words of advice

Words of Advice on Marriage from a Lifelong Couple

My parents, Grace and David, just celebrated wedding anniversary number 63. On the occasion of their 60th (in 2012), they received a congratulatory letter from the Queen of England signed by her own hand. No marriage advice, just congratulations!

This year, my parents didn’t hear from HRH Elizabeth II; but, to be fair, they hadn’t sent her and Philip a card either. I sat down with Grace and David and asked if they had a few secrets they’d like to pass on. They smiled, held hands, and insisted they were nothing special. “We simply kept our promises,” my mother said. “I’d say that’s it in a nutshell.” “I understand your point,” I replied. “But you and Dad have come out on the sunny side of some terrible statistics, and you’ve done it with a lot of style. Could you at least share some encouragement for the guys at All Pro Dad and the women at iMOM?” “If you think it would help, dear,” my mother said.

Here’s some words of advice on marriage from a lifelong couple:

  • “Marriage is more about being faithful than being happy.” [Tweet This] Happiness is a byproduct of faithful, committed, caring love. Take care of the faithfulness, and happiness will find you.
  • “Commitment trumps feelings.” – My folks say feelings can run the gamut. But you can’t make reasonable decisions based on a temporary feeling. Commitment is always the touchstone.
  • “The children never come first.” – “Nothing personal, dear,” my mum said. “But the best thing your father and I ever did for you and your brother was to put our relationship first. Children need parents who are there for each other and who parent from a position of strength.”
  • “Always put your spouse ahead of yourself.” – It’s too easy to be selfish. Putting the other first – as a rule – strengthens trust and compassion in a marriage.
  • Sometimes you just have to hold hands and cry.” – Life happens. It’s not always possible to avoid disappointment, misunderstanding, and tragedy. Make sure the hand you hold and the shoulder you cry on is that of your spouse.
  • “Kindness is paramount.”Kindness will make up for just about every other flaw in a marriage. Kindness is the salve – the oil – that keeps all the other elements running smoothly.
  • “Forgiveness is a gift, not a quid pro quo.” – “There is no tit-for-tat,” my mother said. Forgiveness, like kindness, must be a unilateral move, irrespective of the likelihood of response. When it is, the likelihood of reciprocity is very high.
Sound Off

What's "the one biggie" that you'd share with every young couple if you could?

Derek Maul

Derek Maul is the author of five books, a nationally recognized men’s resource, a committed encourager, and a pilgrim in progress. He divides his time between writing and traveling to speak about the fully engaged life.

  • Jeremy

    I really enjoyed this Derek!

  • John Coloe

    Thanks for sharing your parents’ sage advice for marriages that pass the test of time. Wisdom and truth indeed.

  • Paul_Sp

    Not surprising that the first two promote commitment over feelings and happiness.

    I suppose any marry couple who aren’t happily married could decide that commitment trumps any feelings or thoughts about ending the marriage, and they too may make it 50 years or more together.
    No one ever quotes from or writes about these couples though.

  • Derek,

    I think I’d like your “mum.” She sounds like an amazing lady.

    My grandparents were married for 65 years and I loved to listen to their stories and see how they interacted with one another. They continue to be an inspiration to me and an example for my own marriage. Sadly, not too many couples make it that far today.

    I’ve been married 15 years this year and I think I would add that marriage isn’t 50/50 it’s 100/100. I learned the concept that we either both win or we both lose. It helps me remember to put my wife first and serve her the best I can.

    Thank you for sharing some lessons that you learned from your parents!

    Jesse Barnett

Subscribe to the Play of the Day for daily advice, videos and updates on how to be better dad.

Huddle up with a lifelong married couple and ask them to share their secrets to a good marriage.

foster and adoption
Did You Get It?
Florida Prepaid