The One Word Secret to a Lasting Marriage

The One Word Secret to a Lasting Marriage- a #staymarried blogA good friend of ours is a pastor. In fact, he’s such a good friend that a few years ago we decided to move from Washington to Wisconsin to help him with his dream of launching a church for people who hate church in the town he grew up in. We spent a whirlwind three years there and we’re so glad we did it! While we were there and working with him, we saw him counsel a long line of couples. Despite his counsel, we saw some of those couples even get divorced. It is such a hard thing to watch and I could never imagine being in his chair, sitting across from a couple that is hanging on by a thread.

So, since we’re friends, I asked Pastor Dave Nelson directly to share with me if he’d noticed anything in common with the couples he counseled that stayed together and the couples that divorced. What he shared was surprisingly simple. Here he is to share it with us…

I’ve finally figured it out.

After officiating over 100 weddings… providing pastoral guidance to scores of couples… giving almost 50 talks on the topic of relationships… and battling through almost 10 years of my own marriage hell… I’ve discovered the “secret” of couples who make it and couples who don’t.

It boils down to one word: HUMILITY

That’s it. Humility!

Humility says, “I’ll work on this marriage, even though I’d rather be doing something else.”

It says, “I forgive you, even though I prefer to hold a grudge.”

It says, “I’m going to let you choose the schedule for this holiday season, even though I’m used to getting my way.”

It says, “I’m willing to recognize and admit my faults, even though I hate apologizing.”

It says, “I’m going to look for ways to proactively help you, even though I’d rather be watching TV and doing nothing.”

It says, “I’m going to go through the hard work of learning to be an encourager, even though it’s easy for me to find faults.”

It says, “I’m going to learn to listen to you, even though I prefer to talk all the time.”

It says, “I’m not going to threaten divorce when we get in big fights, even though that is how I’m feeling at the moment.”

It says, “I genuinely recognize that I need you (and others) in my life, even though I’m a fiercely independent person.”

It says, “I’m going to find ways to honor you, even though I’m naturally a selfish person.”

It says, “I’m going to talk with kindness and respect to you, even though I’m stressed and crabby.”

You get the point. Humility is a big deal.

Interestingly, the Bible never encourages us to pray for humility. It simply tells us to “humble ourselves” (James 4:10; Philippians 2:5-8)


Hmm… Can that really be all it takes? Could this one word, this one characteristic, build my marriage and possibly prevent Tony and I from getting a divorce? Could this one change in perspective gently guide a couple out of the offices of their separate lawyers and back into each others arms? I think it’s possible and I’m willing to try it for myself. I have a feeling I already know what Humility might say in our house…

“Honey, I am going to ask you kindly for help, even though I wish you would just see what I need on your own and take care of it.”

What might Humility say in your house?

We would love for you to share in the Comments section below if you really think it’s this simple. If not, what makes it more complicated? Do you think Humility could help you #staymarried?

8 thoughts on “The One Word Secret to a Lasting Marriage

  1. Humility in my house means not speaking. Keeping quite when I think I’ve been especially helpful, worked really hard, noticed a mistake. This is just what I needed to hear right now!!! Thank you!

  2. Interesting choice. My husband has always assured me it is “Respect” and my grandfather says “Forgiveness”

    When employed properly, any of the good words includes the other, doesn’t it?

  3. I absolutely believe “HUMILITY” is the key, Michelle. It is always the only thing that allows me to do what I’m supposed to in my marriage, and the lack thereof that prevents me from doing the same. Excellent post.

  4. Do you think if only one spouse exercises humility, it will work? Even when the marriage is literally hanging by a thread and the other spouse is checked out?

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