not valid circumstances for a divorce, just that when you are both committed to making the marriage work, you will be surprised how often the distance between you that seems impassable is really just an illusion. *Think Indiana Jones and his leap of faith into what seemed a distance too great to cross on his quest for the Holy Grail. Only when he committed to cross that distance did he find a way that was actually easy.* I cannot tell you how many times I have been surprised that the distance back to each other was actually a short one once we made that sometimes very difficult decision to stay committed and work through whatever the problem was. NO MATTER WHAT. We have weathered financial hardships (job loss, bankruptcy), the loss of loved ones (extended family as well as our baby girl at 38 weeks), and the miriad of challenges in relationships (in-laws, kids, each other) and can say that even as we are in a trial now, we love each other more now than ever before. Each challenge has made us stronger and bonded us together in a way nothing else could have. It is true that what doesn’t kill you DOES make you stronger, IF you will let it. Blessings on your relationship!

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Jewell, my husband and I will be celebrating our 52nd anniversary in July and it has been at times a long journey but one thing we agreed those many years ago was that the word divorce was never said or considered. We worked out our differences. Any man that could make a commitment like that is one to keep. Living with me has not been easy for him. I loved him when we first married and after all these years that love has grown more deeply and I believe it did that through respect for each other and remembering that love when life hit us in the gut. Thanks for your words.

      Reply
    2. Linda

      Wonderfully said!!! My husband and I also made that same commitment! Divorce just wasn’t and still isn’t an option. We even told our kids that when they were small and a close family friend was going through a divorce. Making that promise to them really stuck with us too. We too have weathered many “storms” but we are stronger for them. I love that man more today than I did 26 years ago and feel blessed to have a man that agreed that divorce just wasn’t in our future. He’s my best friend and he still makes me laugh. Blessing to your daughter on her upcoming marriage.

      Reply
  20. Lee Ann

    No matter how mad you are at each other never go to bed without saying goodnight and I love you. Its hard sometimes to not go to bed mad, but this makes it better. Our kids use to say we embarrassed them by holding hands, always sitting next to each other with my husbands arm around me or holding hands. 33 years later and they each do it with their spouses. After we had our kids we would wake up early Sunday mornings to just spend time together before the busy day began. If you can’t go out on a date make date night at home.

    Reply
  21. Laura Rose

    My advice would be to make sure that someone gives them Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University book/online course) as a wedding present. Not knowing how to properly manage money and join together their financial life has been the major root of the problem in the marriages I have seen crumble in my circle of friends. Being united about money is a very, very BIG thing toward marital happiness.

    Reply
  22. southerngirl

    Never argue when you are angry or hurt. Take some time to cool down to where you can talk about it without anger. Things said to hurt back while angry can never be taken back. My Mom used to have a saying, “angry & hurtful words are like throwing black sludgy mud against a white wall. Even after washing and scrubbing (the sincere apology) the mud is gone, but the stain will never go away.”

    Reply
  23. Gloria

    Always keep a united front when raising children. Our kids knew if mama said no they’d better not go ask Dad. If we disagreed about anything in child rearing we talked about it in private. 39 years this fall.

    Reply
  24. TLH

    Well timed post. My husband and I are currently trying to save our marriage from his infidelity and it hasn’t been easy. i like the advice about recognizing that love is a choice, but I’m always wondering if only one of us is committed.

    Reply
  25. anne

    Step over the laundry and go to the zoo.

    The laundry will be there when you get back from fun bonding times together. This is just as important, if not more important, to do as a couple, as a family with kids later. As an empty nester now and 34 years in August, it has worked for us with the Lord being the most important part binding us together in this covenant relationship.

    Reply
    1. Dianne

      Your opening line reminds me of a quote we had hanging in our home for many years, “Cleaning the house while children are growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.” For us, that didn’t just mean the many chores would never be ‘finished’ and the house in perfect condition, it was a reminder that playing and being outdoors are very important to the mental health of both of you. Think of the giddy release that comes with making snow angels, which then often leads to sharing something warm like hot chocolate, soup, or hugs!

