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Who Does What Quiz

Look over the following list and record who you think should be responsible for each chore. If you think it is something a man should typically do, put an “M” in the self column, if you think it is something a woman should typically do, put a “W” down. If you think the task should be shared equally, use an “E”.

Then, ask your partner to do the same, using the partner column.




1. Makes breakfast ______ ______
2. Prepares dinner ______ ______
3. Plans meals ______ ______
4. Does grocery shopping ______ ______
5. Does laundry ______ ______
6. Does dishes and cleans up after meals ______ ______
7. Does major cleaning (bathroom, kitchen, floors, etc.) ______ ______
8. Does other cleaning (dusts, vacuums) ______ ______
9. Takes out the garbage ______ ______
10. Does ironing, sewing, mending ______ ______
11. Takes care of finances, bills, insurance ______ ______
12. Makes appointments ______ ______
13. Runs errands (post office, bank, gets household items) ______ ______
14. Gets child up, dressed and ready in the morning ______ ______
15. Arranges for babysitters and/or day care ______ ______
16. Takes child to appointments, lessons, practices ______ ______
17. Monitors child’s homework, activities, etc_ ______ ______
18. Bathes child and gets child ready for bed ______ ______
19. Arranges for and does car repairs and maintenance ______ ______
20. Arranges and does home repairs and maintenance ______ ______
21. Does lawn and yard work ______ ______

Now, compare your answers. Where do you agree and where do you differ? Why do you think the way you do? How were things done in your family? Much of what we think and feel comes from our view of gender roles.

Work Won’t Love You Back, by Stevan and Ivonne Hobfoll. Copyright 1994 by W. H. Freeman and Company. Quoted in Together Forever, Aid Association for Lutherans, Appleton, WI, 1997, pp. 110-111

Role Relationship Quiz

On separate sheets of paper, each rate the following statements based on your personal thoughts and feelings.

1 = Strongly disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Undecided
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly agree

1. Husbands should share in household duties equally.

2. Husbands should have the final say on important decisions.

3. Husbands should be willing to cook, clean and do the same household tasks as their wives.

4. Husbands should be the head of the family.

5. A husband’s occupation should be the first priority in determining where a couple will live.

6. Some of the tasks one does around the house should be based on one’s skills and interests.

7. If she wants, a wife should be able to keep her maiden name after marriage.

8. A husband should be as willing to adapt his lifestyle as his wife is.

9. If they want to work, wives should be encouraged and supported by their husbands.

10. When children are young, their mother should stay home and care for them.


Now, total your points for questions 1, 3, 6, 7, 8 & 9 ________
Then, subtract your total points for questions 2, 4, 5 & 10 ________
Total ________
Then, add 24 to that total ________

Now you have your score:

Your score ________ Your partner’s score________

Use the following chart to interpret your scores.

Interpretation of Scores:

Very Egalitarian 41-50
Generally Egalitarian 36-40
Transitional 31-35
Generally Traditional 21-30
Very Traditional 10-20

Compare your scores. What kind of marriage do each of you want? Read on to understand the three different types of marriages in more detail.

Together Forever, Aid Association for Lutherans, Appleton, WI, 1997, pp. 118-119

Myths on Parenting

  • Children will turn out well if they have “good” parents. Parents are a vital factor in a child’s development, but they are only one influence among many, including school, the media and a child’s peer group. The goal of parents is to teach strong values and reinforce positive behaviors in the hope that their children will use them in their own lives. But there are no guarantees. One of the most important things you, as parents, can do, is to insure that you have a strong marriage and are setting a good example for your children.
  • Children improve a marriage. Rearing children is a team effort. The bond between partners can intensify as a couple raises children together. But, children also tend to put enormous strain on an intimate relationship.
  • Couples without children are frustrated and unhappy. Most couples without children are very happy and content. However, many of them do have close relationships with children of extended family members or friends.
  • Having only one child is too few. Although many believe that only children are spoiled and selfish, that’s not necessarily true. Studies show that there can be advantages and disadvantages to this. One child is less expensive and demanding on parents, and typically receives more attention. However, parents may focus too much attention on the child or overprotect them, and only children may experience loneliness.
  • Children appreciate the sacrifices their parents make and the advantages they provide. Most parents want appreciation for the sacrifices they make for their kids. Unfortunately, children often take their parents for granted until they get on their own. Parents need to focus on the everyday pleasures and satisfactions of raising their children and appreciate the small thanks they get along the way.
  • Parenthood receives top priority in our society. Unfortunately, making money, not parenting, receives top priority in our society. Parents are pressured to put their jobs first in order to get promotions, and in some cases, just to remain employed.
  • Love is all it takes to be a good parent. Love helps parents put up with the many difficulties they encounter in child rearing, but success also requires hard work and sound parenting skills.
  • Parents alone should rear their young. Parents are ultimately responsible for raising their children. But, it’s helpful to have extended family and friends for support. Society has a stake in the outcome and will benefit from supporting parents through this challenging process.

Together Forever, Aid Association for Lutherans, Appleton, WI, 1997, pp. 166-167

How Critical are You of Your Spouse'

This exercise is meant to create awareness of how easily we can become critical of those we love the most. Keep track of the number of times you answer “Yes” to the following statements.

1. I feel critical toward my partner three times a week or more.

2. I feel critical toward my partner for how he or she looks.

3. I feel critical toward my partner for how he or she talks.

4. I feel critical toward my partner for how he or she relates to others.

5. I feel critical toward my partner for his or her values.

6. I feel critical toward my partner for his or her household habits.

7. I wish my partner were more like me.

8. I think my partner is capable of changing in the ways that I want.

9. I think my partner behaves in certain ways just to annoy me.

10. I find it hard to forgive my partner for not living up to all of my expectations.

11. I find it hard to accept the ways in which my partner is different from me.

12. My parents often criticized me when I was a child.

13. My partner often accuses me of being critical.

14. I wish I were more accepting of my partner.

15. One (or both) of my parents often criticized the other.

Reprinted by permission of Warner Books, Inc. of New York, New York, U.S.A. From The First Year of Marriage by Miriam Arond and Samuel L. Pauker, M.D. Copyright by Miriam Arond and Samuel Pauker. Quoted in Together Forever, Aid Association for Lutherans, Appleton, WI, 1997, p. 76

What Money Means to You

Rate each of the following statements:

1 = Strongly disagree
2 = Disagree
3 = Undecided
4 = Agree
5 = Strongly agree

1. It is important to me to maintain a lifestyle similar to or better than that of my peers.

2. In making a major purchase, an important consideration is what others will think of my choice.

3. Since money equals power, I am willing to work hard for money in order to have more power.

4. I really enjoy shopping and having nice things.

5. Saving money for a rainy day is an important principle to live by.

6. If I had a moderate amount of money to invest, I would be more likely to put it into multiple resources that are relatively safe than into one fairly risky source that has the potential to make a lot of money.

7. Being “flat broke” is one of the worst things that could happen to me.

8. Saving for retirement is an important financial goal for me.

9. If I suddenly came into a windfall of $1,000 for something I have always wanted to do or have.

10. Since “You can’t take it with you,” you might as well spend it.

11. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure helps.

12. Few things in life give me greater pleasure than making a great buy.

13. I like/would like having my own business because I can/could control my own financial destiny.

14. I like being able to make decisions about how to spend the money I earn.

15. It bothers me to be dependent on someone else for money.

16. I feel uncomfortable if someone offers to “pick up the tab” because I feel indebted to them.

Now, add your scores for the four questions in each category. The higher your score, the stronger you identify with that approach.

Category Questions Your Score Your Partner’s Score
Money as Status 1-4 __________ _________
Money as Security 5-8 __________ _________
Money as Enjoyment 9-12 __________ _________
Money as a Control over Life 13-16 __________ _________

Interpretation of Scores

4-8 = Low
9-12 = Moderate
13-16 = High
17-20 = Very High

Understanding what it means:

  • Money as status. People who identify with money as a status symbol are interested in money as power—as a means of keeping ahead of one’s peers.
  • Money as security. People who use money as a means of security spend conservatively and focus on saving.
  • Money as enjoyment. People who view money as a means to enjoyment get satisfaction from buying things for themselves and others.
  • Money as control. People who see money as a source of control, use it to maintain control of their lives, and to remain independent from their partner or other family members.

Now, compare your scores with each other. The closer your scores in each category are, the easier it will be to meet mutual financial goals and needs. The further apart they are, the more negotiating and compromising you’ll have to do.

Reprinted by permission of Warner Books, Inc. of New York, New York, U.S.A. From The First Year of Marriage by Miriam Arond and Samuel L. Pauker, M.D., Copyright by Miriam Arond and Samuel Pauker. Quoted in Together Forever, Aid Association for Lutherans, Appleton, WI, 1997, pp. 46-57

Characteristics for a Strong Marriage

Ranked by Husbands and Wives


Husbands Ranking

Wives Ranking

My spouse is my best friend.



I like my spouse as a person.



Marriage is a long-term commitment.



Marriage is sacred.



We agree on aims and goals.



