How to Have a Long (and Happy!) Marriage

Dan&Judy_50thIt’s getting harder and harder these days to take a photo like this one showing a happily married couple celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Why? Because although people are living longer, marriages aren’t. Creating a happy marriage is an art, really. Not a talent. Not luck. And not a given.

We live in a world that celebrates the individual. Me. Not you and me. Not us. If you disagree, just check out the world around us. Both daytime and nighttime TV shows flourish with images of unhappy married couples looking for that elusive happiness outside their marriage – in affairs, hobbies, educational achievements, fitness programs, shopping, sports, you name it. Supermarket magazines place divorce news front and center on their covers. And the internet has become the playground of the individual, where you can merrily develop multiple personalities across various social media sites and seek virtual relationships with others online.

So where does this leave married couples who desire the tools necessary to learn the “secret” to a long, successful marriage? Many “divorce care” support groups and family support groups exist, but “marriage” programs that celebrate and foster happy marriages are often deemed uncool in today’s world. It’s uncool to live happily day after day returning home to someone who cares where you’ve been, how your day was? It’s uncool to have someone to share life’s ups and downs with? It’s uncool to create a “history” with one individual who knows and loves you – warts and all?

Polls state that the one relationship more individuals want to improve is their marriage. If you are one of these people, run – don’t walk – to a Marriage Encounter Weekend near you and find the joy that both you and your spouse deserve!

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

It’s All There In The Wedding Ceremony

After 6 years of dating, Josh and Bree got married last Saturday. It was a gorgeous Fall day with all the excitement of their wedding ceremony taking place in a beautiful cathedral nestled in the confines of a revered college campus.

The gathered well wishers – including 235 friends and family and a jaunty priest sporting a delightful sense of humor – were mightily honored to share Josh and Bree’s first precious moments of marriage with them.

And share them they did. They laughed, they cried, they clapped, they gasped – and that was during the processional!

These moments, the first of many that Josh and Bree will spend together as a married couple, were only the first of many feelings they will share throughout their hopefully long life together as man and wife. In addition to this new beginning that began with laughter and joy, surprise and encouragement, they will most certainly face issues that will discourage, paralyze, disappoint, and anger them.

It will be at those moments, when negative emotions push them apart, attempting to silence their love for each other, that Josh and Bree will most need to reach past their personal feelings about a situation and instead reach out to each other and work – hard, at times – to communicate, understand, and forgive in order to restore the unity in their relationship.

It was all there last Saturday. . .in the tears of joy Josh wiped away as his beautiful bride approached him at the altar, in the happy smiles of their approving parents, in the giggling flower girls, in the laser-focused homily of the priest, and in the confident vows Josh and Bree publicly exchanged for all to witness.

At that moment in time, at the beginning of their new life together, Josh and Bree promised to always put their relationship first. Before their jobs, before their extended families, before their lists of things to do, and before their hoped-for children. Their promise before God was all about their relationship – to make each other their number one priority.

It’s His greatest desire for their marriage. And it’s all right there in the wedding ceremony.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Trash Talk

Our first heated “discussion” as a married couple wasn’t about what people call the “important” stuff – our values, family, money, jobs, or kids.

Instead, our first “couple argument” was a top of the lungs, door-slamming, Tupperware-throwing, window rattling discussion about – our trash cans.

We weren’t discussing color, size, number, or shape of our trash cans. We both pretty much agreed that a trash can is a trash can and should definitely look like a trash can. No issues there.

Our fight was about who of the two of us would be deemed (for eternity and thereafter) the primary trash can “dragger” each and every week – 52 times a year – to the curb in front of our house before leaving for work – and, of course, then also retrieve the cans upon returning from work 52 times a year.

So this was major stuff going on. Time-consuming, boring, heavy-lifting, sometimes smelly w-o-r-k that we were deciding on. Of course neither of us wanted the job.

It began when one of us politely “suggested” that the other take the 2 pretty full trash cans in the garage up our 4-car-length long, barely uphill driveway. But the suggestion was silently ignored by the other. As the evening wore on, the suggestion became more demanding. By this time, however, we were both involved in watching our favorite TV show, and the suggestion was met with “Why don’t you take the trash cans out if you want them out there so bad?”

“You can take them out during a commercial.”

You can take them out during a commercial too.”

From that point the discussion became a full-blown screamfest the likes that hasn’t been spoken of since.

So how did this world-changing argument end?

When during the heat of battle – after the Tupperware had bounced around the kitchen and the door to the garage had been slammed a few times by both of us – we blurted out the following:

“In my family my Dad always took out the trash!”

“Well in my family my Mom always took out the trash!”

Which stopped us cold.

We suddenly realized that this mind-blowing battle wasn’t about either of us being lazy or mean or just plain stubborn. It was about how our individual experiences watching our parents’ relationship play out had caused both of us to have specific expectations about the roles of a husband and wife in a marriage.

And it became clear to us that we needed to base trash can duty on what our marriage relationship required – not on the roles we saw in our parents’ marriages.

Our trash talk that day turned our old attitudes toward roles in a marriage into a jointly cherished treasure of focusing on our needs in our relationship instead of the expectations we brought with us.

Maybe you and your spouse need to trash talk too.


Thursday, September 6th, 2012


It’s really nobody’s fault. After the honeymoon, jobs demand your attention, bills need to be paid, kids arrive, and the busy-ness of today’s world begins to melt away the candy apple shine of a married couple’s “coupleness.”

Eventually the busy-ness assumes a priority status, shoving your unique “coupleness” farther and farther down the list of priorities until married life becomes merely a whirlwind of “must do” demands.

But nothing is more important than making time to share yourself with your spouse every single day.

A very special blog article in the words of Tricia Lott Willford express the gift she received on a very special weekend that kept her precious and unique marital relationship alive and growing. Thank you for sharing with all of us, Tricia.

Friday, March 30th, 2012