      We’re celebrating our 38 year anniversary in a couple weeks and our daughter’s getting married in July. This post is a treasure trove of great advice for all of us! One piece of very helpful insight that was given to me early in our marriage was, “The qualities that you love in your spouse will, when taken to the next level, also be what aggravates you.” If you loved his generosity, he may have a tendency to overspend; her happy-go-lucky nature may make it hard for her to be serious; the one who keeps the conversation going may not naturally give the other time to voice their opinion. That helped us a lot through the years! A similar analogy is, “A flying kite needs a string to bring it home.” When one spouse is feeling daring, it’s likely the other will recognize the need to be more grounded. Each position is important; the kite sees the value of adventure, the kite’s tether or anchor point is securely grounded. Even in our wizened sixties, opportunities to adjust our sights to the vision of the other spouse come up often! Blessings, all!

      Reply
  26. Kristi Tarnowski

    Marry your best friend! We have been married for 30 years and have been together since we were 15 (33 years!) Find common interests and do them together. Don’t go to bed angry. Always show him you love him (by doing even little things) daily. And always tell him you love him.

    Reply
  27. Diana

    My best piece of advice…the marriage is more important than being right. That thought, or mantra, has kept my mouth shut more times than I can count. Can’t remember the details of a single one of them…that is how “important” they were!

    Reply
  28. Nadine

    Best wishes to your daughter.

    We will be celebrating our 55th anniversary in a couple of months. When we had our marriage counseling, our minister told us that each of us should give 90%. It may sound trite, but I did marry my ‘best friend’.

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  29. Anele @ Success Along the Weigh

    Congrats to your daughter!

    We just celebrated our 17 year wedding anniversary earlier in the month. As we were stand up paddling together, my instructor asked what the secret was to being together so long because girlfriend drove him nuts. HA! We both said at the same time “communication.” I said you have to be honest and sometimes you can’t be afraid of saying something that might hurt over keeping quiet and letting it eat at you and resent the other person without them knowing you’re even upset.

    Give men their “wind down” time right after work. Obviously say hello, give a hug, ask how their day was and listen if they need to get the day off of their chest but give them time to check their email or browse a few websites they like to check (mine loves the geek sites). I find I have a much happier and more willing to help hubby when he’s gotten 15 minutes to just decompress from his day.

    Always make the last thing you say “I love you.” That way you never wonder what the last thing you said to them was if the worst should happen. I know it sounds morbid but I do that with all of my family.

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  30. Dana

    *Fight fair.
    No you always…. try it hurts my feelings when, I felt x when. When my hubs realized something he was doing hurt me he stopped doing it. When he took the time to tell me, I stopped.
    *Fights happen, hurt feelings happen, misunderstandings happen, move on. Do Not Dwell There
    *Learn his language.
    Sounds weird I know, but men say things differently than women. Most of our fights in the first couple of years were me agreeing with the hubs but using my words so he misunderstood.
    *Marriage is like an old fashioned scale – the balancing kind. You give a little, you take a little. But always in balance you cannot take without giving back.

    and ditto to most of the above (I skimmed so probably closer to all lol)

    Good Luck
    and Please No Smashing Cake!! It’s cute to kiss the frosting off a lip or wipe a tiny bit off the end of a nose, but not so much to see someone digging cake out of a neckline or hair. You each spent time trying to look your best for each other, respect that.

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  31. Jenny

    My comment isn’t marriage advice but engagement photo advice….the photos are beautiful but there is one where it sort of looks like you daughter doesn’t have a top on! Maybe it is just my computer but as I was scrolling down, I thought “whoa, back up, is she missing a shirt?!” There is something across the bottom of the picture that is soft-focus (a railing maybe?) but while scrolling, yeah, she looked topless to me. So my advice, don’t use that picture unless it looks way different in person.