My spouse has grown more interesting.



I want the relationship to succeed.



An endearing marriage is important to social stability.



We laugh together.



I am proud of my spouse’s achievements.



Adapted from Robert H. Lauer and Jeanette C. Lauer, Marriage and Family: The Quest for Intimacy, Copyright 1991, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., reprinted by special permission in Together Forever,Aid Association for Lutherans, Appleton, WI, 1997, p. 25

Top 10 Financial Stresses in Family Life


Percentage of families experiencing stress

Money for food, clothing and energy


Purchase of a car, or other major item


Taking out a loan


Children’s education


Problems with family income


Medical/dental expenses


Purchase or construction of a home


Bad investments


Overuse of credit cards


Starting a business


Together Forever, Aid Association for Lutherans, Appleton, WI, 1997, p. 51


  • 42% of newlyweds surveyed found marriage more difficult than they expected. from Together Forever, published by the Aid Association for Lutherans, 1997
  • 37% of all married couples say money is the number one problem in their marriage from Together Forever, published by the Aid Association for Lutherans, 1997
  • 5 most common sources of conflict for newlyweds: 1) Money, 2) Family issues, 3) Communication style, 4) Household tasks, 5) Personal tastes. from Together Forever, published by the Aid Association for Lutherans, 1997
  • 46% of newlyweds said they were not satisfied with the frequency of sex in their marriage. from Together Forever, published by the Aid Association for Lutherans, 1997

Sources unknown

The Marriage-Go-Round

Hollywood actors and actresses don’t always set the best example when it comes to lifetime marriages. Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, and Lana Turner each married eight times; Rex Harrison and Gloria Swanson, six times; and Richard Burton, Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, and Rita Hayworth, five times.

For better or for worse—but not for long!

Prokope, Vol. No. 3, July-September, 1997


An English professor wrote the words “Woman without her man is a savage” on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.

The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is a savage.”

The women wrote: “Woman! Without her, man is a savage.”

Bits & Pieces, March 2, 1995, p. 2

Three Marriages

Marriage One Marriage Two Marriage Three
Oneness “We are we” Twoness “I am I and you are you” Threeness “I am I and you are you
and we are we”
Fusion of two melding into one (but which one?) Separation of two struggling for identity—
I will be I, you may be you
Reunion of two with separate selves and shared covenant.
Romantic illusions—We are the Dream. (Your dream? or mine?) Loss of illusions—Where have the flowers gone? (Who am I, who are you?) Reality of intimacy—I can love you as you. (Why did it take so long to find each other?)

David Augsberger, When Enough is Enough, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1984), p. 80

50 Years of Marriage

Years One to Seven Years Eight to Fifteen Years Fifteen to Fifty
Complementary relationships: Symmetrical Relationships: Parallel Relationships:
Two dependent persons struggling for equal freedom and acting independent while covenanting. Two equally mature persons each claiming freedom to be a whole self
Conflict is suppressed. Conflict is cyclical. Conflict is negotiated.

David Augsberger, When Enough is Enough, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1984), p. 80

What Are Men Thinking'

Dave Barry says: “Think how much happier women would be if, instead of endlessly fretting about what the males in their lives are thinking, they could relax, secure in the knowledge that the correct answer is: very little.”

The Complete Guide to Guys, (Random House), quoted in Reader’s Digest, p. 28

Reverse Reasoning

Many couples are united in wedlock in a rosy fog of optimism. Blinded to the shortcomings, each sees only the other’s good points. But as the excitement of the new marriage wears off, they drift to the opposite extreme and view these same traits as faults. Someone has called this “reverse reasoning,” giving the following examples:

She married him because he was ‘strong and masculine’
she divorced him because he was a very ‘dominating male.’

He married her because she was so ‘fragile and petite’
He divorced her because she was so ‘weak and helpless.’

She chose him because ‘he knew how to provide a good living’
She left him because ‘all he thought about was the business.’

He married her because she was ‘steady and sensible’
He divorced her because she was ‘boring and dull.’

- H.G.B.

Our Daily Bread, June 3

Mother or Smother'

The speaker at our women’s club was lecturing on marriage and asked the audience how many of us wanted to “mother” our husbands. One member in the back row raised her hand.

“You do want to ‘mother’ your husband?” the speaker asked.

“Mother?” the woman echoed. “I thought you said ‘smother.’

Contributed by Nancy P. Blinn, Reader’s Digest, October, 1993, p. 92

Monogamous Marriages

A new study from the University of Chicago lends credence to what the Bible has taught for two millennia: monogamous marriage yields the most satisfying romance to be had. Contrary to what network scriptwriters might have us believe, the survey found that married spouses have sex more often and enjoy it more than singles.

Other important findings:

  • 88 percent of married couples report having emotionally satisfying sex lives
  • 94 percent of married couples were faithful sexually in the past year

New Man, January/February, 1995, p. 12

Needs Are Different

Dr. Willard Harley, a Massachusetts psychologist, surveyed the basic needs of men and women in marriage and found (this is amazing) that the needs are completely different. According to Dr. Harley’s survey,

The top five basic needs of the female in marriage are:

1. Affection

2. Communication

3. Openness/Honesty

4. Financial Support

5. Family Commitment

The male’s top five basic needs are:

1. Sexual Fulfillment

2. Recreational Companionship

3. An Attractive Wife

4. Domestic Support

5. Admiration

Looking at both lists, it becomes obvious that if we give our spouses what we need, hoping to receive the same in return, we will miss the mark every time. Therefore, instead of giving what we need, we must affair-proof our marriages by striving to give what our partners need.

From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 1994), pp. 120-121.

Why Many Affairs Take Place

Dr. Tom McGuiness, a counseling psychologist in New Jersey, gives this explanation of why many affairs take place:

Married people seek out or succumb to affairs when they feel devalued or less than fully alive. They are bored. Overburdened. People who have affairs have a child’s deep longing to be touched, caressed, held, hugged and kissed, whether they admit it or not. They want happy surprises. That might mean a sentimental unexpected gift every once in a while. More important, it is the dependable gift of time and caring. The present of shared ideas, experiences, stories, nonsense and games, including sexual games. They want the world to butt out. They want a loving friend, a pal who isn’t judgmental. They want someone to convince them they’re still loved, lovable and very special. For a little while, now and then, they want out from under the grown-up responsibilities that have become predictable, dreary and difficult.

If these are the reasons extra-marital affairs occur, couldn’t we guard against them by seeking to meet our mates’ deepest needs for affection, security, friendship, and sexual fulfillment? Maybe the best prevention for an affair outside marriage is to plan one with the man or woman we’re married to!

From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings, by Ed Young (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 1994), pp. 122-123.

Take Up Golf

She: “How’d your doctor appointment go?”

He: “Well, there’s good news and bad news. My blood pressure’s high and I’m overweight. But, at the doctor’s suggestion, I’m going to take up golf!”

She: “And the good news?”

Greg Evans, North America Syndicate, Readers Digest, May 1996, p. 68.

Marriage License: A Learner’s Permit

“It’s a wise groom who has to be dragged to the altar. He knows what love is. It’s death. If lovers don’t know this, they are headed for trouble. Never will you have your way again. You can’t be happy if this other person isn’t. No matter who wins the argument, you lose. Always. The sooner you learn this the better off you will be.

Love is an exercise in frustration. You leave the window up when you want it down. You watch someone else’s favorite TV program. You kiss when you have a headache. You turn the music down when you like it loud. You learn to be patient without sighing or sulking.

Love’s doing things for the other person. In marriage two become one but the one isn’t you. It’s the other person. You love this person more than you love yourself. This means that you love this person as she or he is. Acceptance. We ask ourselves frankly what that impulse is that makes us want to redesign a person. It isn’t love. We want the other person to be normal like us. But is that loving the other person or ourselves? Love brings out the best in people. They can be themselves without artificiality. People who know they are loved glow with beauty and charm.

Let this person talk. Create the assurance that any idea, any suggestion, any feeling can be expressed and will be respected. Allow the other person to star once in a while. A wife’s joke doesn’t have to be topped. Don’t interrupt your husband in the middle of his story. Cultivate kind ways of speaking. It can be as simple as asking them instead of telling them to do things. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Married life is full of crazy mirrors to see ourselves. How stubborn, how immature we really are. You may be waiting for your wife to finish because you never lift a finger to help her.

Love is funny. Its growth doesn’t depend on what someone does for you. It’s in direct property to what you do for him or her.

The country is swarming with people who have never learned this. So are divorce courts.

Men are from Mars...”, Part 3 - Ephesians 5:23,24,” Countdown! Golden Minutes Ministries Newsletter, (Long Beach, CA, October 1996)

Cohabitating Couples

  • Percentage of previously cohabiting married couples who divorce within 10 years: (38%).
  • Percentage of married couples previously living separately who divorce within 10 years: (27%).

APA Monitor, cited in Psychology Today (Nov-Dec/95), quoted in Preaching Resources, Spring 1996, p. 73.

It is easier in these United States to walk away from a marriage than from a commitment to purchase a used car. Most contracts cannot be unilaterally abrogated; marriages in contemporary America can be terminated by practically anyone at any time, and without cause.

