Six Secrets for a Successful Marriage—and They Can Build Your Business Too

“What’s the secret of a good marriage?” This question was asked of my husband twice this past week as he spoke for several events in Arizona and Tennessee. I’ve attended bridal showers where each guest was asked to give the bride her best piece of advice on this topic and I’ve seen lists in woman’s magazines detailing the same. Both of this week’s questioners, by the way, were male. 

The frequently given answers given are usually true. Can anyone disagree that laughing together is important or that commitment matters? Even when tips contradict each other, they have validity. You can make a case for never going to bed angry just as you can make a case for not speaking in anger but giving yourself time to cool off. 

The bottom line, of course, is that there is not any one magical tip for a happy marriage. If there was, the divorce rate would be minimal. Yet, because the second person to approach my husband did so at a business conference, I began to ponder the parallels between running a successful business and having a successful marriage. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Most people start both a new marriage and a new business with excitement, grandiose dreams and rose-colored glasses. This is great, because it encourages people to take a scary, risky leap into the unknown. However, those factors are based on fleeting emotions that hopefully will be recaptured at moments in the future, but certainly not on a daily basis. Know that.
  2. Only a fool embarks on a new business thinking that while it may take tons of work and time at the beginning, a time will come when no effort is necessary. Expect to give your best forever. 
  3. Outside and unexpected forces will intervene. An economy that crashes, illness, new technology, family crises…there is no way to know exactly where challenges will emerge, but emerge they will. Don’t be thrown by them.
  4. Despite #3’s surprise factor, you need to anticipate and make plans for difficult moments. If you’re opening a retail store or your business involves shipping, you may not know when bad weather will come but you should have a plan for bad weather. If you’re married, life will at many points make it difficult for you to nurture your marriage and you need to think about that before crunch time arrives. Plan ahead.
  5. Preparation and continuing education are vital. Hopefully, no one starts a business without a business plan. You may be a dentist or baking cupcakes, but if you have no idea what a profit and loss statement is you probably won’t be successful. If you think that whatever tools and knowledge you have now will be all you’ll ever need, you may have short, but not long term success. The marriage skills needed for a new marriage won’t carry you as you are blessed by children, as you age and as your economic needs and resources vary. Some of the skills you need will be out of your comfort zone. Make time and have a desire for growth.
  6. There will be failures. An employee will turn out to be a disaster; a ‘sure bet’ will be a dud. Your spouse will disappoint you; as a couple you will put your hearts into something that will bomb. Cultivate resilience and grace. 

My starter list is missing essential elements and it could be doubled and tripled without great effort. What would you add to the list?

You can still get the sale price on
Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language
Buried_Treasure_book_cover April 2012
Internalizing the meaning of words like happiness, table, love and laughter
can help your marriage thrive!

14 thoughts on “Six Secrets for a Successful Marriage—and They Can Build Your Business Too”

  1. Late in arrival, here, but I knew there was at least one element that I could contribute although it was a bit slow in gestation. The previous week’s ethics in business class discussion centered on the contrasting characteristics of capitalism and socialism wherein I rediscovered an appreciation of what I might argue as the principle tenant of capitalism which socialism does not offer, the principle by which any contract or transaction cannot be considered binding without. This is the principle is that of “consideration” which something of value offered in exchange for another of value of which both parties must come to an agreement as fair (and emphasizing free will) exchange. The socialist ideology premised upon a governance of a central authority working in public interest may have its merits, here, but, if adhered too strictly to, or is thought too much of as any sort of basic “right”, sooner than later compels an uprising and, eventually, certain failure.

  2. My husband and I have been married almost 29 years (4 kids) and he has run a small business for 26 years, where I have been very involved at least from the sidelines. So from both perspectives, I would add these:
    1. Keep the main thing, the main thing. Try not to get distracted or too upset over the irritations that will pass, whether an obnoxious customer or client or a disagreement over something small. Keeping the big picture is so valuable.
    2. Keep a little formality in the relationship. Continue to say “please” and “thank you” for a glass of water or any small courtesy.
    3. Keep a zone of privacy — everyone needs their space.
    4. Keep working on self-improvement. This is important for each individual, but adds newness and vitality to the marriage or the business.

  3. Well, here I come again, with two comments I hope you will accept. They are from a ‘commonsensical’ * perspective from many years of marriage, which I hope will not conflict with AJW. They are:
    1. With your mate, present a united front. IOW, let one partner not contradict or undermine the position of the other. This goes for marriage and for business, as well.
    2. Let each partner allow each other a little space to exercise and actualize personal preferences and pursuits.
    Dassall. Folks! Blessed Shabbat and good weekend!
    * ‘Common sense is the only kind of sense there is.’ (B. Franklin)

  4. My friend Sharon L. Wrote this to me as a response to the Musing: There are qualities/character traits that drew you to your spouse. There is an opposite side that will repel you – that will be the opposite of what you value and what you are attracted to. Just remember that when you are frustrated, when you feel not attracted, when you feel repelled, that there is the other side and it was that other side of the exact things that are repelling you that attracted you. The attractive side is spontaneity, fun loving, creative but the other side is not so responsible, not so reliable, hard to count on someone. The attractive side is mature and reliable, the unattractive side is boring and not creative. Remember to enjoy the “good” side of the qualities and when seeing the “bad” remember they are just the flip side of the good!

  5. For marriage and family relationships these words have been my best go to, always. Often I need to read them over and over just to get my head right.
    “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
    ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬
    I guess in business they would also be valuable. How a business person treats his/her employees and patrons/clients is important.
    Good Muse Susan!

  6. Here is my #1 piece of advice:
    1) We must have basic life and business skills before embarking upon a marriage and a business (one can also think of all employment as their business), and we must plan to learn and grow as we develop and change because this timeless plan was and is best for all of humankind (in all times and in all places).
    The physical metaphor to my advice is to hop aboard a sailing ship for a good long trip and make it a success.

  7. I would definitely agree with your answers, Susan. Thinking of my own marriage (six years and four children later), I just can’t fathom making it to where we are without chosing God and allowing Him to be interwoven in our tapestry of life. This includes in darkness and in light. As you stated, “resilience and grace.” That hits the nail on the head for my marriage. Not only as a wife; but mother, sister, friend and daughter. So for others who may still be ruminating about it, I would just humbly recommmend creating room for spiritual growth. Even when I’ve failed, even when I’m exhausted, and struggling- I strive to keep looking above the sun through it all. Don’t get me wrong here, my marriage has been incredibly joyous, but I believe that my husband and I continue to prevail because of the transformation God has made in us- from the inside out. I really appreciate your musings!


    I to am offend asked what makes a good marriage. My husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in July. We went together for two yrs before marriage, and no we did not live together lol.We have four adult children who have asked us this question, my reply is always put your spouse before yourself , if each of you is doing this it will definately help the marriage. My other advice is sometime you will love him so m u ch can’t imagine life without him, sometimes you will be angry enough to wonder why you married him in first place, the rest of time you will be coasting thru everyday life together raising your family. I love the show and try not to miss it every wkday, I call it my rest period as I am retired now.
    God Bless you Both, jean lindsay

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