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

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.


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

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

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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  1. Cheryl Sammons says

    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.

  2. Rosanba Howard says

    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!

    • Tracey K. says

      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.

  3. Marjorie says

    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!

    • Sally says

      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!!!

    • Tracey K. says

      Sounds like you never settled and waited for your soul mate. Be excited! The only thing to fear is fear itself. Congratulations!

  4. Mary LaFountain says

    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.

  5. brenda says

    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.

    • Angie says

      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!

      • Shawna says

        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.

      • Ana says

        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.

      • Rebecca Ednie says

        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.

    • says

      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!

  6. says

    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.

  7. Tres says

    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.

  8. Dana (danammm) says

    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.

    • Sarah says

      Loved this!!
      I’ve read the Five Love Languages. Very good book.
      You make some great points here to be added to the list!

    • lynness says

      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.

  9. Lori Sue Johnson says

    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.

    • jamie says

      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.

      • cty says

        I agree–. Sometimes it is lack of sleep that has catapulted the problem into a crisis in the first place.

      • Tauna says

        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!

      • camille says

        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.

      • Robin says

        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!!!

      • Karen says

        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

      • Linda says

        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!

      • Valerie says

        I agree also. 34 years married here, and you DO need to do what works for your relationship. We are all unique.

      • Crystin says

        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. :)

    • Lilly Berkley says

      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.” :)

  10. Cheri says

    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! :)