Time, Sept. 1993, quote from a professor at George Washington University School of Law

Divorce Statistics

Sixty percent of American children born today will see their parents divorced by the time they are 18. Of those children who have suffered this pain of divorce, half of them will see a second divorce before they are 18.

Syndicated columnist Michael McManus, Baptist Press release, March, 1995

Guest of Bride or Groom'

My neighbor’s son, Robert, seemed young to be an usher at a wedding, but he was quickly coached in wedding protocol. A veteran usher instructed Robert to ask the person he was escorting, “Are you a guest of the bride or groom?” to know where to seat them.

Imagine our surprise when we heard Robert ask, as he graciously offered his arm to the first arrival, “Madam, whose side are you on?”

Richard Blake, San Luis Obispo, California

Through the Eyes of Love

Hands—beautiful, symmetrical hands
Long tapered fingers
Tanned skin from outdoor living
Useful beyond belief
My wife’s hands.

Knotted—arthritic hands
Misshapen from age and disease
Not very nimble now
But still useful beyond belief.
I know what others see
Hands as they are today
But I see beautiful, symmetrical hands.
My wife’s hands.

And a face, beautiful sparkling brown eyes
Full red luscious lips
Skin like warm ivory
A blush of dawn in her cheek
Lovely beyond belief.

Aged wrinkled skin
A brown age spot here and there
Eyes grown dim with time
Lips pale and thinner now
I know what others see
A face as it is today
But I see a face
Lovely beyond belief.
My wife’s face.

Source unknown

Understanding Each Other

A man is a person who, if a woman says, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself,” lets her.

A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her, gets mad.

A man is a person who, if a woman says to him, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her and she gets mad, says, “Now what are you mad about'

A woman is a person who, if she says to a man, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself,” and he lets her, and she gets mad, and he says, “Now what are you mad about?” says, “If you don’t know I’m not going to tell you.”

Source unknown

Communication Problem

A woman went to a lawyer and said she wanted a divorce. The lawyer got out his note pad, and proceeded to ask her some questions.

“Do you have any grounds?” he inquired.

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “About three-quarters of an acre.”

The lawyer paused for a moment, then queried, “Do you have a grudge?”

“No,” the woman answered quickly. “But we do have a lovely carport.”

Again the lawyer paused and then asked, “Does he beat you up?”

“No. I get up before he does every morning,” the woman reported.

Finally the lawyer blurted, “Lady, why do you want to divorce your husband?”

“It’s because,” she explained, “that man can’t carry on an intelligent conversation.”

Brent Barlow in Salt Lake City Deseret News

Whistle To Warn Him

Jones was sitting with his wife behind a palm on a hotel veranda late one night when a young man and girl came and sat down on a bench near them. Hidden behind the palm, Mrs. Jones whispered to her husband, “Oh, John, he doesn’t know we’re here and he’s going to propose to her. Whistle to warn him.”

“What for?” said Jones, “Nobody whistled to warn me.”

Source unknown

Way’s To Say I Love You

Looking for a gift or just a unique way to say “I love you?” What do you give when his dresser is full of cologne and are 21 great inexpensive ways to tell the love of your life just how much you care.

1. Make a homemade card with a picture of the two of you on the cover. Get ideas for a verse by spending a few minutes browsing through a card shop.

2. Write a poem. It doesn’t have to rhyme.

3. Send a love letter listing the reasons “Why I love you so much.”

4. Pledge your love for a lifetime. Write it in calligraphy or design it on a desktop computer and print it out on parchment paper and have it framed.

5. Plan a surprise lunch, complete with picnic basket, sparkling grape juice and goblets.

6. Bake a giant cookie and write “I love you” with heart shaped redhots or frosting. (Don’t worry about the calories, it’s not for eating!)

7. Make a coupon book and include coupons for a back rub, a compromise when about to lose an argument, a listening ear when needed, and doing the dishes when the other cooks.

8. Kidnap the car for a thorough washing and detailing.

9. Design your personal crest combining symbols that are meaningful to both of you.

10. Compose a love song.

11. Arrange for someone to sing a favorite love song to you and your love when you’re together.

12. Call a radio station and have them announce a love message from you and make sure your love is listening at the right time.

13. Make a big sign such as: “I Love You, Kristi. Love, Joe,” and put it in front of your house or her apartment complex for the world to see.

14. Buy favorite fruits that aren’t in season, like a basket of strawberries or blueberries.

15. Hide little love notes in the car, a coat pocket, or desk.

16. Place a love message in the “personal” section of the classified ads in your local paper.

17. Florist flowers aren’t the only way to say “I love you.” Pluck a single flower and write a message about how its beauty reminds you of your love. For greater impact, have it delivered at work.

18. Prepare a surprise candle light gourmet low-calorie dinner for two.

19. Write the story of the growth of your relationship from your perspective, sharing your emotions and your joys. What a treasure!

20. Make a paperweight from a smooth stone, paint it, and write a special love message on it.

21. Promise to change a habit that your love has been wanting you to change.

Family Matters

Fidelity of Spouses

Sensationalistic sex surveys suffered further damage with the release of new research on the fidelity of American spouses. According to a new study by Tom W. Smith of the National Opinion Research Center, roughly 15 percent of married or previously married Americans have committed adultery.

The results largely agree with the 1987 ABC News/Washington Post poll that found 89 percent of spouses faithful. Pop culture gurus Kinsey (37 percent of men), Joyce Brothers (50 percent ofwomen), and Shire Hite (75 percent of women married 5 years) have stoked reports of rampant infidelity.

Family Research Council, Washington Watch, October 29, 1993, p. 2

Freedom Rings

Divorced couples in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can take advantage of a new business in town. The company is called Freedom Rings: Jewelry for the Divorced. Founded by jeweler and divorcee Lynn Peters, the company makes custom jewelry out of wedding rings. Each customer at Freedom Rings pays a fee, and the ring-smashing ceremony begins—complete with champagne and music. Just before the smashing the M.C. says, “We will now release any remaining ties to your past by transforming your ring—which represents the past—into a token of your new beginning. Now take the hammer. Stop for a moment to consider the transformation that is about to begin your new life. Ready? With this swing let freedom ring!”

She then uses a four-pound sledgehammer to whack her emblem of love and fidelity into a shapeless piece of metal. And the ceremony ends. The fact that women are pounding their wedding rings into pendants and men are grinding theirs into golf ball markers doesn’t surprise me. We’ve all heard the divorce statistics. But let’s focus on the women for a moment: How many American women stop short of divorce, but would love to make a clean break from their marriage if it were convenient? How many Christian women feel the same way?

Brian Peterson, New Man, October, 1994, p. 8

Hostile Put-Downs

In order to uncover the processes that destroy unions, marital researchers study couples over the course of years, and even decades, and retrace the star-crossed steps of those who have split up back to their wedding day. What they are discovering is unsettling. None of the factors one would guess might predict a couple’s durability actually does: not how in love a newlywed couple say they are; how much affection they exchange; how much they fight or what they fight about. In fact, couples who will endure and those who won’t look remarkably similar in the early days.

Yet when psychologists Cliff Notarius of Catholic University and Howard Markman of the University of Denver studied newlyweds over the first decade of marriage, they found a very subtle but telling difference at the beginning of the relationships. Among couples who would ultimately stay together, 5 out of every 100 comments made about each other were put-downs. Among couples who would later split, 10 of every 100 comments were insults. That gap magnified over the following decade, until couples heading downhill were flinging five times as many cruel and invalidating comments at each other as happy couples.

“Hostile put-downs act as cancerous cells that, if unchecked, erode the relationship over time,” says Notarius, who with Markman co-authored the new book We Can Work It Out. “In the end, relentless unremitting negativity takes control and the couple can’t get through a week without major blowups.”

U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 1994, p. 67

Steady Diet of Put-Downs

Do you and your spouse feed each other a steady diet of put-downs? If you do, your marriage could be headed for divorce court.

When psychologists Cliff Nortarius and Howard Markman studied newlyweds over the first decade of marriage, they discovered that couples who stayed together uttered 5 or fewer put-downs in every 100 comments to each other. But couples who inflicted twice as many verbal wounds—10 or more putdowns out of every 100 comments—later split up.

Watch what you say! Little, nit-picking comments are like a cancer in marriage, slowly draining the life out of a committed relationship.

Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family Bulletin, May, 1994

When Wrong Admit It

To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it
Whenever you’re right, shut up!

- Ogden Nash

Source unknown

First Big Fight

We were visiting friends when they received a telephone call from their recently married daughter. After several tense minutes on the phone, the mother told the father to pick up the extension. The newlyweds had had their first big fight.

In a few moments, the father rejoined us and tersely explained, “Said she wanted to come home.”

“What did you tell her?” I asked.

“Told her she was home.”

Larry Cunningham (Billings, Montana), quoted in Reader’s Digest

This Has Been A Terrible Day

A man at work decided to show his wife how much he loved her, and before going home, showered, shaved, put on some choice cologne, bought her a bouquet of flowers. He went to the front door and knocked.

