How to Make Marriage Work – What My Married-For-67-Years Parents Taught Me About Making it Work

One of the big questions I come across often in my job as a marriage counselor is how to make marriage work. You’d think that this is something mankind would have figured out by now but no.

Look around you. Marriages are falling apart the day after the wedding. People fall in and out of extra-marital affairs like they’re changing underwear. Half of all marriages end up with the people involved saying it’s over, let’s call it quits.

I know more people who are separated or divorced from their spouses than I do people who are happily married. The people I look up to the most when it comes to figuring out how to make marriage work? My parents who got married in their twenties and remained together for 67 years so I asked them what advice they would give to couples who want to know how to make marriage work. Here’s what they shared with me —

1. Never give up on your spouse or the marriage

No matter how tough things were or what happens, you just can’t give up on your husband or wife, or for that matter on the marriage. The attitude to have is your marriage is a precious thing that you will preserve and grow always.

2. Remember no one is perfect

We will all make mistakes which we will probably regret. You need to become your spouse’s best friend which means to recognize and cherish him or her whatever their flaws, and to be the first to forgive when things go wrong.

3. Be upset at the action but love the person

One of the best pieces of advice from my parents on how to make marriage work is the principle that people can do dumb things so you focus on the action but you continue to love the person no matter what. In other words, you separate the person from his or her action.

4. Never go to sleep with something unresolved

I hear this on TV all the time so imagine my surprise when my parents told me it’s one of the principles they lived by. If you ever have a disagreement or a fight, don’t go to sleep upset with each other. The marriage will last longer and you’ll both live longer too.

5. Don’t be prideful

Pride is one of the biggest culprits of marital breakdown. If you can learn to put aside your pride when things get rough, nothing is impossible to work through together.

Once, my parents had such a rough patch, they put aside their pride and asked our family pastor to step in and help get the marriage on track. For me, I take this to mean that, in today’s fast-moving world, you don’t lose anything asking for marriage help whether from a pastor or from a marriage help expert. Better to ask for help than to have a marriage not work.