The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 23, 2013

Here are secrets to a strong marriage


Several of my Schlarman High School classmates said they liked my recent column that gave Bishop Joseph H. Schlarman’s advice to engaged couples.

The tips were published in 1939, but they’re timeless: honor the marriage vow, be faithful, don’t argue, don’t criticize, and praise, praise, praise … then praise a little more.

One classmate, Danville’s John Dreher, is an expert on such things. He and Barbara will mark their 40th wedding anniversary soon. That may be a Class of 1972 record.

I met John in 1968 and Barbara in 1983. Their marriage is much more than mutual toleration. They still dig each other, and it shows.

John’s tips are so good, I want to share them (I hope that’s OK, John):

1. Once you take those vows, you are not a “you” anymore; you are an “us.” Get used to being an “us,” and grow up.

2. Never, ever take that marriage vow if you consider divorce as even a remote possibility. We didn’t. If you think of it as a potential escape hatch, you will be tempted to pull the ripcord and eject about a million times.

3. Drop the notion that there are “your friends” and “my friends, “my money” and “your money,” “my interests” and “your interests.” Put the people, interests and resources into the pool because they are going to end up in that pool anyway, whether you like it or not. If you try to cling to anything outside the couple-hood because you foolishly think you hold a realm, you will lose one, the other, or both. I adopted my wife’s interests and she adopted mine, long ago.

4. Anytime you cook pork chops, put the bigger of the two on his/her plate.

5. Don’t be a slob. Your partner has to live in the house, too. He/she should not have to clean up after you, no matter how long he/she has loved you. Men, clean the kitchen and mop a floor once in a while. Do some laundry before you skip out to golf, without being asked.

6. Women, get over yourselves. You ain’t June Cleaver, so mow the grass sometimes.

7. Dismiss his/her faults as being simply human; forgive any and all harsh words spoken anytime after 9 p.m., then, when you are done with that, forgive all the harsh words spoken before 9 p.m.

8. When your partner comes home with job frustrations, keep your mouth shut and listen. He/she is not venting to hear you compare your crappy work environment to hers/his.

9. Imagine that your partner is about to leave the house and become involved in a fatal accident. Imagine that this is the last time you will see him/her alive. I guarantee that if you do this, all tensions, all anger, all disappointments will dissolve.

10. Love your partner as if there will never be another, because there will, indeed, never be another.

This is how you stay married to your best girlfriend for 40 years.

Danville native Kevin Cullen is a former Commercial-News reporter. Reach him at