His wife answered the door and exclaimed, “Oh no! This has been a terrible day! First I had to take Billy to the emergency room and get stitches in his leg, then your mother called and said she’s coming for two weeks, then the washing machine broke, and now this! You come home drunk!”

Source unknown

A Wall Or Bridge

They say a wife and husband, bit by bit,
Can rear between themselves a mighty wall,
So thick they cannot speak with ease through it,
Nor can they see across it, it stands so tall.

Its nearness frightens them, but each alone
Is powerless to tear its bulk away;
and each Dejected wishes he had known
For such a wall, some magic thing to say.

So let us build with master art, my dear,
A bridge of love between your life and mine,
A bridge of tenderness, and very near,
A bridge of understanding, strong and fine.

Till we have formed so many lovely ties,
There never will be room for walls to rise.

Source unknown

Helpful Hints

Some helpful hints for a husband who wants to see his spouse experience God’s best are posted in Daddy’s Home, by Greg Johnson and Mike Yorkey.

1. A husband can

2. Back off (give her some space).

3. Be patient (don’t rush things).

4. Love her as you love your own body (that’s going to take some work).

5. Affirm her role in the family (whether she stays home or works outside the home, she’s got the most important job in the world).

6. Pray for her as you’ve never prayed before (because God hears our prayers).

7. Lower your expectations (you’re not going to see fireworks every night).

8. Do the little things (without expecting anything in return).

9. Show her she’s the most cherished woman on earth (she’ll probably faint the first time you do this).

10. Above all, persevere (you’re in this for the long haul).

11. A wise husband builds his mate’s self-esteem, realizing that the subtle words and actions of a sinful world constantly assault her sense of self-worth. He remains sensitive to her needs and is always ready to offer his support.

12. Encourage your wife verbally and demonstratively. Words of cheer and praise are high octane fuel that boost your wife’s emotional fuel tanks.

In Touch, June 18, 1993

Second Husband

Joseph H. Choate was a thorough gentleman as well as a distinguished lawyer in this country some years back. He had a quick wit which made him good copy for journalists.

Someone once asked him, “Mr. Choate, if you were not yourself, who would you most like to be?”

Without a second’s hesitation Choate replied, “Mrs. Choate’s second husband.”

Bits & Pieces, May 27, 1993, p. 23


  • Truth in marriage, The Prodigal Spouse, Dr. Les Carter, Nelson, 1990, pp.196ff
  • Ten principles for a healthy marriage, The Prodigal Spouse, Dr. Les Carter, Nelson, 1990, pp.235ff
  • Cultural Aspects of marriage in the ancient world, Bibliotheca Sacra, 135:539:241
  • The Moral Catastrophe, David Hocking, Harvest House, 1990, pp. 64ff
  • Sketches of Jewish Social Life, A. Edersheim, Eerdmans, p. 139.

Own Free Will

We accompanied our son and his fiancee’ when they met with her priest to sign some pre-wedding ceremony papers. While filling out the form, our son read aloud a few questions. When he got to the last one, which read: “Are you entering this marriage at your own will?” he looked over at his fiancee. “Put down ‘Yes,’” she said.

Lilyan van Almelo, in 5-93 Reader’s Digest, p. 138

What NOT to Buy Your Wife

Although the only person a man usually shops for is his wife, the whole experience is a stressful one. Many a man has felt extreme frigid temperatures for a long period based on a poor present decision. As a veteran of these wars, I’m still not sure what to buy my wife, but I’ll pass on what not to buy her:

1. Don’t buy anything that plugs in. Anything that requires electricity is seen as utilitarian.

2. Don’t buy clothing that involves sizes. The chances are one in seven thousand that you will et her size right, and your wife will be offended the other 6999 times. “Do I look like a size 16?” she’ll say. Too small a size doesn’t cut it either: “I haven’t worn a size 8 in 20 years!”

3. Avoid all things useful. The new silver polish advertised to save hundreds of hours is not going to win you any brownie points.

4. Don’t buy anything that involves weight loss or self-improvement. She’ll perceive a six-month membership to a diet center as a suggestion that’s she’s overweight.

5. Don’t buy jewelry. The jewelry your wife wants, you can’t afford. And the jewelry you can afford, she doesn’t want.

6. And, guys, do not fall into the traditional trap of buying her frilly underwear. Your idea of the kind your wife should wear and what she actually wears are light years apart.

7. Finally, don’t spend too much. “How do you think we’re going to afford that?” she’ll ask. But don’t spend too little. She won’t say anything, but she’ll think, “Is that all I’m worth?”

Herb Forst in Cross River, NY, Patent Trader, in Reader’s Digest, p. 69

Tombstone Inscription

Sacred to the memory of Elisha Philbrook and his wife Saran.

Beneath these stones do lie,
Back to back, my wife and I!
When the last trumpet the air shall fill
If she gets up, I’ll just lie still.

Sargentville, Maine, from The Last Word, 1979, quoted in Oct, 1980, Reader’s Digest

Majority of Men are Faithful

A large majority of men—married and single—say they wouldn’t have an affair, even if they were certain their loved one would never find out, says a Gallup poll commissioned by Self magazine, in the June (1992) issue. Of 500 men surveyed, 67% of married men and 60% of unmarried men say an affair is absolutely out of the question. Only 5% of married men and 11% of unmarried men would do it (the rest said maybe). Also, 95% of married men say they wouldn’t drop their partner for a trophy wife if they became extremely successful or wealthy.

U.S.A. Today, May 26, 1992, p. D1

John Wesley

While crossing a bridge in London, John Wesley stumbled and sprained his ankle. Some friends carried him to the house of Mrs. Mary Vazielle on Threadneedle Street. She was a widow with several children. She cared for Wesley and his response to her concern was to ask her to marry him. If we were writing fiction we might say that the sprained ankle was God’s providential way to bring those people together.

But the marriage was a disaster, and Mary finally left John. Had Wesley consulted with his brother Charles, and asked for the prayers of the brethren, he might have avoided that unfortunate situation. Mary was accustomed to her quiet home, and it was difficult for her to travel with her husband and stay in uncomfortable inns. It is unfortunate that Mary was not content just to ignore John’s ministry; she actually opposed it. She gave certain personal letters to his enemies and even made additions to them that made them worse! Once she even pulled her husband around on the floor by his hair! “I felt as though I could have knocked the soul out of her!” one of Wesley’s friends said.

Wesley concluded that his unhappy marriage encouraged him to work harder and not complain about missing the comforts of a home. Certainly it encouraged him to be away from home more!

Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, W. Wiersbe, Moody Press, 1984, p. 246

No Man Can Serve Two Masters

Once when Mark Twain was lecturing in Utah, a Mormon acquaintance argued with him on the subject of polygamy. After a long and rather heated debate, the Mormon finally said, “Can you find for me a single passage of Scripture which forbids polygamy?” “Certainly,” replied Twain. “‘No man can serve two masters.’”

Louis Utermeyer, A Treasury of Laughter (Simon & Schuster)

Never Listed His Faults

On her golden wedding anniversary, my grandmother revealed the secret of her long and happy marriage. “On my wedding day, I decided to choose ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook,” she explained. A guest asked her to name some of the faults. “To tell the truth,” she replied, “I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of the ten.’”

Roderick McFarlane, in December, 1992, Reader’s Digest

You Look Pretty Good Too

Soon after our last child left home for college, my husband was resting next to me on the couch with his head in my lap. I carefully removed his glasses. “You know, honey,” I said sweetly, “without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married.”

“Honey,” he replied with a grin, “without my glasses, you still look pretty good too!”

Valerie L. Runyan, in December, 1992, Reader’s Digest

What’s Wrong'

In January 1992, at 1 a.m., one very tired mom heard a cough. I bolted from my sleep to a standing/running position and in one leap made it to the bathroom and flipped on the light to find my 6-year-old daughter sitting on the edge of the tub. The stuff from her tummy was all over the floor, the lid of the toilet, and herself. I proceeded to clean the floor and surrounding areas, then placed Sarah into the tub to wash down. As I turned on the shower, Sarah said, “Mom,” with a wrinkled nose and a hesitant voice, “I threw up on Collett too.” Collett is her 9-year-old sister, who happens to share the bed. I closed the curtain and ran to see. I met Collett in the hallway, and she said Sarah had thrown up on her. I turned on the bedroom light and much to my amazement, there was the dreaded sight of Sarah’s dinner on five blankets, two pillows, two sheets, a baby blanket, and Collett’s pajamas. I bundled it all up into the bottom sheet and placed it at the back door. I put fresh bedding on the bed and placed a bucket beside Sarah, then I crawled back in my own bed. At which time, my well-covered, half-asleep husband inquired, “What’s wrong?”

Focus on the Family, Newsletter

Harry S. Truman

A few years ago, the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, MO, made public 1,300 recently discovered letters that the late President wrote to his wife, Bess, over the course of a half-century. Mr. Truman had a lifelong rule of writing to his wife every day they were apart. He followed this rule whenever he was away on official business or whenever Bess left Washington to visit her beloved Independence.

