Tomorrow my wife and I (above) celebrate 35 years of wedded bliss. Our initial courtship covered three states and four years before we said I do.

I met my future father in law at the Denver airport when I flew in to drive his daughter and all her worldly positions to San Diego, California to live in sin with me.

The sinful part only lasted a couple of years before we got married in a small church on the banks of the Pacific Ocean by an American India Shaman.

All quite legal in the state of California — at least according to the IRS.

Starting Out

When you say “I do” you have no idea what the future holds for the two of you. There will be happiness, sadness, times of challenge, and times of great hardship that will test your resolve to its very limits.

In our particular case we got off to a successful start because all we had was each other. Our families were thousands of miles away.

No undue influence or judgements as we made our early decisions.

In our first apartment we spend more money on Roach Motels then we did on food. It was a nasty place but only two blocks from the beach.

We moved as soon as we were able.

Marriage Is More Than Just A Piece Of Paper

Many couples who are “shacking up” as we once did fail to see the benefits of a true commitment.

They assume they are committed without that piece of paper. But here’s why that little piece of paper makes a difference.

That piece of paper creates consequences. Things like child custody, property, income, child support and all repercussions that often keep people together to work out differences.

The other aspect of a marriage verses living together without marriage is the pecking order of your family.

The most important people in any family are mom and dad and brothers and sisters. Your live-in partner has zero family standing. He or she could move out tomorrow.

When you marry your spouse is elevated to the top of the food chain. Mom, dad, brothers and sisters all come in second place.

You always side with your spouse — your life’s partner against any other family member.

Money and Communication

Two things that destroy many marriages are money and communication. Communication is the more critical of the two.

Money is something that should be a shared responsibility, but each person should have their own funds. Always discuss large purchases — cars, homes, home improvements.

By all means make a budget and live within your means.

Learn to Listen. It’s critical to a successful marriage.

His or her views are not trivial to them. They are important. Discounting them will put you in the lawyer’s office faster than anything else.

Don’t keep things bottled up inside you. Share how you feel and why. And reciprocate that same respect to your spouse.

Some Final Thoughts

Last but not least is compromise. It’s not my way or the highway. It’s what’s best for the family now and in the future.

The more discussion the fewer arguments and fights and the stronger the bond between you. It’s often said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

I don’t have all the answers, but I have found that doing the few things I’ve outlined here will help you stay together longer and weather life’s storms. Check em out.