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Richie and Natalie and Raleigh Norton in New York City Central Park 2016

Picture in Central Park in May 2016 of our 12 year old son taking a picture of us. Picture Credit: Cardon Norton, our 11 year old son. Not pictured is Lincoln, our 9 year old son running around under the bridge near those steps. :-)

How could we already be into this marriage of ours FOURTEEN years?! Cray. Time doesn’t stop for anyone.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that every year for the last four years, on our anniversary, I like to share some things my wife and I have learned about cultivating a happy marriage. That said, if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that we’re certainly not perfect and we’ve got to be patient with our imperfections.

This post is coming up a little later (our anniversary is in August), but we’ve been having the time of our lives and I just didn’t have time to pause and write is all down…until now that my ankle is broken (story to come!). :-)

New here? Get caught up:





Note: This is more of a post for me and Nat. I’m not being “preachy.” I’m not a marriage counselor. I don’t have a degree in family therapy. I’m just a happily married dude, and this post is a reflection of my experience, well. . . as a happily married dude. Of course, we have our own set of problems. EVERY couple does, and I would certainly never try to hide that fact. But this isn’t a post about what hasn’t worked for Nat and I, it’s a post about what has. And I sincerely hope that what I share here can help you reflect on your own life and work toward creating a strong, happy marriage as well!


#14. Life is CRAZY.

Life is just crazy…married or not. The craziness of life can help or hurt your marriage. We’ve had foster kids the last two years and nothing hurt more than when they left. It was similar to the pain of Nat’s brother Gavin passing and also our baby son Gavin passing. However, these three babies of ours are still out there somewhere and we can’t protect them any more. This experience is hard. Hard times infinity. People don’t see it like a death, yet in many ways, it is worse. So we push on and rely on each others as opposed to relying on the world and pushing away each other.

#13. Take a pilgrimage.

After our babies left, we went on a pilgrimage. We flew to NYC and have been traveling now for almost five months. We needed to huddle our kids together after so much loss and just be. Whatever your circumstance, take a moment to go on a pilgrimage that will center your soul, bind your marriage and free your mind from the every day troubles of every day life.

#12. Be grateful for your health (and take care of your mind and body).

Natalie had a scare on our way to the airport to NYC when something happened and she couldn’t speak or remember certain things. Read about it here and here as Nat describes her feeling as her “mind started to slip.” I say “be grateful” because some things (most things!) are completely out of your control, so enjoy the good while you have it. I say “take care” because there are many things within your control that you can do to enhance your life’s enjoyment and best utilize the health you’ve been given. Many of the people in retirement that I interviewed personally (hundreds) have told me how they spend on their wealth on health and they’d do anything to have their health back.

#11. Act now…or forever miss your moment.

Many of the same retirees that I have interviewed over the years (for my books and serving or working with them in one way or another) say something like this: “I waited my whole life to do what I really had in mind to do when I would finally have more time, more education, more experience and more money…only to find that when I got there…I still needed more time, more education, more experience and more money.” In other words, the moral of the story is that you’ll never have enough. That being true, act now and leverage existing resources or you will miss your moment to build something great. You’ll miss the chance to “start stupid,” gain experience and become and expert. You’ll miss it. You will. ACT NOW with whatever you have. No waiting. Now. Natalie and I and our pilgrimage is an example of living in the now.

#10. Learn how to make money that is not tied to an employer.

Nat and I are entrepreneurs. It’s been feast of famine over the years. One of the greatest blessings in our lives is that when times get tough, we are willing to do the hard and necessary…even if that means digging out cans from the trash can at the park to recycle them for money and use the change to get gas to drive into town to buy groceries (true story). As a result, Natalie and I have spent time learning business models, pricing strategies, coaching skills and useful talents that we can sell to our target markets. In fact, this entire road trip from New York to California to Mexico and now on to Canada has been funded by making our money on the road. Take the time to protect yourself from a bad employer/employee situation (which will come) by learning how to make money. Watch this (link available for a limited time — it’s a free training on how to make money by doing high-value projects).

#9. Choose happiness.

You will get frustrated. You will break your ankle (I did climbing in Yosemite a couple weeks ago). It will be hard. You will disagree. It’s okay. Don’t use a bazooka to kill a fly. Choose happiness despite hardship. Choosing happiness doesn’t mean things are always good. Choosing happiness means you choose to find knowledge and to apply it to create a better life especially during challenges. My wife’s favorite book (aside from scripture) is Man’s Search for Meaning. We love these quotes from that book and hope to test our choices: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” and ““When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” (Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning).

#8. Like each other.

One of the best compliments Natalie and I received when we were getting our pictures taken after our wedding was this: “You like each other. Many couples I photograph love each other but don’t like each other.” Do you love your spouse but have a hard time liking him or her? Change that.

#7. Sacrifice.

It’s been said that a sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice when you get back more than you give; it’s an investment. I’ve also received the advice to sacrifice until it hurts and then sacrifice more. There is a sanctification in sacrifice–that’s where the Greek word comes from. Now whether you take that sanctification (or holiness) literally or figuratively, there is a glow about people who serve and give and sacrifice for others. Nat and I have found that the more we give the more we get. However, we don’t give to get. That would destroy the purpose of sacrifice. We give to serve and we are blessed in return in ways we can’t imagine. Sacrifice will bless you. Look for ways to serve others. It’s not a sacrifice if it doesn’t hurt.

#6. Talk about it.

Sometimes people let things simmer until they boil over. Why? An explosion of anger creates more problems than talking about it. Talk straight. Be kind. Don’t be a door mat, but don’t be a bulldozer either. It’s about respect. Respect your spouse and have an agreement that you’ll be able to talk about hard things without fear of the other getting mad. Talk about how you will talk about the tough stuff.

#5. End E.G.O.

Natalie calls ego “E.G.O. = Edging God Out.” Yep. She invented that one. So smart that girl. :-) Don’t edge God out. Pray. Ask for help. Receive with gratitude and move forward. You’re a son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and He hears you and answers.

#4. Take T.I.M.E.

TIME is an acronym I created for Today Is My Everything. You could say that TIME is our Norton family anthem. Simply put: You can’t do anything tomorrow. Nothing. Today is today. In fact, today IS yesterday’s tomorrow. Take TIME with your spouse, your family, for yourself and to focus on the important stuff. Click here for a cool, free TIME Mantra poster.

#3. Be cool.

Not like “cool” cool. But, cool. Be kind. Be generous. Take it easy. Cool people are understanding, forgiving, fun, serious (when needed), don’t take themselves too seriously and take care of others. Be cool and prosper.

#2. Bring out the best in your spouse.

Like siblings, spouses know how to push buttons. They know the worst thing to say at the worst moment to get the worst out of their spouse. It’s easy. Instead, take time to bring out the best in your husband or wife. It doesn’t take much to say the best thing at the best time to get the best out of your spouse. Just make up your mind to bring out the best in your spouse and watch the magic happen.

#1. Bring out your best self.

When you want to impress someone in life or business, you bring out your best self. The day-to-day grind makes it easy to be meanest to the people you care about the most.  Do a little experiment. Bring out your best self today and for the next 21 days. One day isn’t enough. So over these 22 days, watch what happens as you act your best, bring out the best in your spouse, be cool, take T.I.M.E., end E.G.O., talk about the hard stuff with your spouse, sacrifice, like your spouse (not just love), choose to be happy, learn to earn additional income as a solopreneur / entrepreneur, act now, be grateful, take a pilgrimage and accept that life is often crazy…you’ll discover an entirely new world and wonder why the rest of life couldn’t always be this way. It can. Now go.


– We’ve created a new project called the #Ruckuslist –it’s better than a bucket list because you do it now, not later, and it’s about becoming (not just doing). Check out our new YouTube channel (nothing is there yet) and subscribe for some amazing new and prizes and videos coming soon!!! Click here:

– I’ve created a 37-page action guide to help you get a personal project going. Consider applying the steps I outline to a “marriage project.” You can work on something fun that brings you and your spouse closer together!

– Get your free action guide here.

Written by on September 26, 2016 | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) Topics:



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  15. Anthony Calleja Photography Sep 16th 12:39 pm

    Aloha Everyone! I would like to share a few marriage tips. I call them “Words of My Mother and Father.
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    1. Love One Another Unconditionally

    2. Trust One Another Unconditionally and Be Each Others Best Friend.

    3. Always Give Each Other the benefit of the doubt and Never rush to judgment.

    4. Think Before you Speak, because Once you say it, it is too late, and you can never take it back.

    5. Speak from the Heart and be sensitive to each other’s needs and feelings.

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    7. Don’t be afraid to be the first to say I’m sorry.

