how to have a good marriage recipe for successful marriage advice to newly married couples

How To: Have a Good Marriage

What Makes a Marriage Work

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. – Friedrich Nietzsch

I clipped out this article years ago and saved it in my scrapbook of recipes.  The article, and I have no idea where I clipped it from, suggested that you cut out the list and keep in your wedding album.  This is from psychologist Judith Wallerstein’s book The Good Marriage:  How and Why Love Lasts.  She considers this set of tasks essential to maintaining a strong marriage.

Recipe for a Good Marriage

  • Separate emotionally from the family of your childhood so you can fully invest in your marriage.
  • Build intimacy while also respecting your partner’s autonomy.
  • Embrace parenthood and absorb the impact of children on your life while working to protect your privacy.
  • Strive to confront and master the inevitable crises of life.  Provide nurturing and comfort to each other in times of adversity, satisfying each other’s need for dependency and offering continual encouragement and support.
  • Create a safe haven for the expression of anger and conflict.
  • Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship, and protect it from intrusions of the workplace and family.
  • Use humor to keep things in perspective, and avoid boredom by sharing interests and friends.
  • Keep alive your early, idealized images of falling in love, but accept the reality of changes wrought by time.

p.s. I also found a great post from The Empty Nest on avoiding Baby Boom divorce. Though her post in how to strengthen your marriage when you empty nest, her advice is great for any couple. She lists more great books:

Fighting for Your Marriage: A Deluxe Revised Edition of the Classic Best-seller for Enhancing Marriage and Preventing Divorce by Markman, Stanley and Blumberg

How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Love and Stosny

Fireproof Your Marriage Couple’s Kit by Jennifer Dion

Men Are from Mars and Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by Gottman and Silver

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D. Chapman

Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook: How to Really Get to Know the Person You’re Going to Marry by Hardin and Sloan

Covenant Marriage: Building Communication and Intimacy by Gary Chapman
To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ann

    Really helpful to look at reminder lists like this! It is always something you have to work at, isn’t it?! These are all really good ones.

    We went through pre-marriage counseling and I think it was really valuable.

    • To Ann,
      Reading the Twilight series reminded me how lucky I am to have found my own Edward so wanted to give myself a reminder as well! It’s so easy to harp on annoying things but not appreciate the good qualities in your mate!

  2. Jody

    I wish I had this article about 15 years ago. I can attest to ingredients #1 and #5…these are marriage killers.

    • To Jody,
      I think a marriage is a continuous investment and I find that there is no shame in getting outside help whether it’s a life coach, career coach, therapist or marriage counselor. Even if just one party wants to work on the marriage, it can make a huge difference. I have a career coach that I’ve used for years off and on and she helps with me work/life balance which helps my marriage. She’s like a therapist for me as well. An outside perspective can be so helpful and sometimes just small changes can make huge improvements.

  3. I love this list. I believe I may have seen it years ago, and am happy to have found it again. Saving it this time! Thanks!
    Krista recently posted…Tips For A Successful And Fun StorytimeMy Profile

    • To Krista,
      I am glad you found this helpful and I am happy that I saved it even though it was in a book full of recipes! I guess it IS a recipe for a good marriage after all!

  4. Mia,
    Great reminders. Consistently excellent blog.

  5. Kim L.

    This is just what I needed to read. I love it. I am going to try to get the book. I appreciate all your book posts. I always look forward to your blog.

  6. Kathleen

    This is excellent. Sharing this for sure – with family and others. THANK YOU! Have a fabulous day 🙂

    • To Kathleen,
      I love your reminders about empty nest marriage! This really rang true to me and I can always use reminders to strengthen my marriage. I’m glad you enjoyed it too!

  7. Have a plan to stay in love and together when you are empty nesters is vital for the success of your marriage in later years. Make plans and don’t let that part of your life go untended.

  8. Its all about “ego” problems. Respect the elders. Why don’t you treat your in-laws as “your own”, rather than complaining ? No parent(s) want their Son’s marriage jeopardized because of them.
    I guess those days are already gone (in majority of cases), unless for a Business families who are “joint” !. Come out of your “ego” (some times also called as “false pride”) feelings and you will discover a whole new (family) world!
    PARM LANIADO recently posted…Blind Date Dos and Don’tsMy Profile

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