Scholars are examining the letters for any new light they may throw on political and diplomatic history. For our part, we were most impressed by the simple fact that every day he was away, the President of the United States took time out from his dealing with the world’s most powerful leaders to sit down and write a letter to his wife.

Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp. 15-16.

Henry Ford

More and more people seem to forget Henry Ford’s sage advice when asked on his 50th wedding anniversary for his rule for marital bliss and longevity. He replied, “Just the same as in the automobile business, stick to one model.”

Christian Clippings, p. 27

Sexuality and Fidelity

(Andrew) Greeley bases most of his unconventional conclusions on the results of the Love and Marriage Gallup study of 657 married couples, which was conducted in 1989-90 for Psychology Today. According to Greeley, this was the first “full-scale” national probability study of sexuality and fidelity in marriage. Many of the findings defy conventional wisdom and indicate that marriage in America is far healthier than we have been led to believe:

  • Ninety percent of American couples have had only one sexual partner since they were married (and it is not because they are afraid of AIDS).
  • Four-fifths say they would marry the same person if they had to do it over again.
  • Over 80 percent of all married men, regardless of age, say their wife is good-looking.
  • Three-quarters of married people say their spouse is their best friend.
  • Three-quarters of those questioned say divorce is “not at all likely.”
  • Over 60 percent of American couples describe their marriage as “very happy.”
  • The best predictor of whether or not a couple is happy together is joint prayer. The study found, for example, that couples from two-income families that pray together are less likely to consider divorce than single-income families that do not pray together.
  • People who live together before marriage are less likely than those who did not cohabit to say their marriage is very happy. Those who have had premarital sex are also less prone to say their marriage is very happy.

Christianity Today, March 9, 1992, pp. 42-43

Physical Abuse in Marriage

A recent survey on marital violence reports that approximately one in every seven American couples has used some form of physical abuse during an argument in the past year.

National Institute of Mental Health, Family Happiness is Homemade, Vol. 14, No. 6, June 1990

Fault Box

A couple married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a “Fault” box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: “leaving the jelly top off the jar,” “wet towels on the shower floor,” “dirty socks not in hamper,” on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, “I love you!”

Source unknown

Brahman Marriage Custom

The Brahmans of southern India have traditionally prohibited a younger brother from marrying before an elder brother. So when a suitable bride can’t be found for the senior sibling, he may be ceremonially married to a tree, leaving the younger brother free to take a wife. Sometimes the two marriages take place at the same time in the hopes that any bad luck that might befall the happy human newlyweds would be diverted to the tree

Source unknown

Strange Marriage Custon

An average of 13,500 Americans get married every day. Instead of exchanging rings with the groom, in old Anglo-Saxon wedding ceremonies the bride passed her shoes to her groom, who then tapped her on the head with one of them.

Source unknown


  • Every day, 175 Americans aged 65 and older get married (eight of them for the first time.)
  • The most married person in history was probably King Mongut of Siam, the monarch in “The King and I.” He had 9,000 wives and concubines.
  • The following 11 people never married: James Addams; Susan B. Anthony; Ludwig van Beethoven; President James Buchanan; Frederic Chopin; Emily Dickinson; J. Edgar Hoover; Joan of Arc; Isaac Newton; Florence Nightingale; Henry David Thoreau.
  • Working couples spend only about 12 minutes a day talking with each other. About 36 minutes a day is spent together in cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, and demonstrating affection. - American Demographics, reported in December, 1988, Homemade
  • In ancient Greece, the wedding cake of choice was almost always cheesecake doused with honey.
  • The custom in ancient Rome was to break the wedding cake over the head of the bride. And only those children of women who abided by this custom were legally eligible to hold high government office.
  • Fewer Americans are married in January than in any other month. - Partnership, January/February, 1988, pp. 28-29

Sources unknown

Strange Laws

An old Kentucky law states that a wife can’t move the furniture in the house without her husband’s permission.

But then a man in Kentucky has restrictions too: he can’t legally marry his wife’s grandmother.

A kiss can last no longer than one second, according to an ordinance in Halethorpe, Maryland.

New Hampshire has the youngest legal marriage age: 13 for females, and 14 for males.

Source unknown

He Thinks I’m Crazy

One of “Dear Abby’s” most unusual letters came from one wife who evidently didn’t understand her husband. The letter said, “My husband burns the hair out of his nose with a lighted match. And he thinks I’m crazy because I voted for Goldwater.”

Source unknown

Strange Custom

An Austrian anthropologist maned Weizl who lived for a time among the natives of northern Siberia was frequently accosted by giggling young maidens who showed up at his door and pelted him with freshly killed lice.

Eventually Weizl learned that among northern Siberians, lice-throwing was a customary manner for woman to declare her interest in a man and indicate that she was available for marriage.

Source unknown

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

Evidently politics does make strange bedfellows. Anne Landers claims that one of her most unusual problems from readers concerned a man who hid his wife’s dentures so she couldn’t go out and vote for a Democrat.

Source unknown

My Wife Told Me

There were two lines of husbands in heaven, one for the dominant husbands and one for the passive, submissive husbands. The submissive husband line extended almost out of sight. There was one man in the dominant husband line. He was small, timid, appeared anything but a dominant husband.

When the angel inquired as to why he was in this line, he said, “My wife told me to stand here.”

Source unknown

Good Trade

One said: “I got this poodle for my wife.”

The other man said: “Sure wish I could trade mine in for something like that.”

Source unknown

A Prayer for a Married Couple

O God, our Heavenly Father, protect and bless us. Deepen and strengthen our love for each other day by day. Grant that by Thy mercy neither of us ever say one unkind word to the other.

Forgive and correct our faults, and make us constantly to forgive one another should one of us unconsciously hurt the other. Make us and keep us sound and well in body, alert in mind, tender in heart, devout in spirit. O Lord, grant us each to rise to the other’s best. Then we pray Thee add to our common life such virtues as only Thou canst give. And so, O Father, consecrate our life and our love completely to Thy worship, and to the service of all about us, especially those whom Thou has appointed us to serve, that we may always stand before Thee in happiness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This beautiful prayer was written by Bishop Slattery, soon after his marriage, to be used each day in their family devotions at home in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bishop Slattery

Why Did You Die'

A man was crying over a gravestone saying, “Why did you die? Why did you die?”

Another man questioned him, “Did your mother just die?”


“Your father?”

“No.” He continues, “O, why did you die?”

“Well, who died?”

“This was my wife’s first husband.”

Source unknown

Goodbye Kiss

If you want to be happy, healthy, successful, and livelonger, give your spouse a kiss before you go to work each day. That’s the conclusion of a study conducted by a group of German physicians and psychologists, in cooperation with insurance companies.

According to Dr. Arthur Sazbo, the study found that those who kiss their spouse each morning miss less work because of illness than those who do not. They also have fewer auto accidents on the way to work. They earn 20 to 30 percent more monthly and they live about five years more than those who don’t even give each other a peck on the cheek. The reason for this, says Dr. Sazbo, is that the kissers begin the day with a positive attitude. A kiss signifies a sort of seal of approval in the eyes of Dr. Sazbo and his colleagues and, they believe, those who don’t experience it, for whatever reason, go out the door feeling not quite right about themselves.

Whether you give this study any credence or not, an au revoir kiss every morning can do you no harm. Maybe you can expand the study and write a book, Pucker Up to Grow Rich, Feel Good, and Live Longer. It could be a best-seller.

Bits & Pieces July 25, 1992 pp. 4-5

Changing Your Name

There it was in the society pages of none other than the venerable New York Times, arbiter of social propriety. On May 7, Michael Flaherty, a city planner, wed Valerie Silverman, a medical student, and husband and wife combined their names to produce “Flaherman.” Even the editor of the Times society page could not recall seeing such a postmodern hybrid before. (Hey, Arnold and Maria! Have you ever considered “Schwarzenshriver”?)

Why did they do it? “We wanted to share a name without being sexist or hyphenating two names,” says Michael. The couple, who just a few months ago rejected “Silverty,” say that their children will not be “Flaherbabies,” but Flahermans. And, they say, they never even considered going ultra-politically correct with “Flaherperson.”

U.S. News & World Report June 1, 1992, p. 14.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain was known for his wit. A Mormon acquaintance once pushed him into an argument on the issue of polygamy. After long and tedious expositions justifying the practice, the Mormon demanded that Twain cite any passage of Scripture expressly forbidding polygamy.

“Nothing easier,” Twain replied. “No man can serve two masters.”

Source unknown

Unholy Alliances

The history of the various kings of Judah and Israel, as recorded in 2 Chronicles, does not gloss over the ugly facts. True, Asa “did that which was the eyes of the Lord,” Jehoshaphat “departed not from it, doing that which was right,” and Joash, Uzziah, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others reigned uprightly. Yet, the shameful deeds of the wicked rulers are also openly chronicled. We are told, for instance, that “when Rehoboam had established the kingdom...he forsook the law of the Lord,” and that “Ahaziah...also walked in the ways of the house of do wickedly.”