    8. Have family activities and keep the fire and passion that brought you together alive.

    9. Plan little surprises for each other.

    10. Build your Dreams together.

    11. Alway Stay True to Each Other.


Richie Norton and Natalie Norton


I love this picture of me and my girl, Natalie, on the day we got married. This picture has a little “sepia tone lovin” to it. (Thanks for the lyrics Jack — that’s one of our favorite songs. Quick side story: back in Hawaii, our kids were in swimming lessons with Jack Johnson’s son. It was a “mommy/daddy-and-me” type class, so every day, we were in the pool with Jack and his son. We had NO idea who he was until someone mentioned it to us a few weeks into lessons. It was cool getting to know him outside of his “celebrity status.” He’s just as laid back and down to earth as you’d imagine.)

Sorry the quality of the picture isn’t better. It’s a picture of a picture from my cell phone. Hopefully Nat has a better copy somewhere. But, either way, it doesn’t really matter, because while pictures may fade, our love is stronger than ever. Ha! (So sappy, I know, but I’m completely serious. I love her now more than ever before.)

Well, well, well. . . these posts about lessons learned from our marriage have become my most shared/popular posts. What does that mean??? This is, after all, not a blog about love and marriage, but who cares. Right? I’ve loved adding to this series over the years, so I’m really glad you have loved reading it as well.

New here? Get caught up on past installments in the “How To Be Happily Married” series below:



Note: This is more of a post for me and Nat. I’m not being “preachy.” I’m not a marriage counselor. I don’t have a degree in family therapy. I’m just a married dude, and this post is a reflection of my experience. . . well, as a married dude. Of course, we have our own set of problems. EVERY couple does, and I would certainly never try to hide that fact. Life is freakin’ insane.  But this isn’t a post about what hasn’t worked for Nat and I, it’s a post about what has. And I sincerely hope that what I share here can help you reflect on your own life and work toward creating a strong, happy marriage as well!


I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on a happy marriage below. As a little 12th anniversary gift, I’ll send a copy of The Power of Starting Something Stupid to three people (chosen at random) who comment below. If you already have a book, you can give it away and make someone happy. In any case, we’re all in this life-business together, and we need to lean on one another for support. So please, share your thoughts, struggles and successes in the comments below. Everyone in this online community I host here will benefit from your thoughts. Your insights may just be the thing that helps save or strengthen someone else’s marriage. We never really know how far our influence goes.


#12. Shut up and listen (guys).

Listening IS the answer. Let me repeat that in case you weren’t listening. Listening IS the answer. Don’t jump in and try to save the day in the middle of a crucial conversation. Nine times out of an even ten, she just needs to share the story. Don’t worry about why that is. It’s just the way it is. When you try to “solve her problem,” you may just make things worse. You may just make her feel as though her problem is simple and if she would only _______ everything would be fine. She doesn’t need that. She is coming to you for comfort and validation. She is coming to you to  be reminded that she’s not in “it” alone.

Again—first, listen. Then, make sure she understands that you understand. Then, if necessary, offer some new ideas— but only if she wants them.  Remember, when you listen intently, and make her feel understood, you’ve usually already given her exactly what she needs.

#11. Praise each other (everyday).

Just today, Nat told me how much she appreciated a couple little things I did around the house. When I did those little things, I didn’t even think anything of it. However, because she pointed it out, not only did it validate what I was doing, it encouraged me to want to do more. Praise doesn’t have to come in the form of big gifts. And praise shouldn’t be withheld until a “special time.” Every time is a special time. Give praise openly and often–even with the little things–and watch the magic happen. Praise-giving creates a virtuous, upward spiral of good feelings towards one another and encourages additional kindness and additional acts of love.

#10. Respect each other (always).

Could respect be more important than love? Could respect be the ultimate form of love? “Love” is so arbitrary. People fall into love and they fall out of love. But respect? Respect is different. Respect is ongoing. Don’t worry about respect being “earned.” If you chose to marry him or her, that respect has ALREADY been earned. Respect THAT. All the bickering, back-biting and snarky attitudes would disappear if we remembered to respect one another. If you’re having some issues, ask yourself if you’re doing your part to respect your spouse. Of course, it goes both ways. However, a good rule of thumb is to respect first and you’ll naturally be respected in return.

#9. Get together and away from it all (often).

Remember what it was like dating? You could get away from everything else and just be together. I understand that with work, a mortgage, kids, school, debt, etc, that things are different now. But don’t let all those “responsibilities” get in the way of your most important responsibility—your spouse. Break away from the grind (together) at least once a week.

#8. Have some freaking fun (fo realz).

What in the world? Why do couples get so BOOOOORING? Way to suck the life out of life, people! What does fun look like for Nat and me? Blasting the radio to a fun song in the car. Impromptu dance parties in the grocery store. Jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Playing the guitar and screaming loud enough to wake up the babies next door. Messing with the karaoke app on our phones. Weekend get aways. Having lunch together. “Candy Friday” —we have a family tradition to buy a bunch of candy and popcorn and have movie night with the family on Fridays (then we limit or eliminate sugar and junk food intake the rest of the week). It’s the little things, guys. Big things are cool too. But if there’s not a little spark in your day-to-day, a little spring in your step, you’re missing out on some good times.

#7. Fill your phone with pictures of your spouse.

Soooooo, this one sounds a little weird. But it’s awesome. Nat and I have a collection of selfies we’ve taken together all over the world. Imagine how fun it would be to see selfies of your parents or grandparents together at different times of their lives? It’s cool. We also always take a picture together at the airport before one of us travels. We’ll post them to instagram or we’ll just text them to each other. Your phone should be filled with pictures of your spouse. It’s good to have a constant reminder that you carry around with you of what (or who) comes first in your life. There’s a cool app called ChatBooks  (disclosure: my sister works there and this is NOT an affiliate link) where you can put pictures together and turn them into a book. You can print 60 pictures in a book for on only $6 (you can also print your instagram feed). How cool would it be to have a little book of your own with pictures of each other together? Very cool.

#6. When the going gets tough, remember Tuckman’s stages of group development.

Never heard of it? Here you go. This is a model for understanding the development stages of a team (especially through times of change). This model has pulled us through many challenging times. Marriage is a team sport. Teams go through transitions. Here’s the stages of a team’s development that I want you to consider when you’re going through a “storm.” Here’s my own summary with quotes from Wikipedia. I’m going to put in the word “marriage” every time it says “team” to make it more relevant:

First you FORM. “In the first stage of [marriage] building, the forming of the [marriage] takes place. The individual’s behavior is driven by a desire to be accepted by the others, and avoid controversy or conflict.”

Then you STORM. “The storming stage is necessary to the growth of the [marriage]. It can be contentious, unpleasant and even painful to members of the [marriage] who are averse to conflict. Tolerance of each [marriage] member and their differences should be emphasized. Without tolerance and patience the [marriage] will fail.”

Then you NORM. “The [marriage] manages to have one goal and come to a mutual plan for the [marriage] at this stage. Some may have to give up their own ideas and agree with others to make the [marriage] function. In this stage, all [marriage] members take the responsibility and have the ambition to work for the success of the [marriage’s] goals.”

Then you PERFORM. “It is possible for some [marriages] to reach the performing stage. These high-performing [marriages] can function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision.”

What does all this mean to a marriage? To me, in our family, if we are going through a “storm,” I first recognize that it is a storm and just a storm. That the storm is a natural part of the process to eventually “norming” and then “performing.” With that optimistic perspective in place, I don’t let myself dive into a sink hole of despair when a storm begins to rage. I don’t immediately assume it’s the end of the world. I remember that it’s normal, and it’s just part of the process of marriage and family life. A storm will happen whenever change (aka: something new) comes into our lives.

I know this is long and somewhat involved, but if you’re going to remember anything from this tip, remember this: the storm will pass! Search for a common goal, work together towards that goal,  and you and your spouse will come out better and stronger because of it.

#5. Read together.

Movies are an obvious choice when you want to spend time together. It’s easy. But have you ever tried reading together? It’s different. I generally read too fast. Nat can’t understand anything I’m saying. So, Natalie will read (non-fiction, fiction, or scripture) aloud, and I’ll listen. It’s like going back in time. Though, when I say that to Natalie, she rolls her eyes at me. But really, it’s like time traveling to one of those strange British movies where everyone sits around reading poetry to each other all day. Why would anyone want to do that? Especially in today’s day and age when we have TV, Internet and iPhones (for crying out loud)? I don’t know, honestly. But the bottom line is that it brings us closer together. Period. We stop and chat about what we’re reading. We get insights about life. We apply what we learn to our own lives. It’s interesting. I’m not gonna lie to you and say it’s the most fun thing in the world (I’m working on getting more excited about it, because Natalie LOVES it so much), but there is no doubt that it does bring us closer together as a couple. Give it a try.

#4. Take three deep breaths.

