Making Marriage Work


For the past 10 years, as a Family Law attorney, I have seen many marriages gone bad and have helped hundreds of people through the dissolution process. I have many “made for movies” stories that I could share. I know that there are a lot of books, movies and speakers out there who give relationship advice. Most of them, from what I gather, have never seen things from my perspective. Keep in mind that I am not an expert in marriage or relationships; however, I have seen many marriages and relationships at their worst.

This unranked list is my advice about how to have a successful relationship:

  1. Communication. When things are not going well, talk about them. When things are going great, acknowledge that.
  2. Don’t make each other “fish” for compliments. My husband always tells me to “stop fishing” when I ask him questions such as “How do I look?” or “How do you like this shirt?” If you tell your partner every now and then that they look great or that you like what they are wearing, for example, they won’t have to “fish”!
  3. Honesty. In my experience, when things are not going well in a relationship people look outside the relationship for comfort—so always be honest with each other about what it is going on and what problems you may be having.
  4. Never go to bed angry. Always discuss problems before a new day approaches.
  5. Always kiss each other hello, goodbye and goodnight.
  6. Take vacations together. Our work is stressful. With the increase of technology—meaning our clients or customers know how to find us at most times of the day—it is important to “unplug” and relax.
  7. Respect each other individually. We all have different interests and thoughts, so it is important to respect each other.
  8. Recognize that you are equal. I tend to see marriages succeed when both parties have equal say about how things are and what needs to happen.
  9. Treat each other with kindness. If there is any abuse, verbal or physical, get help ASAP. No one deserves to be treated poorly, especially by someone you love.
  10. Listen. Listen to each other. Listen to what your spouse is telling you. Listen to what their concerns are. Before you say anything in return, make sure they are finished.
  11. Flowers. To all you husbands out there (and even to wives—some guys do like flowers too): I have never known anyone who did not like receiving flowers when it was not their birthday or special occasion. Those “out of the blue” flowers go a long way.
  12. Spice it Up! It is quite common that marriages get in a “funk.”  People get into the same routine, eat the same foods, go to the same places, hang out at the same places, and sometimes follow set schedules. It is important that you plan different activities or even restaurants to go to.  What about going on a different hike? Go to a different winery to taste wine. Try the new hot-spot restaurant in town. Try a new recipe.
  13. Have Fun! Make sure that you are laughing together every day. Put on some music and dance and sing out loud. Go on a walk together. Do whatever it is that you both enjoy!

Hopefully these tips will assist you in making your relationships stronger. If, for some reason, you are heading down the road of divorce or separation, make sure you can find someone to help who understands the process and can assist you during this difficult time.

Shannon Stein is a Family Law Attorney. Her website is

Image provided by Melissa Miller & Vinnie Fernandez, PAMP’s Lead Photographers and co-owners of C’est Jolie Photography

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