divorce-908743_1920How can a couple go from googly-eyed in love to utter hatred within a few years? Why is it so many adults who once pledged to love and cherish their spouse “till death do we part” stomp on their vows, toss in their wedding ring, and walk away?

Maybe the better question is, what does it take to make a marriage work? Today, my guest Mary Hamilton shares her experience in doing just that when her son comes home from college. Read on and be blessed and encouraged.


What Makes a Marriage Work?
by Mary Hamilton

Upon his graduation from college, our son noticed how many friends from both high school and college were getting married. But considering the number of troubled marriages he’d seen and the number of friends who came from homes scarred by divorce, writing-1209700_640he wondered how many of these relationships would succeed.

So, he gave his dad and me an assignment. Based on our 34 years of experience, we were to prepare a list of 5-10 bullet points on what makes a marriage work. While the following are not necessarily in order of importance, here’s the list we came up with.

    • A common faith, and a similar maturity in that faith. Without our personal faith in God, our marriage might not have stood the test many years ago. Faith provides accountability to a higher authority. It humbles us when pride gets in the way, provides hope in troubling times, and deepens the joy of victory over self.


    • Agreement on money—both spending it and saving it. Like most couples, one of us likes to save every penny and one likes to spend them. We need each other for balance so that the spender learns to save for a rainy day (and retirement) and the saver learns to enjoy the benefits money provides. Appreciate each other’s “bent” and cooperate to achieve maximum benefit from your finances.


    • Communication skills. Are you willing and able to talk with each other about anything and everything, revealing your deepest, darkest secrets? Can you broach a touchy subject withoutnails-1420329_640 fear of rejection, ridicule or punishment? Can you argue without making personal attacks on each other? Communication involves listening as well as speaking. Marriage requires both skills.


    • Some common interests. Couples should have activities they enjoy doing together. But allow room for differences as well. Varied ideas and interests keeps both partners growing in ways they wouldn’t achieve on their own.


    • A strong sense of humor. Laughing together is fun and builds the relationship in positive ways. When used properly, it can also defuse tension whether pressures come from outside the relationship or within.


    • Commitment to each other and the marriage. Make your spouse and your relationship a priority over other family, friends, work, etc. Keep complaints and disagreements between the two of you, speaking only good things about each other to friends and relatives and guarding your spouse’s reputation and integrity in front of others.


    • Respect each other. Show gratefulness and treat each other with kindness—even when you’re tired and grumpy, even when you’re disappointed with your partner, even when you’re angry and arguing. (Yes, this will happen!) Attack the problem, not each other.


All of these might be summed up in the word “Attitude.” Are both partners in this marriage more interested in having their own needs met or meeting the needs of the other? Are both willing to humble themselves in order to lift up their mate? Are both willing to compromise for the good of the relationship? An attitude that says, “We’re in this together and divorce is not an option,” lays a solid foundation on which to build a strong and vibrant marriage.

Would you add any suggestions to our list?


HNEmodifiedcoverHere No Evil:

A mother’s rejection. A bully’s taunts. Summer camp isn’t supposed to be like this.

Thirteen-year-old Brady is stunned when his mother drops him off for a week of camp and says she doesn’t want him living with her anymore. His pain only deepens with the cruel taunts and teasing of the camp bully. But is it possible his mother’s rejection was for his own protection?

Find out when you read Hear No Evil, Book 1 Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.


Alt. headshotMary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp similar to the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Her experiences during twenty years of living at the camp, as well as people she knew there, inspired many of the events and situations in her novels.

Two of those novels have been named Selah Award Finalists.

Mary also enjoys knitting, reading and evenings spent bird-watching from their back patio with her best friend and marriage partner for 34 years. She and her husband make their home in Texas.

Connect with Mary on her website, Facebook, and Pinterest.


livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Marriage should never be entered into without prayer and great thought. Mary’s son was wise to ask those with strong marriages for guidance! What are some suggestions you would add to Mary and her husband’s list? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Living by Grace.


Throughout the Bible, the elderly are portrayed as wise, honorable, invaluable members of society. Gray hair is viewed as a crown of wisdom and the young are instructed to treat them with respect. When addressing Timothy, Paul says to see to it no one looks down on him for being young–implying that others would have a tendency to do so.

Wow, have we flipped this! In America, the young are treated with great honor and the elderly viewed with contempt. And our elderly feel it. At a time when they should be reaping the rewards of a life well-lived, they are often shoved aside and overlooked. They are stripped of their dignity, and that, my friend, is a very hard pill to swallow.

As a teen, I worked in a nursing home and my heart often ached at the blatant disrespect I saw shown to numerous residents–because they were reduced to numbers, a task on a long to-do list. I also saw a pattern. Whenever a once independent resident fell and broke their hip, placing them in a position of dependency, this resident rarely recovered. Once their independence was taken, so was their will to live. We can’t prevent broken hips or degenerated muscles, but we can treat our elderly with the honor and respect they’re due. We can refuse to rob them of their dignity and self-respect. We can build them up, showing them by our words and actions that they are valuable and useful.

And most importantly, diligently teach your children to do the same by:

1) Teaching them to be respectful to all adults–and holding them accountable when they’re not.