It’s so simple, yet so effective. In good times and bad, through thick and thin, remember to breathe. Seriously. Take at least three DEEP breaths whenever you start to feel anxious about something (anything). I don’t know what it is about breathing, but getting fresh oxygen to the brain is like magic. It clears emotions away and allows you to think more clearly, and it also gives you time to step back and reflect on the situation to ensure you make conscious, proactive, wise decisions moving forward (the alternative to which would be rash, regrettable, reactive decisions—so breathing deep is well advised, wouldn’t you say?). Take three deep, conscious breaths right now, and you’ll see what I mean.

#3. Serve each other.

Not like slave labor. Not with a chip on your shoulder. Not with animosity or a desire to prove one thing or another. Rather, look for ways to meaningfully serve one another. Find out your spouse’s love language (giftsquality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or physical touch) and serve your spouse according to the love language that means most to him/her.

#2. Admire each other.

Don’t just love each other. Don’t just like each other. Don’t just respect each other. ADMIRE each other. Admiration is like loving and liking and respecting all wrapped together in one. Take a moment to think about (or actually list) the qualities you see in your spouse that make you admire him/her. What is it about your spouse that makes you look up to him/her? If you can both look up to each other, you’re gonna be okay, even when the going gets rougher than rough.

#1. Slow down.

Life’s short. Too short. And even though that saying is cliché, it doesn’t make it any less true. Ask anyone whose spouse has left this earth too soon. Life is precious.  It’s way too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life at the expense of the sweetness of spending down time together. So, slow down. I don’t mean you have to be less ambitious or dial down your goals. Quite the opposite. Set ambitious, aggressive, attainable goals to spend quality time with your spouse! Schedule it. And if that seems impossible, start by being PRESENT when you are together. Put down the phone. Turn off the TV. Put the computer away. Then sit and look each other in the eyes. Ask each other questions. Get to know each other all over again (and again, and again, and again). It’s worth it (every single time).


– I’ve created a 37-page action guide to help you get a personal project going. Consider applying the steps I outline to a “marriage project.” You can work on something fun that brings you and your spouse closer together!

– Get your free action guide here.

– Leave your comments below for your chance to win a copy of my book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid.

Written by on August 20, 2014 | Permalink | Trackbacks (0) Topics:




Natalie Norton

15 Comments post a comment
  1. Anson Service Aug 20th 8:47 am

    Love these tips. As far as I can see, you hit the nail on the head so precisely, with ninja-like skills, that it went through the board and went shooting out the other side into the wall behind it. I especially like the part about being a team. It has been a common theme among those whom I counsel that are divorced or on the verge of divorce that at some point they either stopped being a team or actually switched sides to be against the other. When a couple is for or against a mutual goal or cause they tend to become stronger. I am not necessarily a fan of a couple being against something together, but the phenomenon remains. It is when they start doing their own thing and start to have goals and desires that are not in harmony with the other, or when they develop or engage in activities that lead them in different directions that their relationship becomes endangered. This is when one of them claims to have “fallen out of love” or have “grown apart.” It’s true that a couple 12 years after marriage is not the same couple. They are not the same people. The point is to grow together like interweaving vines rather than apart. Sorry. Not trying to hijack your post. I just love what you wrote and when I like what people write I tend to be inspired to write as well. Thanks Richie. I am still going to have you out here sooner than later to speak. Rock on, my friend.

  2. Stacy Ahlgren Aug 20th 9:03 am

    I can thank you enough for all your words daily , you and your wife are insanely inspiring ! Happy anniversary and thanks for sharing some more amazing words I will put into play immediately :)

  3. Kostya Aug 20th 9:36 am

    Hey Bro! Congratulations! :) I wish you many happy years ahead together with Nat! I suppose you are going to publish a book on this subject on your 50th anniversary because it would be a lot of wisdom just for a blog post :)

    Thank you for these tips. I got married 2.5 years ago at the age of 23. And we expect a baby now. Me and my wife had the same background: divorced parents, broken hearts, single tired moms, lack of money. We didn’t have examples of happy families with strong faithful relationships between spouses, where kids love and respect their parents.

    By God’s grace I’ve met my wife when she was 16 at a christian kid summer camp. Our marriage is a covenant. It’s my main project and challenge. I want to make it right. I don’t want my kids to experience the same what we experienced. I always look for example and advice. And that’s where you and your beautiful family bring some light and guidance into my life :) Thank You!

    P.S.: When my wife browses your family pictures on social media she always asks: “Are they so happy in real life as I can see on their photos? If so, they have to be the happiest family on earth.”

  4. katrina Aug 20th 10:22 am

    I have always been following you and your wife’s blog and instagram and i have high respect to how you handle life. Happy Anniversary! Thank you for you being such great examples to everybody.

  5. Danielle Aug 20th 6:28 pm

    I love the part about respect. I think that we can often forget to respect our spouse whether in convo with others (either in joking or jest) or in front of our children when we might be arguing but you are right. If you still respect the other person than you wouldn’t find ways to pull them down or take a stab at them.

  6. Kristen roe Aug 20th 8:00 pm

    so much of marriage rests on out ability to choose grace. The world is a harsh place. A marriage should provide a soft landing spot as a counterbalance to the world outside. And in marriage, on emust always remember the love that was there, the love that started it all. What comes after- kids or the grief of no kids, career highs and lows, family drama, health or unhealth, these a true trials. Theareiage provides sustaining aupport through these trials . And in the end, fully believing with all of your heart that failure isn’t an option will bring you through the years where you will arrive at a life well loved, and lived.

  7. Dana Aug 20th 8:57 pm

    Happy anniversary Richie and Natalie! We just celebrated our 11th year, and I think what I love most about our marriage is the way that my husband is consistently there for me when things get hard (and hopefully he feels the same way about me, too.) I love your suggestion to read a book together instead of watching TV. We’re definitely trying that! (He doesn’t know it yet…but I’ll let him pick the book.) Anyway, thanks to you and Natalie for your examples of joy and positivity. I found Natalie from a bofm365 comment, and started following both your instagrams because your posts are so uplifting and full of love. Thanks :)

  8. Emily Gutman Aug 20th 9:02 pm

    Great post Richie! Funny thing reading about the breathing- I just learned in my yoga class tonight about the sympathetic vs the parasympathetic nervous systems, and apparently when we slow down and breathe deeply, we’re able to access our parasympathetic nervous system, which activates tranquil functions, including aiding in digestion (the human body is crazy!!), whereas the sympathetic causes more of a fight-or-flight response. So, all this is to say: yay breathing! :)

  9. Jonathan Lautaha Aug 20th 11:07 pm

    Hey brother norton! Thanks for your advice! I’m getting married in two weeks and absorb any advice on marriage. I just wanted to comment and day that I think sometimes too, we just need to stop and think, “do I want to win this argument, or do I want peace and love in my relationship? ” another thought I had was that we can’t let pressures or stresses of married life change is. Of course we want to change for the better, but we don’t have to ditch the personality that first won over or spouse. I also just wanted to comment because I want a shot at getting your book! Thanks!

  10. Malia Aug 21st 12:50 am

    Love this!!! I especially love your candy fridays :) may be something we need to adopt out here! Happy Anniversary you two! 12 years already?!?! We just celebrated 8 great years and loving everyday!!!

  11. Gina Palha Aug 21st 5:37 am

    Richie + Nat, you are both so inspiring on how you share your thoughts + powerful advice on life + business.
    my marriage has seen better days and it’s so hard to start + to build up a relationship again + sail the ship wisely + lovingly. Reading these words makes my heart soar a bit (or a lot) … so, Maybe some day you can share the ‘how-to to stop being lost in your marriage’ :)
    Thank you for being so inspiring + transparent + wise :)
    Sunny cheers from sunny me!

  12. Sarah Aug 24th 8:36 pm

    Thanks so much Richie. You and Nat always have wonderful advice but you keep it real. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Rachel Aug 25th 8:12 pm

    I love this post. I always think it’s strange at bridal showers when people give the advice, “Don’t go to bed angry.” I always say “don’t go to bed without saying I love you, even if you are angry.” Saying I love you when you’re mad speaks volumes.

  14. Conor Sep 15th 9:42 pm

    My first time on your blog, and I have just read all three series of your marriage lessons. This is beautiful, heartfelt writing, thank you for sharing these words and intentions.

  15. Heather Jackson May 21st 12:02 pm

    the straightforward candor in this article is cute. I’m sure your wife feels like the luckiest girl. I’m not married yet, but hope to find my prince charming soon! I like your tip about admiring each other. IT’s funny to watch my brother; he thrives on adoration. a pretty girl giving him some praise ignites a fire in him that can conquer anything and persuade him to be a darling. i think this would help so much, in marriage.