Other examples could be cited, but let’s stop for a moment at Jehoram because of the explanation given for his evil behavior. We read that “he did the house of Ahab; for he had the daughter of Ahab as his wife, and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Chron. 21:6). Jehoram’s reign was a failure, and he died “without being desired” (v. 20) because of one mistake: he married a worldly woman—Ahab’s daughter. The Bible tells us that “there was none like unto Ahab, who did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel, his wife, stirred up” (1 Kings 21:25).

Unholy alliances always lead to compromise and spiritual disaster. Paul wrote, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14), and in verse 17 he added, “ ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” Yes, separation unto God calls for separation from the world!

Our Daily Bread, July 12

The Ideal Peacemaker

In his classic work on the Beatitudes titled The Heavenly Octave, F. W. Boreham included this passage:

“The ideal peacemaker is the man who prevents the peace from being broken. To prevent a battle is the best way of winning a battle. I once said to a Jewish rabbi, ‘I have heard that at a Jewish wedding a glass is broken as part of the symbolism of the ceremony. ‘Is that a fact?’ ‘Of course it is,’ he replied. ‘We hold aloft a glass, let it fall and be shattered to atoms, and then, pointing to its fragments, we exhort the young people to guard jealously the sacred relationship into which they have entered since, once it is fractured, it can never be restored.’”

Our Daily Bread, July 28

Finding Right Stamp

A woman came into the post office where I work and asked to see a selection of 15-cent stamps. She wanted to choose a stamp design and theme appropriate for the wedding invitations she was mailing. After careful consideration, she happily announced she’d found exactly the right one: the John Paul Jones commemorative stamp that bears his rallying cry, “I have not yet begun to fight.”

Contributed by Thomas T. Brayton, Reader’s Digest, March 1980

Marriage Teaches You…

Marriage teaches you loyalty, forbearance, self-restraint and a lot of other qualities you wouldn’t need if you’d stayed single.

Source unknown

Marriage Myth

The amount of time you spend with your spouse is less important than the quality. In a recent survey, more than 90% of the couples who considered their marriages strong and close also said they spend a great deal of time together. Conversely, divorced couples usually had spent little time together before the split.

Dr. Nick Stinnett, Homemade, June, 1986

Americans Prefer Marriage

A newly-released poll says 94% of Americans prefer marriage as a way of life over living with someone out of wedlock. The poll, conducted by the Roper Organization in 1970 for the 1980 Virginia Slims American Women’s Opinion Poll, found that only two percent said living with someone outside of marriage was a satisfying way of life.

Spokesman Review, May 15, 1980, p. 3

Not Strained

Insurance salesman to customer: “You’ve filled in this application all right except for one thing, Mr. Perkins—where it asks the relationship of Mrs. Perkins to yourself, you should have put down ‘wife,’ not ‘strained.’”

Source unknown

Made His Heart Skip

There is one couple I shall always remember from my days as a hospital admitting clerk. The husband, a heart-attack victim, was immediately whisked away by the staff. Hours passed, though, before his wife was allowed to see him. She was dismayed to find him hooked up to elaborate machines that blipped, hissed and beeped.

She tiptoed toward his bed and, bending over him, whispered, “George, I’m here.” Then she kissed him. Suddenly there was a blippety-blip-blip from the equipment. “He was okay,” she later explained. “But after forty-seven years of marriage it’s nice to know that I can still make his heart skip when I kiss him.”

Contributed by Katie Barnes

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren never mentioned his wife, Hannah, in his autobiography.

Reader’s Digest, October, 1981

Get In and Sit Down!

Sign in Ken Stabler’s boat:
“Get in, sit down, shut up, hang on.”—like many marriages.

Growing Strong, Charles Swindoll, p. 298

Green Before Marriage

A young woman was applying for a Civil Service Job. Her maiden name, as well as her married name, was Green. To clarify this on the application, she penciled in: “Green before marriage.”

Contributed by Lidie Williams, Reader’s Digest

Gaining a Bathroom

Husband consoling wife at daughter’s wedding:
“Don’t think of it as losing a daughter; think of it as gaining a bathroom.”

Cavalli, King Features

No Good Thing

At a three-day retreat for pastors and their wives, one session consisted of testimonies about how the Lord had blessed our lives and ministries.

One young preacher’s wife stood up and began nervously, “The Bible promises, ‘No good thing does the Lord withhold from them that walk uprightly.’ Well,” she said sincerely, “my husband is one of those ‘no good things’!”

Contributed by Joyce N. Juris, Reader’s Digest

Why All the Contracts'

Actress Amy Irving, expecting a baby in June by director Steven Spielberg, says the two have signed a contract in which “Steven’s legally responsible for everything a father would be if we were married.”

“We’ve got a family lawyer who came up with a support agreement,” Irving revealed. Spielberg “has the same rights and responsibilities as a father.”

“Somewhere down the line, Steven and I may celebrate our love for each other and get married,” she said. “We’re so married in our hearts it seems redundant to think of a wedding now.”

Then why all the contracts?

Spokesman Review, May 15, 1985.

Example of Stealing

A Sunday school teacher was trying to demonstrate the difference between right and wrong.

“All right children, let’s take an example,” she said. “If I were to go into a man’s pocket and take his wallet with all his money, what would I be?”

A child in the back answered, “You’d be his wife.”

Source unknown

Living Together Does Not Make A Marriage

Living together does not constitute a marriage. The Lord met the woman of Samaria. She had lived with five husbands and the Lord called them husbands. But how about the man she was currently living with? The Lord refused to give him the status of a husband. He said, “And he whom thou now has is not thy husband.” (John 4:17,18)

The differentiation is very clearly given. Marriage is never a private affair. Two people are not married when in private they commit themselves to each other but when they do so in the presence of witnesses before God. Our Lord and His mother attended the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee. Obviously, there was an event which was given public and official recognition, and all acquaintances then knew that the two people were duly married.

Homemade, Dr. Spiros Zodhiates

They Fought Every Day

A man who had attended church for 25 years, was respected, and a leader in the church, came to his pastor and said, “Pastor, I’ve got something to tell you. I’ve never told this to a soul, and it is extremely difficult to tell you this now, but my wife and I have had a fight every day for the past 30 years of our marriage.”

The pastor was taken back and didn’t know what to say to the man. Praying for time to gather his thoughts, he said, “Every day?” “Yes, every day.” “Did you today before you came to church?” “Yes.” “Well, how did it end up?” “She came crawling to me on her hands and knees.” “What did she say?” “Come out from under that bed you coward and fight like a man!”

Source unknown

I Want To Hurt Him All I Can

A woman seeking counsel from Dr. George W. Crane, the psychologist, confided that she hated her husband, and intended to divorce him. “I want to hurt him all I can,” she declared firmly.

“Well, in that case,” said Dr. Crane, “I advise you to start showering him with compliments. When you have become indispensable to him, when he thinks you love him devotedly, then start the divorce action. That is the way to hurt him.

“Some months later the wife returned to report that all was going well. She had followed the suggested course.

“Good,” said Dr. Crane. “Now’s the time to file for divorce.”

“Divorce!” the woman said indignantly. “Never. I love my husband dearly!”

Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991


There’s a charming story that Thomas Wheeler, CEO of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, tells on himself. He and his wife were driving along an interstate highway when he noticed that their car was low on gas. Wheeler got off the highway at the next exit and soon found a rundown gas station with just one gas pump. He asked the lone attendant to fill the tank and check the oil, then went for a little walk around the station to stretch his legs.

As he was returning to the car, he noticed that the attendant and his wife were engaged in an animated conversation. The conversation stopped as he paid the attendant. But as he was getting back into the car, he saw the attendant wave and heard him say, “It was great talking to you.”

As they drove out of the station, Wheeler asked his wife if she knew the man. She readily admitted she did. They had gone to high school together and had dated steadily for about a year. “Boy, were you lucky that I came along,” bragged Wheeler. “If you had married him, you’d be the wife of a gas station attendant instead of the wife of a chief executive officer.”

“My dear,” replied his wife, “if I had married him, he’d be the chief executive officer and you’d be the gas station attendant.”

Bits and Pieces, January 9, 1992, pp. 3-4

Twelve Rules for a Happy Marriage

1. Never both be angry at once.

2. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.

3. Remember that it takes two to make an argument. The one who is wrong is the one who will be doing most of the talking.

4. Yield to the wishes of the other—as an exercise in self-discipline, if you can’t think of a better reason.

5. you have a choice between making yourself or your mate look good—choose your mate.

6. If you feel you must criticize, do so lovingly.

7. Never bring up a mistake of the past.

8. Neglect the whole world rather than each other.

9. Never let the day end without saying at least one complimentary thing to your life partner.

10. Never meet without an affectionate greeting.

11. When you’ve made a mistake, talk it out and ask for forgiveness.

12. Never go to bed mad.

Ann Landers

Nice Flowers

My husband’s uncle thought he had conquered the problem of trying to remember his wife’s birthday and their anniversary. He opened an account with a florist, provided him with the dates and instructions to send flowers along with an appropriate note signed, “Your loving husband.”