    Reply
  32. Janet T

    Children need to see their parents loving and forgiving each other. Don’t hesitate to say “I’m sorry, PLEASE FORGIVE ME.” Apologies that begin “I’m sorry BUT…” don’t count! Be careful who you speak to about your marriage problems: speak to someone who will support the marriage, not just take your side automatically. Even if you’re “in the right” there’s always room for humility; realise there is almost certainly some way you’ve contributed to a difficulty or conflict. Yes, never let the sun set on your anger! Make love often.
    And here’s some advice that sounds odd in this day and age: let God do your family planning. For this approach, discover the Billings Method of natural family planning and its “honeymoon effect” (NOTE: this is definitely NOT the so-called rhythm method!) – your personal as well as sexual relationship will expand and you will grow more in tune with each other.
    There are many ways to show love: when we feel loved we are not afraid to change, but the love must come first.
    Yes, I’ve definitely been there!

    Reply
  33. lori

    So much good advice form so many people!
    I’ve only been married for 2 1/2 years and this is my first and only marriage. I wanted to wait until I was sure that it would last for ever, so at the age of 48 I finally got married to my best friend! I tell him multiple times a day that I love him, if I do something wrong, I apologize and I never go to bed angry!
    I’ve seen many friends and family get divorced for all the reasons you can imagine: lack of communication, trust, forgetting that mine is now ours, lack of respect for each other and the biggest thing I’ve heard “He/she just isn’t who I thought I was marrying, they changed.”
    Like a job you love, you have to work at your marriage every day to make sure that it’s a success. You can’t take your spouse for granted and put too much expectations on him/her. Marriage is a partnership. You are no longer two people, you become one together!
    Britta, I wish you a long and joyful union with your bestfriend and lover!

    Reply
  34. Cindy

    Marriage often reveals how selfish we can be. Do not rely on each giving 50/50 and expect to meet each other half way. A better option is for each to give 100%. Can’t say I have always given 100%, but still growing and trying. Marriage is truly a journey. Married 27 years, kids are all grown and we still like each other :-)

    Reply
  35. Misty

    I don’t agree with the “never go to bed mad” philosophy. For the hubs and I, sleeping on it gives us (mainly me) time to settle down and nothing ever seems as bad with a few hours if sleep.

    I would also say make your spouse your best friend if they aren’t already. Talk, laugh, vent, do fun things. I think “liking” my husband makes it much easier to love and commit to him.

    Be happy that you aren’t exactally the same people! Love the differences is perspective and personality. We are stronger together than we are individually. Instead of trying to make him just like me (which I’m sure would be easier), I value his opinion and different way if doing things. He is the voice of reason in our house, and I am the emotional balancer. He folds the laundry and washes the toilets (the two things I hate doing) and I do the yard work and fix the little things around the house. He proscratinates, and I plan, plan, plan. I schedule every second of every day, and he sweeps me away for a weekend to relax.

    Reply
  36. Rachel

    My husband and I have been married for 18 years. As a wife, one of the things my husband appreciates most is that when I talk about him in public, it’s always good. It helps to have one or two good friends who share your values, so that when you are frustrated and angry, you have someone to go to to get GOOD advice. But overall, NEVER badmouth your hubs in public. It takes away his dignity, and since respect is one of a man’s biggest needs, nothing erodes a man’s investment in his marriage like a wife who belittles him.
    Here’s the bonus: every single time I brag on my sweetie, it reminds me why I married him in the first place, and creates good feelings in my heart toward him. Positive words in public: it’s a win-win!

    Reply
  37. Mindy

    This may sound silly, but buy a small bed…here’s the reason: Everyone says don’t go to bed angry. It’s great advise, but sometimes it’s just not that simple. If you have a king-size bed (or even a queen), it’s easy to turn away from each other and leave lots of space between you. If you have a smaller bed (double or full-size, whatever you call it), then you have to be close to each other. It’s really hard to stay angry with someone that is lying right next to you (and try to lie in a double bed without some part of you touching the other person). It can be tempting to “upgrade” to a larger bed, especially once the babies start arriving (anyone tried to sleep in a double bed with 2 or 3 kids?), but try to resist that urge. Eventually, the kids will stop crawling in bed with Mom and Dad and it will be just the 2 of you again. That big bed can feel really empty if the two of you are leaving lots of space. My husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last September and just celebrated 25 years as a couple at the beginning of May.

