“25 Tips for Staying Married,” column for May 15, 2012

(Note: I’m taking this week off from writing. This column is a repeat from 2006.)

“25 Tips for Staying Married” by Sharon Randall

I first met Steve when he was a high school freshman playing basketball for my husband. Of all the great kids we knew over the years, Steve was one of the finest. I’ll always be grateful for the eulogy he gave at my husband’s memorial service. When Steve got married a few years ago, I decided to to give him a gift that would be both useful and cheap _ advice. So I sifted through years of experience, old columns and letters from readers to come up with the following:

1_ Always put her first _ before work, friends, even basketball. Act as if she’s the best thing that ever happened to you, because we all know she is.
2_ Keep no secrets. Pool your money. Allow nothing and no one to come between you.
3_ Pick your fights with care. Play fair. Show some class. Hurtful words can be forgiven, but they’re hard to forget.
4_ Fall in love again every day. Kiss her in taxis. Flirt with her at parties. Tell her she’s beautiful. Then tell her again.
5_ Never miss an anniversary or a birthday or a chance to make a memory. Memories may not seem important now, but one day they’ll be gold.
6_ Never give her a practical gift. If she really wants a Shop-Vac, let her pick it out herself.
7_ Go to church together, and pray every day for each other and your marriage.
8_ Pay your bills on time and make sure you each have a living will, a durable power of attorney and life insurance, lest, God forbid, you ever need them.
9_ Love her parents as your own, but don’t ask them for money. Never criticize her family or friends. On her birthday, send flowers to her mother with a note saying, “Thank you for giving birth to the love of my life.”
10_ Always listen to her heart; if you’re wrong, say you’re sorry; if you’re right, shut up.
11_ Don’t half-tie the knot; plan to stay married forever.
12_ Never go to bed mad; talk until you’re over it, or you forget why you were mad.
13_ Laugh together a lot. If you can laugh at yourselves, you’ll have plenty to laugh about.
14_ Never criticize, correct or interrupt her in public; try not to do it in private either.
15_ Remember that people are the least lovable when they are most in need of love.
16_ Never fall for the myth of perfectionism; it’s a lie.
17 _ When you don’t like each other, remember that you love each other; pray for the “good days” to return and they will.
18_ Tell the truth, only the truth, and always with great kindness.
19_ Kiss at least 10 seconds a day, all at once or spread out.
20 _ Memorize all her favorite things and amaze her with how very well you know her.
21_Examine your relationship as often as you change the oil in your car; keep steering it on a path you both want it to go.
22 _ Be content with what you have materially, honest emotionally and keep growing spiritually.
23 _ Never raise your voice unless you’re on fire. Whisper when you argue.
24 _ Be both friends and lovers; in a blackout, light a candle, then make your own sparks.
25_ Be an interesting person, lead your own life. But always save your best for each other. In the end, you will know you were better together than you ever could’ve been apart.
Note: If you switch the pronouns (“she” to “he,” “him” to “her”) you’ll have 25 tips for the bride. They apply equally to both. Here’s to happily ever after.


  1. Barbara Wilhite says

    I so love reading your columns. In the past, I had cut out articles for my then bride-to-be daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law, whom I now call my son. I wrote this now son a letter from my heart and enclosed the articles for him and my daughter to share together. Well, guess what? My other daughter is on the countdown to wedding day. So again, I’m going to write my next soon-to-be son-in-law a letter from my heart. So where do I turn for articles? You, of course. And I found this article that I’m sure I gave to son #1 for soon-t0-be son #2. Thank you so much for sharing your life through your columns. (P.S. – I’m still scouring articles.)

  2. Dennis E. McCarty says

    I enjoyed this listing of to do’s. I have been married for 35 years on the 2nd of July, and I have failed in many of these areas listed however; I have nevers failed in the number one item listed. She has been the best thing in my life and she always will be. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my wife, my lover, and my friend. Should I lay her in the arms of my Saviour someday I will thank him for this special gift he has blessed me with.

  3. Cheryl Kesterson says

    I love this list and feel so grateful to have a husband who says/does all these things and more. By him making this effort it makes me try harder to return the same comments and responses
    – and more. I never realized before exactly what made our marriage so strong and now after reading your column, I see why we have been married for 25 wonderful years.

  4. Iya of SoCAL says

    Sharon, I was already teary reading your article halfway through then ended up cheery!
    Just loved it!

  5. Carol Mulrennan says

    I remember seeing this quite a few years ago and it still holds true today. I was widowed twice before I was 30 and I made many mistakes with both husbands. I found a great man one year after my final widowhood that loved me and my boys. He was a Godsend. My boys love him and call him Dad, I love him and call him my husband. We have been together going on 30 years, have 2 grandkids. Our lives may not be what we expected or even wanted but, like you, I’ve made do with what was given to me. I wish you peace. Also, I got your signature on my book you wrote in Redding, Ca. many years ago and it’s one of those things that make me smile to this day.

  6. Shirley Thacker says

    Sharon, again you hit the mark. . . what wonderful words of advice!!!


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