7 Marriage Tips to Stay Lucky in Love

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It’s countdown time. Thousands of couples will walk down the aisle this Saturday, 7-7-07, hoping all those 7s — the number long associated with luck — will keep them lucky in love. It’s one of the most popular wedding dates in modern history, according to overwhelmed wedding planners, florists, and photographers.

Relationship experts caution, however, that much more than luck is needed to stay together and beat the odds of a divorce, now estimated to end half of today’s marriages. Here, relationship experts consulted by WebMD offer their best marriage tips for how to stay lucky in love. And they go way beyond the usual tips to buy her flowers, cook his favorite meal, and remember to schedule date night.

Marriage Tip No. 1: Purge the “D'” word.

With the taste of wedding cake barely off their lips, divorce is the last thought — or word — on newlyweds’ minds. But as the honeymoon period wanes, and day-to-day difficulties crop up, the word can come up frequently during arguments for some couples, say relationship counselors.

“Just don’t go there,” suggests Steve Brody, PhD, a sex acceptable, some relationship experts disagree.

“I’m not big on cross-gender friendships for married people,” Brody says. “It’s playing with fire.” One exception, in his book: If a wife has a friendship with a gay man or a husband has a friendship with a gay woman, he’s fine with that, since the romance potential is nonexistent.

Otherwise, he says, the line is too easy and tempting to cross.

Marriage Tip No. 5: Stop trying to control your partner.

It’s another one of those easier-said-than done marriage tips, of course. But trying to control each other — using a technique psychologists call “external control” — is the main source of marital unhappiness, according to the Glassers. In a happy marriage, partners know they cannot control each other.

You have practiced this “external control” if you have ever told your partner they need to behave the way you want them to or that you know what is right.

Learning not to control a partner can be a long process, but the Glassers offer some tips on educating yourself. “Think first,” Carleen Glasser says. Ask yourself: “If I can only control my own behavior, what can I do to help the marriage?” Then think of what you can change to make the problem better, she suggests.

Marriage Tip No. 6: Honor and respect your partner.

“Be honoring all the time,” says Thomas Merrill. That means no “my old lady” stories, he says. And it also means a wife shouldn’t be flirting with male co-workers or other men.

Respect was also a marriage tip that came up often from the marriage masters, Boggs says. “The No. 1 principle that almost everyone talked about is respect,” he says. “You can have respect without love, but you cannot have love without respect.”

Respect, say those with a happy marriage, means not undermining your partner in front of the children. “And don’t go outside the marriage when you are having a problem,” Boggs says they advised. “Discuss it with your partner.”

Respect also means not criticizing your mate in front of others, Miller and Boggs were often told by the marriage masters. To make this marriage tip easier to practice, consider the input of one marriage master on the topic, Boggs says. “One man told me, ‘Let’s say someone is walking by when you are criticizing your mate. That is the only opinion they have of you.'”

Marriage Tip No. 7: If you’re the wife, lower your expectations. If you’re the husband, step up to the plate.

When Steve Brody and his wife, Cathy Brody, MFT, a marriage and family counselor, toured the country to promote their book, Renew Your Marriage at Midlife, they asked audiences what they wanted from marriage.

“Women expected to be loved, cherished, listened to, cared for, and courted,” Steve Brody says. They had a long list of wants and expectations, he recalls. The men joked that their expectations were more basic: Their typical answers, Brody says: “Bring food and show up naked.”

While the men were half joking, the gaps in expectations are a good lesson. To close the gap, Brody says, women need to lower their expectations — to not expect 24/7 romance, for instance, especially if their mate has just worked an unbelievably long week.

Men need to do some of the things the woman wants, such as prioritize their relationship and listen more, he says. In a nutshell, Brody says, “Men need to do the same things at home that they do at work.” He tells the husbands he counsels to think of it this way: “Your wife is the million-dollar client. If she walks out the door, the business is closed.”