His wife was thrilled by this new display of attention and all went well until one day when he came home, kissed his wife and said offhandedly, “Nice flowers, honey. Where’d you get them?”

Celie Thomas, Reader’s Digest, March, 1991

I’ll Cling To You

During his courtship with a young woman named Julia Dent, Ulysses S. Grant once took her out for a buggy ride. Coming to a flooded creek spanned by a flimsy bridge, Grant assured Julia that it was safe to cross. “Don’t be frightened,” he said. “I’ll look after you.” “Well,” replied Julia, “I shall cling to you whatever happens.”

True to her word, she clung tightly to Grant’s arm as they drove safely across. Grant drove on in thoughtful silence for a few minutes, then cleared his throat and said, “Julia, you said back there that you would cling to me whatever happened. Would you like to cling to me for the rest of our lives?” She would, and they were married in August 1848.

Source unknown

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat

Dr. P. was a musician of distinction, well-known for many years as a singer and a music teacher. However, Dr. P. began acting strangely. Sometimes a student would present himself, and Dr. P. would not recognize his face. But then Dr. P. also began to see faces when there were no faces to see. When in the park he might pat the heads of fire hydrants and parking meters, mistaking them for the heads of children.

Finally, Dr. P. went to see Dr. Oliver Sacks for help. After the examination Dr. P. looked around for his hat. He reached out and took hold of his wife’s head, trying to lift it off and put it on his head! That explains the title of Sacks’s book in which he related this true story: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Source unknown

Frozen Squirrel

Sacramento, Calif.—A man who hit his wife with a frozen squirrel was jailed on suspicion of spousal abuse, police said Monday. Kao Khae Saephan, 26, had been arguing with his wife early Monday morning when he walked into the kitchen and took several frozen squirrels from the freezer, police spokeswoman Betsy Braziel said. The woman told police that when she walked in the room, her husband swung the squirrels at her and struck her in the head with at least one of them. She fell against a table and received a one-inch cut above her eye, Braziel said. Saephan was booked into the county jail.

Spokesman-Review, 12-17-1991

Most Common Complaints

Dr. Robert Travis, co-director of Marital and Health Studies at the Universtiy of Alabama, lists the most common complaints of husbands and wives:

  • WIVES: He doesn’t listen to me, He takes me for granted, He’s not romantic, He doesn’t help much with the children.
  • HUSBANDS: She doesn’t understand that I need time by myself, She nags about little things, She expects too much emotionally, She complains that I spend too much time at work. Fathergram, March, 1985.

Source unknown

How to Know a Man Before You Marry Him

1. Watch him drive in heavy traffic.

2. Play tennis with him.

3. Listen to him talk to his mother when he doesn’t know you’re listening.

4. See how he treats those who serve him (waiters, maids).

5. Notice what he’s willing to spend his money to buy.

6. Look at his friends. And if you still can’t make up your mind, then look at his shoes. A man who keeps his shoes in good repair generally tends to the rest of his life too.

Lois Wyse, Good Housekeeping, April 1985


  • One woman to another at the office, “Did you wake up grouchy today?” “No, I just let him sleep in.”
  • There is only one thing harder than living alone, and that is to live with another person. - Ingrid Trobisch
  • Love, the quest; marriage, the conquest; divorce, the inquest. - Helen Rowland.
  • Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory. - A. Lincoln
  • There are two kinds of people at parties—those who want to go home early and those who want to be the last ones in the place. The trouble is that they’re usually married to each other.
  • Parson’s Rule: At whatever stage you apologize to your spouse, the reply is constant: “It’s too late now.”
  • A good marriage is the union of two forgivers. - Ruth Bell Graham
  • Marriage should be a duet—when one sings, the other claps. - Joe Murray, Cox News Service
  • Before you marry, keep your two eyes open; after you marry, shut one. - Jamaican proverb
  • The German poet Heinrich Heine bequeathed his entire estate to his widow on the condition she remarry—“So at least one other man will regret my death.”
  • Even if marriages are made in heaven, man has to be responsible for the maintenance. - John Graham in Alma, GA, Times
  • Don’t buy the house; buy the neighbor. - Russian Proverb (Don’t marry the woman [only] but the family.)
  • Marriage is a journey toward an unknown destination—the discovery that people must share not only what they don’t know about each other, but what they don’t know about themselves. - Michael Ventura
  • “An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her,” said mystery author Agatha Christie, who was married to one.
  • What is the recipe for honeymoon salad? Lettuce alone without dressing. - The Bell, the Clapper, and the Cord: Wit and Witticism, (Baltimore: National Federation of the Blind, 1994), p. 11.
  • Marriage is when you agree to spend the rest of your life sleeping in a room that’s too warm, beside someone who’s sleeping in a room that’s too cold. - Contributed by E. J. Graff
  • Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it. - Helen Rowland, quoted by Robert Keeler in The Toastmaster, Reader’s Digest, June, 1994, p. 130
  • Overheard: “Marriage is nature’s way of keeping people from fighting with strangers.” - Alan King
  • In colonial days, a Boston sea captain named Kemble was sentenced to spend two hours in the stocks for kissing his wife in public on Sunday, the day he returned from three years at sea.
  • Abigail Van Buren says at the top of her list of the ten most common problems she sees in “Dear Abby” letters is: “My wife doesn’t understand me.”
  • The “Four D’s of marriage” according to author Fay Angus, are “depression, despair, drink and divorce.” - Fay Angus
  • You may win the argument, but if there’s blood on the floor, you lose anyway. - Anon
  • If you treat your wife like a thoroughbred, you’ll never end up with a nag. - Zig Ziglar
  • Commuter to seatmate: “Actually, my mother-in-law and I have a lot in common. We both wish my wife had married someone else.” - H. Bosch in National Enquirer
  • Barr’s comment on domestic tranquillity (Donald Barr), “On a beautiful day like today, it’s hard to believe anyone can be unhappy, but we’ll work on it. - From The Official Rules
  • It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another and so make only 2 people miserable instead of 4. - Samuel Butler, of Thomas Carlyle, in the Book of Insults, Ancient and Modern, by Nancy McPhee
  • Many girls marry men just like their fathers, which may explain why many mothers cry at weddings.

Who Makes the Decisions'

Who is responsible for what decisions around the home? A USA Today survey asked 4500 men and women.

The answers:

  • Women are responsible for deciding what’s for dinner and then preparing it, managing the household budget, raising the children.
  • Men and women share the responsibilities for deciding where to go on vacation, how much to spend on major purchases, how much insurance to carry and where to buy it.
  • Men are responsible for deciding what to watch on television.

Discoveries, Vol. 1, #2.

Personality Analysis

Wife surveys her husband’s personality analysis from a coin machine: “You are a leader with a magnetic personality, witty, and attractive to the opposite sex,” and exclaims, “Darling, it has your weight wrong, too!”

Source unknown

Married People Are Healthier

Demographers predict that 10% of young men and women today will never marry, and that half of those who do will divorce. Some 37% of adults over 18 are single, and roughly one-fourth of all households consist of just one person. Moreover, one child in four is born out of wedlock, and one-fourth of all children now live with a single parent.

Are these changes in American living patterns affecting the nation’s health? Health experts have long observed that married people are healthier than unmarried people, and that death rates (from all causes) are consistently higher among single and socially isolated people. More recent studies have suggested that mortality rates are about 100% to 300% higher for socially isolated men, and 50% to 150% higher for socially isolated women, than for their socially-integrated counterparts.

Resource, March/April, 1990


The evidence is convincing that the better our relationships are at home, the more effective we are in our careers. If we’re having difficulty with a loved one, that difficulty will be translated into reduced performance on the job.

In studying the millionaires in America (U.S. News and World Report), a picture of the “typical” millionaire is an individual who has worked eight to ten hours a day for thirty years and is still married to his or her high school or college sweetheart. A New York executive search firm, in a study of 1365 corporate vice presidents, discovered that 87% were still married to their one and only spouse and that 92% were raised in two-parent families. The evidence is overwhelming that the family is the strength and foundation of society. Strengthen your family ties and you’ll enhance your opportunity to succeed.

Zig Ziglar in Homemade, March 1989

What a Catastrophe

Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett received great recognition for his work—but not everyone savored his accomplishments. Beckett’s marriage, in fact, was soured by his wife’s jealousy of his growing fame and success as a writer.

One day in 1969 his wife Suzanne answered the telephone, listened for a moment, spoke briefly, and hung up. She then turned to Beckett and with a stricken look whispered, “What a catastrophe!” Was it a devastating personal tragedy? No, she had just learned that Beckett had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature!

Today in the Word, February, 1991, p. 15

Sex Not the Most Important

Sex is not the most important part of a love relationship. A Syracuse University survey asked married couples to rank the 10 most important things in a marriage relationship. Caring, a sense of humor and communication came in first, second and third. Sex came in ninth, just ahead of sharing household duties.

Dr. Thomas Lickona, in Homemade, January, 1985

Marriage is Meant to be Practical

Marriage is not romanticized in the creation account. Its ideal purpose is not one of sweet feeling, tender words, poetical affections or physical satisfactions—not “love” as the world defines love in all its nasal songs and its popular shallow stories.