Richie and Natalie Norton

(Location: Dominican Republic, after Nat and I spoke at the What If Conference. Photo Credit: Josh Solar.)

Our marriage is one year older, one year wiser and one year stronger since last year’s post on this topic, How to Be Happily Married: 10 Years, 10 Lessons. Thanks for being my girl, Natalie! As I’ve reflected on our good times and challenging times, I’ve tried to encapsulate some of the lessons I’ve learned.

Note: This is more of a post for me to remember what’s most important so I can stay centered when life throws us a curve. I share it with you as a glimpse into my life in the hopes that you too can reflect on your own life lessons in creating a strong and happy marriage.


I want to hear your own life-lessons-learned in creating a happy marriage in the comments below because I know your insights will help me and others. As an anniversary gift for sharing, I’ll send out 11 copies of my book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid (1 book to 11 different individuals) at my expense to those with the most interesting / useful comments. I’m assuming that all comments will be important, but I’m limiting myself to only choosing 11. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get picked! :-) If you already have a book, you can give the book to someone you think could most benefit or have me mail it directly to their address. This offer is good for mailing addresses in the United States only (sorry!).

*Note: I’d still really appreciate your comments, however, this offer is now closed. 


Surprisingly, people (strangers even) often ask Natalie and I about our marriage and what we do to keep the love alive. It’s amazing what can happen over 11 years. Natalie and I could write entire books just on the craziness we’ve experienced alone. Based on some of those experiences, I’ve come up with 11 tips (principles, really) that make us happy that when practiced I believe will increase your happiness too.  These tips are based on the roles we play as a husband and wife team and what we try to do for each other to support one another.


#11. Lighten up, laugh it off, and live it up.

Life’s too short not to.


#10. Slow down, relax and take vacations…lots of them.

Long vacations are awesome. Short ones are too. Schedule time to take breaks. Take a weekend off, a day off, an hour off and just hang out together. Take time off alone, together, whatever, whenever. You need both alone time and together time. Whatever you do, take time to rejuvenate your soul. Spending time just doing nothing together has done a world of good for our marriage. Few things could be more important (and rewarding) to your relationship.


#9. Be here, not there.

When you’re talking to your spouse, be present…don’t let your mind be off in another world. This one’s hard for me because my mind is always racing from one idea to another. Sometimes I get so caught up in my thoughts that I actually don’t hear people talking to me. True story. That said, I’ve asked Natalie to help me out when she notices that I can’t hear her or I don’t appear to be fully listening by using my name. From there, I do my best to focus on her and only her. I’m nowhere close to good at this, but when I refrain from thinking of what I’m going to say next and simply listen, our conversations seem to be way more productive.


#8. Express deep gratitude.

Don’t let a day go by without expressing sincere gratitude for the little things (and big things) your spouse does.

#7. Don’t be right.

How many fights start and end with whose right, when in the end, being right only pulls you apart and leaves you alone with your rightness? Does anyone really win in that situation? Next time you’re caught up in the “I’m right, you’re wrong” trap, remember the words of Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock, “It takes two to make a thing go right.”


#6. Give each other courage.

I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m not talking about the dark. I’m talking about art. Creating. Business. Family. Getting out of my comfort zone. Being human. I need Natalie to give me courage. No man is an island and boy do I know it. Nat encourages me and helps me move from one stage of life to the next. We all need a boost. There should be no one better than you to give a boost to your spouse and vice versa.


#5. Confide in each other.

Don’t keep secrets from your spouse. Share secrets with each other. Be best friends. The key word here is trust. If your friends and coworkers know secrets about you that your spouse doesn’t know about, you’re on a slippery slope.


#4. Challenge yourself.

Everyday has the possibility of being the best day of your life. Everyday has the possibility of being better than the next. Gently challenge yourself to be a little better. Don’t nag your spouse or be self-righteous in your efforts. Don’t point out your spouse’s flaws. Simply be a little better spouse yourself. Look for specific ways you can improve your relationship and watch the magic happen.


#3. Celebrate with each other.

Why wait to celebrate? Celebrate the small wins, the big wins and everything in between. Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!


#2. Forgive each other.

Probably the single best advice any couple could receive.


#1. Experience life TOGETHER.

The key takeaway from the last 11 years is this: We experience life TOGETHER. We celebrate successes TOGETHER. We suffer losses TOGETHER. We share our dreams TOGETHER. I don’t mean we are always physically together, what I mean is that we don’t lead separate (or secret) lives with separate dreams and separate goals. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have different lives, dreams and goals. It means that we share in one another’s lives, dreams and goals.


They say that an airplane off course 90% of the time. I have no idea if that is true or not, but the principle is that when a plane is off course, the pilots realign to get back on course. In a happy marriage, the husband and wife are co-pilots on this big airplane called Life; realign your lives together so you arrive at the same daily destination: happiness.


 Marriage isn’t always easy. I love this poem about the strength we can gain through adversity. Enjoy!

The tree that never had to fight,

For sun and sky and air and light,

But stood out on the open plain,

And always got it’s share of rain,

Never became a forest king,

But lives and dies a scrawny thing.


The man who never had to toil,

To gain and farm his patch of soil,

Who never had to win his share,

Of sun and sky and light and air,

Never became a manly man,

But lived and died as he began.


Good timber does not grow in ease,

The stronger the wind, the stronger trees

The farther sky, the greater the length

The more the storm, the more the strength,

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In tree and men good timbers grow.


Where thickest lies the forest growth

We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

Whose broken branches show the scars

This is the common law of life.


                  – Douglas Mallock


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83 Comments post a comment
  1. Carol Aug 31st 11:43 am

    Dance together! Be silly together. I think that’s one way we stay happy. Together.

    Love you guys!

  2. Libby Aug 31st 12:06 pm

    Just like negativity in a relationship feeds on more negativity until it spirals into muck, so too can something good lead to more of the same. A kind word, a wink, a joke, a choice to consciously turn an argument or a conversation around can lead to more goodwill and grace and room to breathe. Never underestimate the power you have to decide who you want to be in your relationship and trust in the momentum of good feeling. It’s powerful stuff!

  3. Amanda Aug 31st 12:07 pm

    Be unpredictable (in a good way). Sometimes suggest a date idea that you know your spouse will love even if it is something that is not your first choice. pick a restaurant or movie genre that you generally avoid knowing they will enjoy it much more than what you’d pick for yourself.

  4. Mickisha Aug 31st 12:46 pm

    Being understood is an amazing thing! When I really try to understand how my husbands brain and feelings work and vice versa . then we can better work together, communicate, and show each other love in the way that we each like (or understand) best!

  5. Alicia Corbridge Aug 31st 1:05 pm

    I get so wrapped up in my own wishes, dreams, goals, projects and hobbies that I put more importance on them then on my husbands wishes, dreams, projects and hobbies . I sometimes forget about him altogether when I am working for myself on the things that are important to me and not so much to him. And visa versa. That’s when we argue the most, when our own projects are more important than our spouses projects or our spouses all together. But when we put our own project aside and help the other accomplish theirs, our hearts soften , we work together, we bond, we understand each other better and we actually get things done and then help the other finish what was set aside. That’s made all the difference In Our marriage. Having a passion for our spouses passion and supporting each other and feeding each others fire. I am a photographer and artist, something my husband could care less about on his own, but because that is my passion it has become his. He supports, encourages, supplies, funds, tolerates, make sacrifices, inspires and much more. He pushes me to peruse my passion even though he doesn’t share it. And in turn I have tried to do the same, his passions are now mine and because he tries so hard to make my dreams a reality, how could I not do the same in return. We are most happy together when we focus on the other.

    Thank you for this post and thanks to your whole family for being awesome and an inspiration to me for a long time now!

  6. Carly Aug 31st 1:51 pm

    My wisdom is limited to one month of engagement, but I appreciate reading this as we prepare to be married. I like your advice on courage and would add the prefix en to make it encourage, as well.

  7. Christy Aug 31st 2:03 pm

    Believe in your spouse and all that they are capable of, even when they and/or others don’t.

  8. Ashlin Aug 31st 3:16 pm

    take risks together! live life in a way that allows growth. Don’t get stuck in the day to day when there are people to help, sacrifices to make, and ideas to make into a reality. Could you fail? Yes you could, but the lessons learned in failing can be put toward the next success. as I have done this with my spouse we have learned to stick together, rely on each other, focus on higher purposes, and make waves!

  9. Kristi Aug 31st 3:24 pm

    Serve each other and work together!
    Sometimes we focus on our individual to-do lists, but checking things off the other spouse’s list (whether written or just something you know needs to get done) can show how much you really care. Also, doing the daily boring stuff together like grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc can be so much more fun and rewarding!

