Tips on having a happy marriage


I seldom perform marriage ceremonies any more. I did one yesterday, however.

Couples in successful marriages follow the Five Courtesies of the Hand. Just as our hands need all five fingers to work properly, our relationships need all five of these practices to be strong and rewarding.

Human relationships are hard to navigate, and the most intimate relationships are the most difficult.

Well, here goes — everything you need to do to have a happy marriage.

Say “please.” Saying please is a sign of respect for the other person. It means that you value their time and their effort. We often show more respect to strangers than our loved ones. We owe the most respect to those who are closest to us.

Say “thank you.” Everyone needs to be appreciated. Nothing causes more resentment than the feeling of being taken for granted. We all need to know that our faithfulness, persistence, patience and forbearance are appreciated.

Say “I love you.” Never assume that your mate knows you love them. A young man took off on his bicycle to deliver newspapers one morning decades ago. He was hit by a car and killed instantly. The last thing he heard his mother say to him was “I love you.” You never know if you’ll have another chance. Don’t miss the one you’ve got.

Say “I’m sorry.” If you live with another person you will certainly fail that person at some time, maybe on purpose. Apologizing does not weaken you. It opens the door for the tender restoration that forgiveness brings.

And the hardest of all, say “I forgive you.” This is the most God-like thing you can do. And forgiveness is the one thing we all crave. Give that most intimate person in your life the thing you most desire for your self.

Living intimately with another can be very hard, but these five simple courtesies will get you through. I’m convinced it is true.

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.