Phil’s Tips for a Great Marriage


While I was writing the book, To Be Perfectly Honest, a daily diary of me trying to live without a lie, I wondered; “How honest should I be with my wife? I mean, when she asks me how the soup is, do I say, “Honey, normally your soup is amazing. But even Mozart wrote some movements no orchestra would play”?”

I once told Ramona I liked her haircut. It wasn’t true. I liked it before it was cut. She once told me, “I like you better with less hair.” She lied. Lying has such been a blessing in our marriage. No, I’m kidding. Of course, the ultimate dilemma for guys is when our wife stands before us and asks, “Do the horizontal stripes on this dress make me look husky?” What to do? Pretend to have a hearing problem? Join the navy and leave home? No. But if ever your wife mentions the word chubby in a sentence relating to her, jump in fast. Say, “Not a chance Babe. You look fantastic. I can’t believe you married me.”

Ramona and I have been married more than 30 years partly because I’ve learned to build good things with my words. I steer clear of sarcasm. I remember her birthday and forget her age. And more than anything, it’s been God’s grace. There’s a woman who’s seen me at my worst and still loves me. Also…I leave flirtatious messages on her voice mail. If you do this, make sure you dial correctly. We practice stubborn commitment. She doesn’t vacuum during baseball games. We dance together. Even if our children wander into the living room and make gagging noises. We say things like “Sorry” & “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” “Here’s my wallet.” Okay, be careful with that last one. We attend church regularly. We disagree while smiling. And once just to bring some excitement into our marriage, we watched the movie Jaws together with our feet in a big tub of water.

In all our relationships there are times we need to speak up and address a problem. But remember there’s a way to do it. God’s Word is filled with amazing relational advice. Eph 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Tell the truth, but always do it in love. And here’s another marriage tip. Sometimes I go around the house tightening jars. That way she needs me more.

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