  10. Jennifer Garbett Aug 31st 5:44 pm

    “Successful marriages are not made up of two perfect people, but of two imperfect people who have learned the value of forgiveness and grace.”
    This counsel along with a concentrated effort toward continued dating and away time for our relationship outside of the role of mom and dad is one of the most important things we do to strengthen our marriage. We make sure we do a small getaway each year even if its just shipping the kids to grandmas. It has been invaluable for us to build these memories and decompress together from our daily lives.

    If you wake up each day with a self less attitude of how can I make my spouses life better today…I also believe it is a powerful way to stay connected for years to come.

    I just celebrated 14 years with my #1.

    Thanks for your words and inspiration!!

  11. martina Aug 31st 7:39 pm

    Some advice that was given to us when we got married (10 yrs ago) that still makes me smile is…. “Always fight naked” …. see you’re smiling now too…
    On a more serious note, We work best when we have a common goal. once that one is achieved grab another one quick, sometimes contention can creep in when we let our guard down.

  12. Allison miles Aug 31st 8:20 pm

    Two things:
    1-always give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Nine out of ten times, he (or she) didn’t actually mean to offend, irritate, frustrate you. Then kindly ask him about whatever offended, irritated, or frustrated you–give him a chance to explain and them explain why it made you feel how you did.

    2- if you do for your spouse, it will come back to you tenfold. Small acts of kindness go a long, long way. And doing even a handful of things each day does not take much effort, just some thoughtfulness and planning.

  13. Mandy Aug 31st 9:03 pm

    Enjoy Eachothers triumphs!! It goes along with celebrating with eachother! Make sure we celebrate for eachother. When Jake wins I win when I win Jake wins so who ever wins an argument we both win:D haha:D Love that:D

  14. James Stiefvater Aug 31st 11:20 pm

    REminisce. remember the goofy things you did before and discuss again and again how you met, first impressions, and so on.

  15. Steve manning Sep 01st 12:08 am

    Buy flowers for no other reason than to see your partner smile

  16. Jazzman Nelson Sep 01st 1:31 am

    One thing that has been consistent for us in our marriage and has definately worked for us has been to make sure there was a balance in our roles as husband and wife. Meaning that we worked together whether it be house work, establishing and following childrens routines, “me time” and “our time”. We knew that if we were doing these things together that ther would be no any room for arguments andwe would always be on the same page most of the time! We have seen so many blessings come into our lives simply because we chose to make this a priority in our marriage.

  17. Becky Sep 01st 4:03 am

    My biggest lesson in having a successful marriage right now is learn from your history. My parents do not have a good marriage and I look to do the opposite of what they do. It’s worked and we are better for it. Mutual respect is so important for us. I am also having to learn to grow, change and adapt as our life is changing. My husbands job is getting busier in the medical field and my kids are starting school. We have a lot of changes happening and as a result I have been planning lots if impromptu trips to keep us together as a family and show our kids that our parents do things together. Thanks for being an inspiration.

  18. Corey Sep 01st 5:33 am

    Small acts of love/service on a regular basis are very therapeutic. Waking up early to make a lunch, leaving a love note on the mirror, doing your spouse’s least favorite chore, etc. This has helped us. Happy 6 years today :)

  19. Natalie Sep 01st 5:59 am

    I love you!!!!

  20. natascha Sep 01st 7:12 am

    Remember to be grateful. Grateful that you found someone to share your life with and to love you, when so many are still searching. Grateful that you were brought together, when a wrong turn could have so easily taken you down a different path, and away from one another. Grateful for the small things like having someone to take out the trash, and for the big things – in my case: a beautiful new baby, and finally finding a sense of home in someone. But most importantly, sharing that gratitude and appreciating one another every single day.

  21. Robin Sep 01st 9:11 am

    Have the courage to have the tough conversations. We always begin with… “We’ll be okay, but…” Starting from a place of love and commitment allows us to face just about anything. And if you physically touch during that conversation, you’ll reach the other side together.

  22. Ikaika Sep 01st 9:17 am

    Don’t underestimate the importance of a healthy sexual relationship. kick the kids out of your bed. hire a sitter if you need to. but don’t let life get in the way of the intimacy that naturally draws to people together in a way that only sex can. be responsive to each other’s needs. there are many days you’re “too tired” to go to work, but you do it anyway. your spouse is more important than work, so leave the excuses (and your clothes) at the door and find out how much you can do while “tired.” :-)

  23. Kate Sep 01st 9:50 am

    Mariage is a crucible…one partner triggering the old deep soul wounds of the other. When one desires to truly grow in love, there is none other than the soul mate relationship that is as powerful.

  24. Crystal Sep 01st 10:35 am

    My favorite is #10-slow down, relax, and take vacations….lots of them!!! I’m a huge fan of this because I believe enjoying life and all it has to offer is what brings joy and happiness in to your life. Being able to share that with your spouse is even better & SO important!!! We’ve done a good Job at going on lots of trips together & a lot of ppl wonder how or even why we’d spend so much money on that. But to me, if you think it’s important, you’ll find away. Even when we were both broke college students with babies we still found a way to travel. My answer to how is just treating travel like a bill each month. And to those that wonder why wed spend that kind of money, well, I just feel plain ole sorry for them. Hahaha! No but foreo though!! Lol. I feel sorry for those ppl that are too afraid to take some time out to enjoy life. To me the cost is absolutely 100% worth it!

    And lastly, I know what u mean about not being able to focus sometimes on what the other person is saying. That can be very hard for me too and i always catch myself in my own world, but it’s because like you, my brain is always thinking. Constantly. Sometimes I can’t even get sleep at night cuz my brain just won’t stop, but I’m definitely going to try and be better about that part. Oh and the right thing too. it’s like I always wanna be right. And why?!! I freakin have no idea. HAhahaha!

    Anyways, I hope I win!! Haha’ spencer and I have recently jumped off the school wagon and want to jump on the business wagon, but almost everything I suggest, he thinks is stupid, and almost everything he suggests, I think is stupid!! Hahaha! (Ok so that was a little exaggerated. Haha. But seriously, we are having the hardest time agreeing on something to do/start.) especially since living I hawaii is already tough financially as it is. Aaaannnnyways….sorry for the novel… seminary teacher dis erff!! You were inspiring then and you are still inspiring now…even though I haven’t seen you or your wife in years (I was following her blog for a while too & you both are amazing!!) ps-thanks to one of your books I paid the extra money to go all the way to the top of the Empire State Building a few months ago ….and you were so right. Paying a little extra for the better view was SO worth it!!

  25. Sarah Sep 01st 11:02 am

    I’ve always remembered something my mom once told me about arguing. In our first year of marriage, I was complaining to her about a couple of things my husband did that drove me absolutely crazy. When I finished she asked me if I still love him. I said of course and then she said the things I just vented out were just “fluff”. That’s all those little annoying things are…just fluff and to let it go. As long as you remember the reason you fell in love then all the little stuff doesn’t matter at all and you can learn to deal with “fluff”.

  26. Heather Sep 01st 1:56 pm

    Talk about past experiences. Whether it’s from your respective childhoods, time before you met or even past shared experiences – you will be amazed at the different insights you will discover, laugh about and feel deeper respect and closeness through realizing. It’s in the revisiting that you find out different motivations and emotions that were in your head, but your spouse might never have realized. You may believe you know everything about your spouse or those same old stories, but believe me it isn’t true. After 16 years, my husband and I are continually delighted by what we discover about each other by simply reminiscing – but instead of telling the same old stories – asking each other different questions we realize we’ve always wondered about.

  27. Katie Sep 01st 4:02 pm

    Early on in our marriage, my husband and I discussed the importance of never bringing up the “D” word (divorce) no matter how hard things might get. Sounds odd, but I have always remembered this during hard and difficult times. I come from a divorced family and never understood how couples could get divorced when they once loved each other so much. Through the years I’ve seen how much it has benefited our marriage to never bring up that word! we’ve been through plenty of rocky times, but at the end of the day i can’t imagine going through it with anyone else, and wonder how different our marriage would be if we had ever brought up the “d” word when times get tough! Another important and helpful tip I have to offer is to let your spouse know if something is particularly important to you. My first month of marriage I let my husband know that birthdays are important to me because i know that birthdays in his family aren’t really a big deal. I explained that he doesn’t need to feel like he has to get me an amazing gift or spend lots of money, but that its important to me that he make me feel special on my birthday. Silly? maybe, but i knew i didn’t want to resent him every year on my birthday if he didn’t really make a fuss and i hadn’t told him how important it is for me. He has never let me down :) Communication is key to a happy marriage. Make the time to talk! make the time to laugh, and if you need to cry, you should feel comfortable doing so in front of your spouse and allow them to be your shoulder to cry on. PS. richie I would loooove to win your book! ;-)

  28. MCatherine Sep 01st 4:34 pm

    after 40 years of marriage, here’s what I know: little things can mean a lot-holding hands, kissing good night/good morning, being polite and respectful with one another, and our bonus–we keep a hide a heart in play as our perpetual love note.