    Reply
    1. Dana

      We spent our first year together in a twin! Seriously no room for anger there lol
      We did upgrade to a queen by our first anniversary but even after 20 some years that first year in a twin still brings a smile to both our faces! Such an awesome piece of advice!

      Reply
  38. Linda

    The day before my hubby and I were wed, my Daddy took us aside. He told us to remember one thing, you will have arguments but as long as you keep them between just the two of you and NEVER, NEVER involve any one into to it, then the two of you will work it out. If you turn to someone other than your spouse, that person will start talking against the one YOU married and that will start tearing the two of you apart. I have seen this happen to couples I have known, and today they are divorced. My Daddy told us that 38 years ago today! YES tomorrow we will be married 38 HAPPY Years!!! Thank You Daddy, we Love and Miss You & Mom,

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  39. Christine York

    Don’t go to bed angry at each other. Try to come up with a solution or at least “agree to disagree” before you hit the pillow. That will allow both of you to get some sleep and somehow things don’t seem as bad in the morning.

    Get some earplugs just in case he snores. That will allow you to stay in the same bed and tolerate the noise :)

    This one is difficult but someone recently gave me this advice and it works if you can do it! When you’re not seeing eye to eye, or having a heated discussion make some sort of physical contact with your husband. Even if he has his hand on your leg or maybe even just crossing pinkies! Somehow, it calms me and I’m more understanding.

    Reply
    1. silverdust

      LOL! That “don’t go to bed mad” advice kills me. I sleep down the hall — with earplugs — and can still hear my husband snoring! His snoring has worsened over the years, and he won’t do a sleep study, so there we are. No biggie. I get a MUCH better night’s sleep without listening to his snoring, intermittent coughing (allergies) and humming (even in his sleep).

      We celebrated 26 years of marriage last Christmas and are having a blast. He’s funny as all get out and we’re both wiseacres with lots of inside jokes. We practically have our own language. When we’re getting into the pew at church, my teenage daughter slips between us and says, “No, you’re not sitting next to your boyfriend. You two misbehave!” (We’re not that bad. Really.)

      My high-school religion teacher taught us that having common socio-economic, religious and family backgrounds went a long way to ensuring a lasting marriage. Our situations were identical. His parents were nearing their 50th anniversary when his mom passed away from cancer, and my parents are going on their 64th anniv. this fall. If you come from families with strong marriages, that’s a plus.

      For those starting out, esp. young couples, premarital counseling is invaluable. Sometimes, questions about money, children and other topics will elicit a response that shocks the other person and is best ironed out before rather than after. Good luck, Britta!

      Reply
      1. cms

        My husband is also a snorer, but sleeping next to him is one of the dearest joys in my life. I use earplugs which do help, but the older we get the LOUDER he snores, and the harder it was for me to fall asleep (and no, he won’t go for a sleep-evauation).

        Unwilling to move to our spare bedroom, I was at a loss until a dear friend mentioned she has a small fan on her bedside table, and the “white-noise” of the fan blocks out her husband’s snoring. So I bought an inexpensive 12″ portable fan, put it on my night-stand, turn it on when we go to bed. Now I sleep like a baby and can still snuggle with my husband, despite his snoring. That w hite-noise really works! (On chilly nights, I turn the fan away from the bed so it does not blow directly on us.)

        Reply
  40. monica farina

    I highly recommend the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. The book talks about different people express love and feel loved by different ways of expressing — there are 5 basic types. If you know, for example your spouse feels loved when you complete acts of kindness, then you can express your love that way and your spouse will recognize that. Some people feel loved when experiencing words of affirmation, and so on — helps to aid communication — spoken and other. Loved this post — thanks for sharing. Going to check out your recommended book as well.

    Reply
  41. Anne

    Don’t get into the ‘one-up-manship” mode’. When “I had a bad day today and need some understanding” turns to “Oh yeah, I had a really, really bad day.” My day was worse then yours.”
    It isn’t really conversation but can kill a relationship fast.
    Don’t do it with friends but especially, don’t do it with your spouse! After 51 years of marriage, this is one lesson we both have learned.

    Reply

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