On Marriage Advice

Now that I’m kind of old (according to my kids anyway) and have been married two decades, younger people sometimes ask me what I think makes for a good marriage.

Honestly I have no idea.

I do have some ideas about what makes my marriage good, but I suspect a lot of that is unique to who my wife and I are. I have seen many different types of marriages work, so I wouldn’t want to present what has worked for me as some kind of universal.

But there are some things I’ve observed that I have not yet seen result in a good marriage.

Here are three off the top of my head:

  1. If she is not really impressed with you, it’s gonna be tough.
  2. If you don’t have rough alignment on the 2-3 utterly core values, it’s gonna be tough.
  3. If you don’t enjoy each other’s company more than anyone else’s (even when you’re doing nothing at all), it’s gonna be tough.

Let’s dive in to number one a bit today.

It’s easy for a guy to be head over heels in love with a girl, and his love to be so passionate that she sort of gets swept up in it and goes along with it.

Maybe she likes you as a friend and is not uninterested in you as more, but she’s not really in awe of you. Absent your persistent and intense affection, maybe she’d take her time and decide if she wants more than friendship. But because of your urgency and the fact that she doesn’t dislike you, she goes along with a relationship and maybe even marriage.

This is a tough foundation. Men really want and love being seen as a total boss by their wives. It can be easy to fool yourself early on that she feels that way, but if it’s not real, there is likely to be strife later. A woman who is ok with, but doesn’t massively respect and admire her man will lead to tension.

A good test for this when you are dating is to ask your friends and relatives what they think of the way she looks at you. If they all immediately say, “Dude, I see the way she gazes at you. She is in awe”, that’s a good sign.

I had dated a girl who I thought I would marry. She liked me, but she wasn’t in awe of me. I couldn’t see this, but others could. They’d say things like, “Yeah, she’s really great” but that was it. After we broke up and I started dating my wife, the contrast was amazing. Everyone would say, “Oh my gosh she is so in love with you” just from looking at the way she looked at me.

Even total strangers would comment on this. We were at a blues show sitting near the front and the singer said to the audience, “This next song goes out to this young couple right here, because ya’ll so lovey dovey it makes me want to puke!”

What’s funny is we weren’t holding hands or kissing or displaying any physical affection. We were on opposite sides of the table talking and listening to each other and the music. But she saw in my wife’s gaze that undeniable sparkle. (Funny aside: the song was called, “Meet me with your black drawers on” and was quite bawdy for a young Christian couple;-).

This level of obvious romantic swooning is not something that persists every day of your marriage. That’s perfectly ok. But, the underlying sense of respect and awe should be there. If she doesn’t think, “My husband is legitimately awesome” the inevitable bumps and fights and mistakes along the way will become so much harder to bear. Maybe too much.

Find a girl who sees you as a king. That will help.