  29. Bill Sep 01st 5:26 pm

    I would add to your “celebrate together” – among those days we celebrate together are “monthaverseries.” We were married on the 21st of December so the 21st of each month is a day we celebrate!

  30. Metta Prieto Sep 01st 9:00 pm

    Here are our two cents worth:

    PRIORITIZE INTIMACY. About the time that we were married seven years ago, I read a book with a brief paragraph that for me diversified my definition of intimacy. It spoke of intimacy not only in the bedroom sense of the term, but also intimacy at play, at work, intimacy on an emotional and intellectual, intimacy in service, etc. As we have prioritized intimacy in various facets of our life, such as intimacy at work (talking while doing the dishes together after the kids to bed), or intellectual intimacy (watching TED talks together and discussing them), or intimacy in service (watching a friend’s kids, or preparing a meal for another family), we have been enriched by our time to connect. A bonus of seeking out intimate time together is that when we see each other in action, we are attracted to each other with more than just bedroom attraction – we have a chance to be attracted to each other’s smarts, to the ways we each contribute to our home life, and to the kindness we see in each other as we serve our friends and neighbors, side by side.

    REMEMBER: WE ARE NOT A STATISTIC. This is our family motto, and we have had to use it at the crossroads of many intense life situations. Sometimes being a statistic can be comfortable because it means that we’re not alone, but more often than not we feel like it impairs our ability to see what we can become as a couple and as a family. We use it as our mantra to remind us of our freedom to make decisions that will bring us the most happiness.

    KEEP READING. I can’t tell you how many times reading has made an impact on how we do things. Reading about communication helps us to change bad habits we’ve grown into, reading about leadership enhances our approach to our children and each other, and reading about marriage and love improves how we treasure our relationship. Reading insightful literature and articles challenges us to evaluate our status quo and become better partners and friends.

    Thanks Richie!

  31. Jane Sep 01st 9:21 pm

    things i’ve learned from 11 years of marriage:
    (1) don’t take your spouse for granted – take time to sincerely connect with your spouse every day – “How did the world sit with you today?”
    (2) don’t bring up old arguments and old “wounds” – keep the past in the past.
    (3) appreciate your spouse – tell them at least one thing that they did that day that you appreciated .
    (4) don’t make sarcastic jokes or talk badly about your spouse in front of others- friends, neighbors, your family or his.
    (5) good humor – laughter and fun ease the stress of everyday challenges.

  32. Esther Sep 02nd 1:52 pm

    Never give up on each other. My husband and I are constantly figuring out who we are as a couple and what we want out of our lives. It has given us a lot of stress and confusion, for us as a couple and as parents. But I am forever grateful that my husband and I have agreed on one thing: we won’t give up. He doesn’t give up on his role as my husband and the father of our children, and in turn I don’t give up on him, on us, and on me. It makes all the trials worth it because we know that that determination to keep going builds our love for each other and keeps our marriage in proper perspective.

    I love this list, though. I agree with everything, and there are great points I can add to our marriage as well!

  33. Andrew follan Sep 03rd 8:41 pm

    ALWAYS REmember that it could actually be YOU causing the issue and that a relationship works both ways!

  34. Brittany Sep 04th 9:25 am

    Develop Christ like love towards your spouse, show them compassion, be humble, pray together, and pray for them. put God first, and then your spouse and you will find true joy in your marriage.

  35. alice Sep 05th 7:24 am

    be the husband and wife that are still boyfriend and girlfrient too!
    My mom told me this one day when I was struggling in my marriage and it has helped a lot. When you become husband and wife, sometimes we start treating each other differently than when we were dating. this reminds me to keep doing the things you did for one another when you were dating to keep the spark alive and to never stop “dating” your spouse.

  36. Rhonda Sep 05th 8:34 am

    Great list!!! I did a blog post not that long ago with my 13 marriage lessons for our 13th anniversary too..

  37. Linds Sep 05th 12:27 pm

    Lean on each other, we had a scary but bonding experience a few days into the marriage. When big, tough things come up I remember those feelings- comforted to know I had someone there to share the experience with. Now he’s living his own something stupid and we are ready for a new adventure!

  38. Chuck Lasker Sep 05th 12:33 pm

    I’ve been married for over 31 years to the same woman. The tips you shared are awesome, and there are many similar ways couples can develop that work for them. For us I like to narrow it down to two words: “Don’t Leave.”

    Now, there are exceptions to that, like spousal abuse or values differences that become too divisive. But any two people who are together almost all the time for decades are going to have issues. Some people, when the going gets tough, leave – have an affair, walk out, whatever – they end their relationship.

    If, instead, when the relationship gets rocky, maybe boring, maybe just so much happening it gets tense, maybe feeling like you’re just no longer in love, just don’t leave. Keep living together. Do the thinks you’ve always done, like go to the movies, eat at restaurants together, shop together, or not. Just don’t leave. Over time, often a very short time, it comes back, that love, that “we’re in this together” feeling, and things get better. And then things get great again.

    Even when you feel like it’s “over,” don’t leave.

  39. Melanie Cameron Sep 05th 12:36 pm

    We have been married for 33 years. The biggest lesson I have learned is that of commitment. When I got married I expected to “live happily ever after.” When we had our first fight after getting married I ran home to my mom. She wouldn’t let me in the house! She sent me back to my husband and told me to work it out. My commitment was now to my husband and not to my parents and siblings. Too many marriages end because the commitment is gone. We are in this for the long haul – through thick and thin, through health and sickness, through good times and bad – to eternity and beyond.

  40. melinda pike Sep 05th 12:36 pm

    it is okay to go to bed angry. staying up late trying to sort things out is not typically productive as tired minds aren’t clear and a good nights sleep can bring insight and perspective. wake up and start a new day. if the issue is still pressing when you wake, write it down then discuss it.

  41. Keola Sep 05th 12:42 pm

    The thing that has made the biggest difference in my marriage is letting God be part of it. When I am frustrated, or don’t understand things, when I have even wanted to give up, God has been there to give me peace. Of course I had to turn to him, I had to let him in, but once I did the peace and understanding came. The best feeling and the best blessing I’ve had in my marriage is praying together (with and for) my spouse.

  42. Chrissy Allen Sep 05th 12:56 pm

    What we have learned is that you have to love yourself to love another. We have been through hardships and wonderful times. Most people would have called it quits after our first year of marriage, we lost everything you can think of. We did not get help from my family for certain reason, so Jim being the strong and supportive husband that he always has been called his family to ask if we could live with them. We packed up our apartment in one day and moved down to Phoenix with nothing more that 250.00 to our name. All that money went to paying his cousin for gas to drive up to pick us up and to drive us to Phoenix. There were great days and then there were days that I have chosen not to remember. But we held strong to each other and to the Lord. Family ties are healed now, but the best thing we have learned is that we are stronger together than when we are divided. We always talk, we share our feelings and thoughts, our dreams, our fears, just everything. To make a marriage last is to be your spouse’s best friend. I know I can always count on Jim to be in my corner. I will always be in his, no matter the situation or anything. When we made our vows in the LDS Temple to be together for time and all eternity we knew we were in this for all the good and bad times, but untied as a strong family front to show our future kids love and faith can overcome anything.

  43. Lindsey-shaun Sep 05th 12:56 pm

    I wanted to share something that I was told 8 years ago that has stuck with me, helped me, and applies to most situations. that is. LEARN TO ACCEPT INSTEAD OF EXPECT. We are all unique creatures who do things the only way we know how . . . problem is thats the only way we know how. other people do things differently. If you step back and realize that there are more ways then one, step back and accept . . . you can learn to accept behaviors, perspectives, and reasons why someone does what they do or why they are who they are. you learn to accept them for them and appreciate the difference. you LEARN LOTS TOO!!!

  44. Christian Sep 05th 12:59 pm

    12 years, 2 continents, 7 addresses, 4 kids – and we’re still married! I love my wife, and am grateful for your input Richie. Here are some points I’d add:

    Go to bed at the same time. This helps couples stay connected. Getting a good night’s sleep boosts health and positivity as well.

    Share something spiritual daily. If you pray, pray. Together.

    Learn something new. Individually and together. Don’t be afraid to tackle a new project or task just because it is new.

    Let the big decisions be unanimous. There is no room for inequality.

    Cook and eat together.

    Create family traditions. They have an amazing power to bring the family together.

    Share sweet poems, thoughts and texts. Letting each other know that we’re thinking of each other makes our days that much brighter.

    Talk and work on the things that are difficult. Don’t pretend they don’t exist.

    For me (and most guys) it is important to learn the diffence between really listening (and just listening) — and fixing things. Big difference.

