Making Marriage Work: 15+ Tips


Since 1976, Karen Elizabeth Giles Miller and I have been “hanging out,” as the kids say today.

And married since 6/21/80.

It was a hot and humid July 1979 evening in Ithaca, NY when I popped the question, offering her a $395 diamond ring. She said, “No.” Not to the ring, to me. 😭

No worries, though. I asked twice more, did some selling, and closed the deal. I might not be the best salesperson, but I am the most tenacious.

Decades later, it’s not been bliss, but we’re in a good place now. When our only son, Michael (age 34), recently asked Mom why our marriage is working, she responded, “Well, what’s changed is Dad lets me have my feelings and I let him have no friends.” 🤣

Bottomline, Karen and I are … different. So. Very. Different. A feeler gal versus a logical guy. A quiet internal processor vs. an external (and excessive) processor/talker. Yet, we’ve made it work, the key word being “work.” Marriage is work, continual, ongoing, never-ending work. 

And, may I say, it is worthy work, for sure.

Are you working to make your marriage work?

On our QBQ! Facebook page (join us!), we posted a marital/relational question that generated lots of great ideas. So, let’s let a bunch of regular married folks share their wisdom. Ready?

The Question

What is required for a marital relationship to be strong enough to bend but never break?

The Wisdom
  1. Love is a verb, an action — not only a feeling
  2. Forgive mistakes
  3. Let go of old hurts/bruises
  4. Keep no record of wrongs
  5. Intentionally move toward ONENESS
  6. Be playful, have a sense of humor
  7. Let your spouse be your best friend
  8. Show humility by losing the need to be right
  9. Strive daily to see your spouse’s point of view
  10. Employ trust in the other as your default position
  11. Involve your spouse when making decisions
  12. Live “for better or for worse” and “until death do us part”
  13. Assume positive intent by your partner
  14. Find the positive each and every day
  15. Allow no person or possession to come between you
Then there are these 7 powerful comments …

Frank: “Marriage is one of the most difficult things to do in life, and at the same time, it is one of the easiest things to do. Do what you can to make it easy.”

Christine: “Marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

Tracie: “Love is a decision, do decide every day to stay married.”

Jody: “Do not use the words ‘never’ and ‘always.'”

Bev: “Don’t attend every argument you’re invited to, it takes two to fight.”

Gary: “Encourage the other to be his/her best, but love and accept them at their worst.”

David: “Learn to count to ten — as many times as necessary.” 😉

And … that #1 lesson from the QBQ! book:

We can only change ourselves, so stop trying to fix your spouse!

End of discussion.

So, for the Millers, it’s 42 years this month. Nothing special is happening on June 21, just hanging out in Colorado. Karen with her feelings, and me with no friends, except my best friend, Karen.

What have you done to make your marriage work? Share your thoughts below!

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17 Responses

  1. Great advice in all comments. I would add that for my husband and I, approaching 46 years on June 26th, our love for God and seeking His guidance has been a tremendous help in our marriage. There have been times we have said, “you know this has been on my mind, what do you think?” And the other one would say “oh my, yes that has been on my mind, too!” We pray about that issue and there is always a better answer from our wonderful Savior than we could have ever come up with!! Yes, marriage is hard work, my husband is in the music business and let me tell you, that can be challenging. My favorite story is when I was pregnant with our son and our first pregnancy, Steve had one day off in February, which was the month our son was to be born, and like the good musician wife, I went into labor that day, had the baby while he could be there. He would come to the hospital in his tuxedo right after his performances, but he was there and that was the important thing. We make each other our priority for the things that are important.

  2. Happy anniversary, John and Karen! My best childhood friend was married on the same day as you. He and his wife have been and still are an inspiration to me for their love for and commitment to each other.

  3. I have been married 39 years. I believe selective response is critical. Listen to everything, react or respond selectively and with thoughtful intention.

  4. I’ve learned 3 key things along the way- the first was asking myself the question, “would I rather be right, or in love with this person” I’d rather be happy with them than right, most of the stuff is the small stuff.

    Thank God for everything about my husband, when I hang laundry I thank God for the good man he is, the socks remind me to be thankful for strong legs and feet that he worked on his whole working career. You can’t be angry with someone that you are praying for, especially when you are being thankful for them. “The Power of a Praying Wife” great book.

    Most reciently I learned when a squabble starts, if you stop and say out loud to the other person “the enemy is attacking us, Jesus we could use some help here.” then the true enemy is named and you give the squabble to Jesus.

  5. It’s true opposite attract but one must recognize the opposite’s side. Patience is a key in dealing with opposing views. Don’t always try to be right about everything, there is a “small” chance you might be wrong. Live with it!

    John and Karen, we have never known such a strong relationship as you two have, although we believe Karen gives in more. We love you guys. Happy Anniversary!

    Marty & Jim (See John, I gave in she went first.)

  6. What a great article, and congrats! We’ve celebrated 46 years last month and for us the biggest things have been God at the center and laughing together. Initially when I said something stupid he got mad; now he just laughs. Also, I’ve learned to say, “I’m going to tell you something and I need you to listen to the whole thing before you respond.” Love QBQ!!!

  7. June 21st is an excellent wedding anniversary date. My parents were married on that date and celebrated 60 years of marriage. Mom is still with us, and if dad had lived they would have celebrated 75 years of wedded bliss yesterday! CONGRATULATIONS!

  8. Such excellent marital advice, I can really appreciate this considering I have only been married 9 years. I valued the #1 lesson from the book, “We can change ourselves, so stop trying to fix your spouse”. I think every young couple just setting out on their marriage journey should hear because both parties spend so much time trying to change the other instead of valuing them for who they are. Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

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