Marriage is meant to be flatly practical. One human alone is help-LESS, unable. But “Two are better than one,” says Ecclesiastes, “Because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift the other.” Marriage makes the job of survival possible. And the fact that a spouse is termed a “helper” declares marriage was never an end in itself, but a preparation. We’ve accomplished no great thing, yet, in getting married. We have completed a relationship (though many a fool assumes that the hard work’s done with the wedding and turns attention to other interests). Rather, we’ve established the terms by which we now will go to work.

- Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Source unknown


A business man’s wife was experiencing depression. She began to mope around and be sad, lifeless—no light in her eyes—no spring in her step—joyless. It became so bad that this “man of the world” did what any sophisticated person would do. He made an appointment with the psychiatrist. On the appointed day, they went to the psychiatrist’s office, sat down with him and began to talk.

It wasn’t long before the wise doctor realized what the problem was. So, without saying a word, he simply stood, walked over in front of the woman’s chair, signaled her to stand, took her by the hands, looked at her in the eyes for a long time, then gathered her into his arms and gave her a big, warm hug. You could see the change come over the woman. Her face softened, her eyes lit up, she immediately relaxed. Her whole face glowed. Stepping back, the doctor said to the husband, “See, that’s all she needs.”

With that, the man said, “Okay, I’ll bring her in Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, but I have to play golf on the other afternoons.”

Maxie Dunnam, Preaching, May-June, 1986

Lord Begin With Me

Broken marriages begin to mend and communication is reestablished when one of the partners is willing to make a breakthrough and say, “Lord, begin with me. I am the one who needs to change, to love more deeply and more wisely.”

Even if you think your spouse is 100% wrong, when you stand in the presence of Christ you will begin to see that you, too, have shortcomings. You will discern where you have failed to accept responsibility for the marital relationship, and you will be able to say, “God, change me.”

The Christian is committed to follow Christ who went all the way in love, all the time. So, for a start, stop demanding that your partner change his ways. Let God start changing you.

Lionel Whitston, in Homemade, April, 1990

Kissing Husbands

Some German insurance companies and psychologists have found a correlation between work attitudes and a morning goodbye kiss. Studies show that men who do not kiss their wives goodbye are apt to be moody, depressed and disinterested in their jobs. But kissing husbands start off the day on a positive note. This positive attitude results in more efficient and safer driving practices. Kissing husbands live five years longer than their less romantic counterparts. However, kissing may be more a consequence than a cause of a happy life situation. The subject warrants continued investigation by every husband and wife.

Homemade, April, 1990

Today I’m Meeting My Wife

Two friends were having lunch at a cafe in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. They noticed a man sitting alone at an adjoining table. When the waitress approached him, they overheard her ask, “Are you waiting to be joined by a tall, thin woman with long, blond hair?”

He answered, “In the larger scheme of life, yes. But today I’m meeting my wife.”

Helen Wrobel, quoted by Ron Alexander in New York Times

Need the Third Strand of Hair

A braid appears to contain only two strands of hair. But it is impossible to create a braid with only two strands. If the two could be put together at all, they would quickly unravel.

Herein lies the mystery: What looks like two strands require a third. The third strand, though not immediately evident, keeps the strands tightly woven. In a Christian marriage, God’s presence, like the third strand in a braid, holds husband and wife together.

- Cathern Paxton

Source unknown

Gallup Survey

A Gallup survey of 657 adults over 18 mirrors the married population. 92% say they’ve had no affairs since marrying. 83% would marry the same person again, given the chance. 76% say their spouse is physically attractive. 48% say they are very playful when they’re alone together. 87% said they were “more concerned about being faithful than most people.”

Nanci Hillmich, quoted in Homemade, August, 1990

Would You Marry Your Current Wife'

A newspaper survey asked married men, “If you had it to do again, would you marry your current wife?” and found that the answer was, overwhelmingly, that they would. The Chicago Sun-Times found that 77.1 percent of first-time married men would remarry their spouses, compared with findings in a recent women’s magazine poll that said only 50 percent of the women surveyed would make another trip down the aisle with the same man.

The only other question asked in the newspaper poll was: “Why would you marry her again or why not?” Their reasons included: “Why not?” and “Without her, I’d be a bum.”

Spokesman Review, July, 1986

Actions Influence Feelings

I challenge those who come to me for marriage counseling this way: “If you do what I tell you to do for an entire month, I can promise you that by the end of the month, you will be in love with your mate. Are you willing to give it a try?”

When couples accept my challenge, the results are invariably successful. My prescription for creating love is simple: Do ten things each day that you would do if you really were in love. I know that if people do loving things, it will not be long before they experience the feelings that are often identified as being in love. Love is not those feelings. Love is what one wills to do to make the other person happy and fulfilled. Often, we don’t realize that what a person does influences what he feels.

Dr. Anthony Campolo, in Homemade, June, 1988

First and Last

I am the wife of a Baptist minister and have seen many a marriage license. On one, after the blank for number of marriages, the groom had answered: “First.” The bride had entered the word: “Last.”

Reader’s Digest

Carry Out the Garbage

A wise old sage early in our marriage advised us, “If you don’t carry out the garbage, one day your house will become a dump.”

Shades of the poet’s wording:

It is the little rift within the lute
that by and by may make the music mute.

Charlie Shedd, Homemade, Vol. 10, No. 11

Continuing To Adjust

We continue to adjust to each other, an adjustment that started 19 years ago and will never stop because we each continue to grow and change. We will always be different. I think of anniversaries as a time for roses and dinner; she prefers Mexican food and a movie. For Halloween she thinks apples are a good treat; I say, since when did Halloween have anything to do with nutrition?

Don’t mistake it for a solid marriage. There is no such thing. Marriage is more like an airplane than a rock. You have to commit the thing to flight, and then it creaks and groans, and keeping it airborne depends entirely on attitude. Working at it, though, we can fly forever. Only she and I know how hard it has been, or how worthwhile.

Michael Grant, San Diego Union.

Best Friends

Contrary to current theories, happy couples don’t express anger freely, don’t see marriage as a 50-50 proposition, don’t think separate interests are as important as shared activities. They do view their partners as their best friends, regard marriage as a sacred, long-term commitment, agree on aims and goals in life.

Jeanette Lauer, Homemade, Vol. 10, No. 12, Dec. 1986

Nothing But a Scrap of Paper

“Nothing but a scrap of paper—that’s what a marriage license is!”

This kind of extravagant statement is a symptom of the spirit of our age. With increasing frequency, marriage is being put down, cast aside, and overturned. But wait a minute! Aren’t scraps of paper important? Is it not one of the marks of civilized men that they protect themselves against their savagery by scraps of paper? Sure, a wedding license is a scrap of paper, but so in an employment contract, your paycheck, a twenty-dollar bill, the deed to your home, and the Constitution of the United States.

Dr. David Hubbard, Homemade, July, 1989

Living Together

Dr. Nancy Moore Clatworthy, sociologist, has been doing research on “living together” for 10 years. When she began her research, the idea of living together before committing yourself to marriage made good sense to her. Now, after scientifically analyzing the results of hundreds of surveys filled out by couples who had lived together, she opposes living together in any form.

Her answers make a powerfully Christian point: only a fully committed marriage relationship is really suited to working out the best possible relationship.

Tim Stafford in Homemade, October, 1989

Downward Spiral of Our Culture

Sociologist and historian Carle Zimmerman, in his 1947 book Family and Civilization, recorded his keen observations as he compared the disintegration of various cultures with the parallel decline of family life in those cultures. Eight specific patterns of domestic behavior typified the downward spiral of each culture Zimmerman studied.

  • Marriage loses its frequently broken by divorce.
  • Traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost.
  • Feminist movements abound.
  • Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
  • Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion.
  • Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept family responsibilities.
  • Growing desire for and acceptance of adultery.
  • Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 90

Parade Magazine Survey

Parade Magazine made a survey on marriage in the 1980s: An impressive 70% of the husbands and wives in the survey said they are “happily married.” 55% of them consider a “sense of humor very important” to marital happiness. Financial security, once an important consideration for women, hardly is mentioned. Sixty percent of the people said that the birth of their first child had a positive or very positive effect on their marriage. Although 92% said sex is important, only 32% said it is very important. That puts it below communicating (very important to 90%), mutual respect (very important to 82%) and doing things as a couple (very important to 58%). The survey showed that those who grew up with parents who were happily married were more likely to be happily married themselves. Contented husbands and wives tend to marry people like themselves, with similar backgrounds.

Resource, March/April, 1990

Marriage Myth

Myth: The amount of time you spend with your spouse is less important than the quality.

In a recent survey, more than 90% of the couples who considered their marriages strong and close also said they spend a great deal of time together. Conversely, divorced couples usually had spent little time together before the split.

Dr. Nick Stinnett, in Homemade, June, 1986

Costs of Getting Married

Wedding $2480
Ring $ 400
Honeymoon $ 920
Furnishings $4240

USA Today in Homemade, April, 1986

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