2) Demonstrating respect daily. (Do you get frustrated by an elderly driver and verbally complain? If so, you’re teaching lack of respect.)

3) Visit a nursing home occasionally and encourage/allow your child to see the heart and struggles of others.

4) Use this verse often as you train your children: Leviticus 19:32 Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. (NIV)

As you read today’s story, stop and think of someone you know…an elderly woman in Bible study, bent forward with osteoporosis and shriveled with age. The countless men and women living in nursing homes throughout the country. Those isolated in low-rent apartments. Each time you encounter one of society’s wise and honorable, pause and think of a tangible way to show them respect.

Sunday Shoes by Jo Huddleston

The old man lives alone now, since his Ginnie passed away in her sleep six years ago. His two grown children live up north and visit only two or three times a year.

He still does his own cooking, foods he likes. He cleans house, when and where he thinks it needs to be cleaned. I come in every Friday to do his laundry. That’s the only day my husband has off from the plant and can stay home with the children.

Sometimes while I’m at his small house I straighten things up a bit.  Most times he fusses when I do, but I believe he really doesn’t mind all that much.

One thing he does mind, though. They won’t let him drive his car anymore.

I was there that day the two young deputies came to the house. Jacob knew they were coming. The doctor’s office had called to let him know they’d contacted the sheriff. After Jacob had the small stroke a while back, the doctor told Jacob he shouldn’t drive anymore. But Jacob went right on driving to the bank to deposit his Social Security check and around to the courthouse to sit with his friends on the shaded benches.

“I believe I should be able to drive if I want to.” He looked up from his rocking chair when he answered the deputy.

“Mr. Whitley, please give me your driver’s license. We don’t want you driving anymore.”

“I don’t think that’s right, you telling me I can’t drive my own car,” he softly protested.

“How old are you, Mr. Whitley?”

“Eighty-three.” The words added to his indictment.

“Sir, please, let me have your driver’s license.”

Outnumbered and obviously discouraged, Jacob took his thin wallet from his back pocket and slid the license from beneath is clouded window. His wrinkled hand trembled ever so slightly as he surrendered the precious possession.

Still he pleaded, “I need to drive my car. You ought not do this to me.”

Taking the license and making some notes on his clipboard, the deputy informed Jacob that his driving privileges were now revoked and he no longer had permission to drive his car. Although kind to Jacob, the two young deputies couldn’t understand Jacob’s high value of independence.

“It’s not right. I’d sooner lose my right arm than not be able to drive myself around.”

But the deputies had left the porch and only the breeze and I heard Jacob’s appeal.

Since that day his step is slower and more shuffled, his daytime naps longer; his eyes look beyond me when we talk. When I come by to take him to the bank or to church on Sunday, he’s uncomfortable. But he has resigned himself to sit in the car’s passenger seat. He nurses a silent rebellion.

Today, I decided, I’ll spruce the house up a bit more, make it a little brighter for Jacob. I glanced out the window. Rooted as usual in his wooden rocking chair, Jacob moved only to swat an occasional fly with his rolled-up newspaper.

I’d just finished with his bedroom when Jacob appeared in the doorway.

“Eleanor, what are you doing? Where’s all my clothes?”

“Oh, Jacob, you startled me. I thought you were on the porch.”

“I was. Where are all my things I had there in that chair?”

“Jacob, I wanted it to be a nice surprise for you. I’ve rearranged things so it will look a little better in here. See, I’ve set your Sunday shoes in the bottom of the closet and hung up all those clothes. I’ve even put this big picture over the bed, so you’ll enjoy it more.” I was proud of myself for being so helpful to Jacob.

“I didn’t want any of those things moved!” He’d never raised his voice to me before.

“Jacob, look how nice and roomy everything is now. I’m sure you’ll like it once you get used to it.”

“I don’t want to get used to it! Do I come to your house and move the pictures around and put your clothes where you don’t want them?”

His words yanked me from my assignment.

“Of course I don’t?” he answered his own question. “You wouldn’t like it any more than I’m liking it, either. Why are all you people treating me like this?” His eyes glistened with tears he could barely hold back. He slumped heavily into the empty, overstuffed chair, his dignity stripped away.

His frustration found its voice. “First my Ginnie goes and it’s never going to be the same. Then the doctor says I’m liable to have a big stroke anytime and tells me to quit my cigars. Next the police come and take away my driver’s license. And now, you. I didn’t think you’d turn on me too. I don’t have any living left.”

What had I done? He looked up at me as if he were the child and I the scolding parent.

Without a word, I went to the closet. I removed the several shirts and pants I’d just hung up and flung them carelessly over the chair, some falling across his lap.  Jacob watched quietly.

Finally, I picked up his Sunday shoes from the closet floor and tossed them—first one and then the other—toward the middle of the room.

I smiled at Jacob, understanding that the scattered clothes helped him to regain a measure of his treasured independence. The tight corners of his mouth slipped slightly upward and his chin rose noticeably. The Sunday shoes would hold their place in the middle of the floor, right where Jacob wanted them.

*      *       *

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories and teaches at writers’ conferences. Visit with her at her website http://www.johuddleston.com or at her blog http://johuddleston.blogspot.com

If you have a short-story, kiss from God story, an overcomers story, or a word of encouragement you’d like to share, shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail.com.