I started with a quick google search of “Tips to a Good Marriage”.

Instantly my feed was full – ‘7 Tips for a Happy Marriage’, ’10 Proven Tips for a Happy Marriage’, ‘The 50 Best Marriage Tips OF ALL TIME’ with definitive caps lock usage, and my personal favourite: ‘7 Science-based Tips’ (It may interest you to know Science has ‘Have More Sex’ as point number 6!)

And all that without even scrolling, plus much more.

I have been married for 6 years to the beautiful Val (or tbV as I call her) and so I am not an expert on marriage by any means. I also don’t have anything against lists. Individual points on lists might provide ‘Aha!’ moments of helpfulness or even a significant moment of change, but no list is likely to save or radically transform your marriage and this is why: Marriages tend, in my experience, to be made up of people.


People are different. So what works for your marriage might be totally unnecessary or even inappropriate for mine.  The essential thing your marriage is missing, might be something tbV and I are brilliant at, and vice versa. Because people are different and therefore each marriage is a complicated complex web of difference (in a good way!) and requires specific care, attention and cheerleading that is unlikely to be satisfactorily found in 5 bullet points.

So this is NOT going to be a 5 thing list to get you through another few days before everything resorts back to the way things were before. What it is going to be though is a quick microscopic look at the one thing that your marriage would do well to get right, and that, in my opinion, is people.


# Married friends who you can talk about marriage with – this may seem like an obvious one but marriage tends to be something we don’t often talk about. Who are the safe people (to both you and your spouse) that you can share with when times are hard and who will champion your marriage and not pick sides?

# Older in marriage couples who can share some stories from way down the road. Just as being mentored can be a life-transforming thing, so it can be for us as a couple. Is there a couple who has been married for longer than you whose marriage you look at and go, “We could learn from that?” Make it a regular thing to spend time with them.

# A Marriage Counsellor –  We tend to think of marriage counselling as a last ditch attempt once the wheels fall off and it can be. But it can also be something to do every couple of months where we invite someone whose work it is to know and understand people, to take a look from a different perspective and help us strengthen areas of weakness that haven’t developed into issues yet.

# Single friends to hang out with – Often when you get married, there is an awkward divide that happens between the married and the single people in your friendship groups. The dynamic changes and it can often cause a bit of conflict or misunderstanding or loneliness on either side. And while single people are not the only people to  hang out with, when you just need a break to catch a drink or watch a movie or reconnect then they are perhaps likely to be a bit more in-the-moment flexible (although don’t assume this!) and making space to hang out with them keeps those friendships tight.

There may be others, but start with these and see what happens. And while you are on the look out for people who might be able to mentor you in your journey of marriage, also be keeping an eye out for a couple that might appreciate some insights you have to share with them.

Because marriage is made up of two people who are so different that no road map,’ How-To’ book or ‘science-inspired’ Top 10 list is going to hit the target every time, it is going to take the people in and around your lives (who are also different and thus bring a range of skills and experiences and ideas to the table) who will be the ones able to speak more specifically and directly into the lived out commitment journey you are both on.

Marriage is about you and your person. But don’t forget to make it about you and your people too. This is not something you were ever meant to attempt purely as two people.


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