    Surprise each other in positive ways.

    Take pictures at least monthly.

  45. Jennifer Marion Sep 05th 1:03 pm

    After 20 years of marriage, we have a few! I write a blog called Hows your love life, basing it on Mark 12:30, the commandment to love God, self and others. Under love others is my lessons learned, mostly about loving your spouse and children well.

  46. Abby b Sep 05th 1:19 pm

    Embrace the smelly underwear.

    I can’t even begin to imagine the number of times I have griped and groaned about stinky laundry. Sort, wash, fold, put away, repeat. Then one day I had a medical scare. (Praise The Lord JUST a scare) I was home alone which rarely happens and wanted, no…needed the arms of my husband around me more than ever before. Trying to stay busy, I began doing mindless chores and came upon the pole of dirty laundry and so I began to sort it in preparation to wash. As I picked through socks and jeans, t-shirts and pajamas, I kept tossing each into its respective pile when I came across a pair of boxer shorts that my husband got as a birthday gift from our then 6year old son. My husband is a plain cotton boxer guy and unbeknownst to me our son had bought him bright yellow and orange Homer Simpson boxer shorts, a show we have never even turned on in our home!! My husband embraced the gift as if it was from his very favorite tv show and our son was so proud and my heart exploded into tiny bits at both their generosity and love.

    In that moment I did the unthinkable…I embraced the smelly underpants. I laughed and cried with myself and Homer Simpson sitting in the middle of a mountain of stinky dirty laundry and thanked god for those underwear and everything they stand for in this home and in our family. Those dirty clothes smelled like everything that makes up my heart and soul and for a moment I was reluctant to wash any of it in fear I wouldn’t get to smell those smells ever again. (I did eventually wash the laundry)

    Stupid smelly underpants made me realize how grateful I am for the little things. Little things like wearing uncomfortable elastic waist underpants because someone you love got them for you and has given me an overwhelming appreciation for the man I married.

  47. Leana Bush Sep 05th 1:19 pm

    My husband and I are still in our first year of marriage, but there are many things that I have learned. One of those things being to take an interest in EVERY part of each others life. We both come from different cultures right next to that is we had very different upbringings/lifestyles. There are some things that my husband likes that I don’t particularly care for and vise versa and there are things that we both enjoy together. Seeing this in our marriage we decided we ought to see what’s on the other side so to speak. So we both join and participate in each others traditions, hobbies, jobs, ideas etc. as we have done this I have noticed that there are some things where I stand by my original thoughts. Other things I have come to accept, they may not be what I like but I understand why my husband likes them. Then there are things that I have learned I was a fan if and didn’t even know it. This has definitely helped us see eye to eye and to be happy with ourselves, each other and even those we surround ourselves with!

  48. Sean nufer Sep 05th 1:30 pm

    Many people have this concept of give and take. As in, the relationship is 50% give and 50% take (you scratch my back, then I’ll scratch your back). In practice, that equation more likely resembles 30% give and 70% take. Not that we are bad people, but we might put more weight into our own contributions and either not notice or not appreciate our companions’ contributions.

    I believe that happiness comes from service. We should have the mentality of giving 100% and expecting 0%. Incidentally, when we have that mentality, both spouses are likely to give 100%. We reciprocate kindness and it truly leads to a wholesome relationship. You might even say that when the ratio is 100:0, we lose ourselves individually but find ourselves collectively. That’s what a marriage should be.

  49. Matthew Sep 05th 1:44 pm

    Having purpose and meaning. This is a principle often reserved for individual happiness but it is just as important, if not more so, in a marriage relationship. Marriages make the world a better place. Marriages can influence the world for good. Most of the happiness that results from a healthy marriage relationship comes not only from being together, but from how being together has influenced other lives. The long term happiness that flows from families has been the foundation, and goal, of my relationship with my wife, and it makes our marriage feel like a fun bike ride toward a large happy family reunion with our future kids and grandkids.

  50. ann rachel colton Sep 05th 2:58 pm

    i think it’s very important in marriage to not give up on your individual dreams, goals, and aspirations. Having goals and dreams gives so much spice to life, it gives us hope, something to look forward to and a feeling of sweet satisfaction in working towards. often times as women we give up or delay our dreams to sacrifice for our partner’s and children’s convenience. marriage is about sacrifice but it shouldn’t be one sided, I strongly believe a mark of a strong marriage is one that bends but doesn’t break, if your goal is to continue with your education and for some reason it’s just too hard for your partner to accept and be flexible to work with then your marriage isn’t strong enough. marriage should be liberating and we should allow our spouses to grow , evolve, and flourish in marriage. I love this quote from a Margaret hinkley she said of our beloved prophet Pres. Gordon b. Hinkley , “You have always given me wings to fly, and I have loved you for it.” In marriage we need to cherish the gift of oneanother’s being, for we are all unique and loved by our heavenly father.

  51. Jenn Sep 05th 3:27 pm

    Love that you posted that poem. My dad used to recite it all the time. It is actually a joke with husband and I now. So the story I want to share is from the lds perspective. when i first started dating daniel, we talked a lot about what we thought was important in life and in a marriage. the thing I shared with him was something i learned from my dad. If you do everything in your power to get your spouse back to live in God’s presence and your spouse does the same thing you are both on the front lines fighting for one another not having to worry about the small things because you serving each other with the big things. I don’t know that makes sense? But, this works for us. Making those sacrifices to help bring one another that ULTIMATE happiness with in turn bring you great happiness as well. As long both of you are committed to doing this! I think the world of you and Natalie and hope all is well! Happy Anniversary to you! (ours is next friday! HOORAY!

  52. Richard Sep 05th 3:59 pm

    Do more than your share
    Someone once told me that marriage is not a 50-50 relationship.
    being married is actually 100-100. We have to do, give, and be the best we can be in order for it to work.

  53. Kristin Sep 05th 4:08 pm

    Go to bed angry. You always the advice, “never go to bed angry,” but it’s amazing what can be solved with a good night sleep and a good breakfast. A lot of things that seemed like big issues seem to magically turn into small or non-exist ones and the issues that are still there in the morning can be discussed rationally and level-headedly.

  54. star Sep 05th 4:12 pm

    Match … like you did for your homecoming dance in high school. Every sunday for nearly 9 years (as well as on other special occasions and dates) my husband and I have coordinated our outfits. Usually it just means my husband picks his tie based on what I’m wearing. This doesn’t sound like much, but it shows we are still willing to be mushy and cheesy. It means we’ve taken the time to look at each other and notice one another (which is hard to do with 3 small children keeping us busy). It shows we are still trying to look good for the other person. Sure, it is the cheesiest thing ever, but then again, it reminds us of when we first fell in love and were newlyweds. It makes us happy.

  55. Anson Service Sep 05th 4:25 pm

    I believe each of us have a right and a gift to receive special and privileged “inspiration” or “intuition” about our spouse and marriage. This is not something you can learn how to harness from a book but it is a natural ability I think most marriages can develop, even if it is sometimes buried by logic and other “stuff.” I cannot tell you enough how important it is to pay close attention to it as it will tell you when things are right and when things are wrong in your relationship. It can tell you when your spouse is happy and content in your marriage and when he/she is upset or dissatisfied when the conventional methods of communication have broken down or are in need of attention. We must quiet ourselves through prayer and meditation to better recognize the gentle proddings of inspiration in our lives and not allow work, TV, or other activities and thoughts to overshadow our life’s most important relationships.

  56. Anson Service Sep 05th 4:35 pm

    Oh oh oh – One More. Sorry. I am full of these things. This is from my own life. When I am feeling upset and disconnected from my wife, I try to do something almost immediately to be a “super husband.” I try to be that guy that every woman would LOVE to have as her husband. For instance, if I am having a rough time with something, I make my wife some herbal tea. I was a little miffed yesterday about something and we had a little spat. Today she woke up to our room transformed into a spa. There were candles lit, she was awakened by soothing instrumental music, the scent of lavender, and the massage table (a great investment for any married couple) set up. I gently pulled her out of bed (don’t worry – this is G rated) and layed her on the massage table and gave her a nice relaxing massage. Afterward we spent the rest of the day together doing stuff. We fall deeper and deeper in love. So – the moral is – give service… especially when things get bumpy. A rose on her pillow with a short note saying how much I love her does wonders. Bringing home her favorite dinner when she is not expecting it is priceless. Bragging her up to your friends shows her that you are proud to be with her. Lots of little nice things make for one big successful marriage experience. Its awesome!

  57. Keetu Sep 05th 7:11 pm

    Give affections and show interest in your spouse.
    Actions usually speak louder than words, I really think that any expressions of love in our daily routines play a very important role in a happy marriage but even more when our sweetheart knows and is often reminded of how much we love and care about him or her FOR IT CAN BE A POWERFUL SOURCE OF strengthS, MOTIVATIONS,STRONG self-esteem, INSPIRATIONS …

  58. Sandra Sep 05th 7:36 pm

    Never stop talking to each other, respecting each other, and loving each other.

  59. Cheilsea Sep 08th 10:26 am

    Communicate with each other! One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that my husband can’t always read my mind and I certainly can’t always read his. When we assume we know what the other is thinking, it can lead to unrealistic expectations and hurt feelings. So instead of assuming… Ask, tell, talk, kiss, hug. Just communicate! :)

  60. Talisha reupena Sep 08th 1:21 pm

    Reminisce about your dating days and laugh at all the things you used to do to impress each other. Recreate dates or times you thought were the best! We have fun all the time and never take each other too seriously!

  61. Tiffany Sep 08th 1:33 pm

    You have to be willing to give 100 percent with zero expectation of receiving anything in return. Only when you are willing to take 100 percent responsibility for making the relationship work, WILL IT WORK. WE HAVE FOUND THIS TO BE SO TRUE IN OUR MARRIAGE AND HAS REALLY STRENGTHENED OUR RELATIONSHIP.

  62. Amy Paulson Sep 08th 1:45 pm

    Love this… And the story that you and your wife are telling. For me, one of the greatest PRACTICES for our marriage has been looking for the good in each other. It can be so easy to start to see flaws. And yet, it is so easy to find the good – once we start searching for it. I ache that I only realized that this year. I need to give myself to seeing the best in him. Even if you can only start with “he smells nice” – cling to it and keep looking. I’m finding that the more I look – the more I see – but if I don’t start – I could miss it all. So i try to give myself to finding all the good, sharing it, telling him, shouting it from the rooftops. The other important thing? I need to do the same for myself and receive it when he shares it. Shame and negativity suffocates love.

  63. Crystal blackledge Sep 08th 1:45 pm

    Remember you are on the same team, have the Same goals, and forgive quickly as your quality of life will be better! Also thank each other daily… Even for random things!

  64. Chelsea Stewart Sep 08th 1:51 pm

    One of the best pieces of advice my husband and I received when we got married was this: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side…but where you WATER it more.”

  65. Carley Sep 08th 2:06 pm

    Honestly, my marriage is not the strongest, or happiest. We struggle a lot! But the thing that gets us through every problem is never giving up. We have to remind ourselves that this marriage is worth it! Don’t give up! Also, when things are rough, I like to remember what made us fall in love. Before marriage, before kids, we were just kids in love! Remembering what made us feel so carefree and happy makes my heart burst with love for my husband, because he is still that man that has my heart for eternity.

  66. Christal bevans Sep 08th 2:25 pm

    I think in times of trials pulling together made us stronger not only physically but spiritually . We have never been able to conceive a big righteous desire right and it could have ripped us apart but we worked hard followed our hearts and that still small voice inside to do more together to cover and lean on each other through our pain . Which eventually lead us to four beautiful children adopted through LDS family services . We went through root coasters to get them buy that fire drove us stronger together with blessings and miracles we never thought we’d see in this life. He is my best friend and I can’t imagine our live any other way then together growing stronger every year working in 17 years together . ( great article I t on my blog last week :) you two are inspiring !!

  67. toni Sep 08th 2:54 pm

    this is my very favorite quote about marriage! and I’m sharing it because I really want your book!

    Romance is nice. But it is biological in origin. That dizzy head-over-heels feeling is a species of losing your mind, and most of the time it lasts only as long as the chase. What we keep forgetting is that in marriage, as opposed to romances, you aren’t marrying the thrilling wonderful perfect Someone you’re looking at right now. You’re marrying the man who decides not to have the dazzling career with the high salary, refusing promotions and transfers so the kids don’t have to change schools. You’re marrying the woman whose body doesn’t bounce back after the third baby, so she’s no longer slim and attractive by the standards of the magazines. You’re marrying the migraines and the hemorrhoids and the heart attack and the cancer; you’re marrying the irritable, forgetful, lazy, thoughtless, sarcastic, distracted, too-busy days as well as the Kodak-happy ones.

    You’re marrying the one who works with you to raise the crippled child, or stands with you at the graveside of the child who dies. You’re marrying the one who can’t find work after the company folds or he’s laid off; you’re marrying the early Alzheimer’s, the diabetes, the obesity, the pain of conflict and the struggle of forgiveness. The foundation of that isn’t some ideal of romantic love. It’s a commitment based on the goals you share. And real love, married love, is not what you start with–it’s what you create together along the way.

    –Orson Scott Card

  68. amy Sep 08th 4:49 pm

    We met when we were 18 and will be celebrating 11 years together this October – Not of legal marriage, but of exclusive commitment. Was it “stupid” to spend our college years and twenty-somethings with the same significant other? Some might have said so. But we were keenly aware that there was a reason we’d come together, if only to support one another on a journey through this sometimes crazy world.

    We knew that relationships take work and were willing to put in the effort. One of the things that’s helped the most is recognizing that though we share much of our lives together, we also are separate individuals with differing passions and goals. Giving each other the space and, most importantly, the trust to pursue them, has helped us grow and evolve as human beings and as a union. We went to colleges in different towns at different times; I lived in Prague; he traveled through Spain. The list goes on, but through it all we were open and honest with both ourselves and each other.

    Love your 11 tips. Was a great nudge to reflect on our 11. Congrats to you and Nat and cheers to many more years!

  69. Sarah Sep 08th 5:01 pm

    plan your Saturdays, before saturday starts. sometimes i wake up at 8am with my list of things to do, both work and play. he wakes up an hour or two later wanting a blank canvass for the day. if we talk about it during the week and even finalize a saturday plan on friday night, our free time is quality relationship-strengthening time, even if the entire day isn’t spent together. it’s a more enjoyable day and there is less conflict because we’re both always looking forward to saturdays.

  70. Daina Sep 08th 5:53 pm

    Never name call when fighting! There is nothing more degrading to someone you love than to call them bad names. Keep your arguments to the issue at hand, don’t go for the kill by hitting where it hurts. My husband and I have always stayed true to this and our fights don’t last long. Neither of us are left licking our wounds after its done.

  71. Candice summer Sep 09th 12:00 am

    I have learned over the years to find beauty in differentiation , not threat. Try to make it a point to Celebrate the different views and opinions of your partner. I believe that in doing that fallows authentic happiness because there is no pressure. We all have different ways, views and opinions! You can either spend time trying to pressure your partner to see things your way or you can celebrate the differentiation ….. It’s your choice!

  72. Sarah Sep 09th 2:47 am

    Encourage each other to dream. We often ask each other, “what do you want to do with your life?” We dream, support, and encourage ourselves to do better and be better.

    Another thing I thought of was service. the best marriage advice I was ever given was to serve your spouse. When I serve my husband I learn so much more about the sacrifices he makes for our family. It makes me appreciate and love him more each day. By serving him I learn so much more about him and i am more understanding.

    My last piece of advice is simple: makeout! Don’t forget what fun it is to be in love and be affectionate to your spouse.

    Those are my three little pieces of advice, at three in morning i had to write this from my phone because I can’t wait to read everyone else’s responses. And ya know, I can’t read them until I write my own response because that is just cheating.

  73. Danielle Worley Sep 09th 5:15 am

    Cover one another in prayer constantly! Encourage each others spiritual health. Also, allow your relationship to transcend turmoil. When rough patches occur, don’t give up on each other!

  74. Carly Johnston Sep 09th 9:40 am

    Assume the best! Not the worst. My husband always assumes I am saying or doing things out of love. He is the best!

  75. Taylor Nielsen Sep 10th 7:44 am

    I have been married for nearly 5 years and have learned many lessons with many more to come. Marriage is hard and needs constant attention. My three favorite lesson are as follows. 1. include the Lord. Everything is better when the Lord is involved. 2. don’t wait to communicate. staying on top of communicating is so important. When you don’t satan gets his foot in the door with pride, doubt, revenge, counting, paranoia, etc… all those nasty qualities and reactions that should not be in your marriage. 3. grow new muscles together. your in the trenches of life, trying to make it through and Helping each other become your best self. go to the emotional, physical, spiritual, social gym together. Your spouse should be your spotter and cheerleader, as you should for them.

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  78. Daniel Dec 06th 7:11 am

    11 years ago, after my wife and I were married I got this crazy notion to have flowers brought to her work space on the 11th of every month while I was deployed to parts of the world unknown. I returned from deployment in seven months. Now, it is precisely 11 years later and what joy it is to celebrate marriage with my wife of 11 years. This things that are planned like renewing covenant vows under a historical gazebo like the one we did for our second year anniversary. It is the little things that make the heart grow fonder. Thank you for this website.

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