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What’s The Key To A Good Marriage?

by Richard Norris on May 21, 2015

Photo of two loving people holding each other by hands on golden autumnal background

What’s The Key To A Good Marriage?

At the altar, everyone sets out to have a good marriage. Some succeed. Some don’t. Those that do know that to succeed, they must work on their marriage…daily.

A good marriage can be heaven on earth; a bad one can be hell on earth. Everyone sets out wanting their marriage to be good. Not everyone gets it. Those who do, know the key to a good marriage is that it requires work – not just once, or once in a while, but daily.

When I got married to Nancy, we were intent that we would work on building a great marriage. Like anything worthwhile, we knew it would take time. We just celebrated 24 years yesterday, and we are still working on it. We have our good days and we have our less good days. That’s life. That’s marriage.

How good is your marriage?

In marriage, you can never coast or take your eye off the ball. If you do, as in a race or a game, you will likely lose. A marriage is meant to be a masterpiece created by two people. Like Michaelangelo’s David, your masterpiece will take time, love, patience, inspiration, skill and very likely a healthy dose of prayer. Your marriage is your lifetime’s work and the work of your lifetime.

To have a good marriage, you must be prepared to invest your time, energy, resources and yourself. As with an investment, when you invest wisely you get great returns. What you invest in the most, grows the most.

A good marriage demands commitment. It needs your attention every day. It’s all or nothing. The status and outcome of your marriage is down to you and your spouse. What makes this a big challenge is that each of you is human – that is, neither of you is perfect. That means, your marriage, like you, is a work-in-progress. You will have ups and downs, trials and tribulations, wins and failures. It also means you cannot go it alone. Marriage is a partnership. Each of you has a 100% stake. If only one of you is part of the equation, results will be lacking. When two of you engage fully, you create synergy. A good marriage requires teamwork. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Work more on your marriage than in it.

A good marriage seeks wise counsel. On the day you were married, you weren’t given an Operations Manual. You were left to your own devices. You write the manual yourself. Wise couples seek resources to help them grow their marriage. It could be books, DVDs, blogs, counselors, pastors, seminars, workshops and courses. We’ve availed ourselves of most of these. Some have helped more than others. The one consistent source that Nancy and I rely on is God. We committed our marriage to Him and He is central to it. We bring all things of our marriage to Him in prayer. We seek the Bible’s wisdom. I’ve learned that the closer we each get to God, the closer we get to each other. The closer you are the better your marriage becomes.

A good marriage embraces change. So far, the results have been good and are getting better  in our marriage. We each do our part to make it better. I know I cannot rest on my laurels. Joe Vitale, in his book, Zero Limits, shares that when something is not right in your life you are 100% responsible for it. Your decisions, actions and behaviors put you there. To change what’s not right, you must change yourself. External change is an inside job. You must begin by working first on yourself. Your marriage is a mirror. It will show up your highlights, but also your flaws, imperfections and blemishes.

A good marriage relies on good communication. Communication must be two-way. One of my favorite activities in our marriage is to sit at the kitchen table and just listen to Nancy share her day, her thoughts. I do my best to listen with my head and my heart. I do what I can to put myself in her shoes. Empathy is important for understanding. Good communication can be just a touch or something much more intimate. It can be a look. You can say so much without saying a word. It can be a word or words. It means when one is speaking, the other is listening. It means we listen more than we speak. It means we speak that which is aimed to help not harm. We are to use words that build up not tear down – words of life, not death.

Most of all, a good marriage is founded on love. Not just any love, but selfless love. This is central to a thriving relationship. Such love is putting the needs of your spouse before your own. The focus is serving rather than being served. At times, it will require sacrifice from one, the other or both. It’s worth noting that your spouse doesn’t exist to make you happy, but to help make you better. Each of you will have strengths and weaknesses. In a good marriage you accept this. You play to one another’s strengths. You work to complement each other. You do your best to help address each other’s weaknesses. In short, you each play your part fully to create, build and sustain a good marriage.

The key to building anything worthwhile is to put in the work. A good marriage is no different. You must work on it daily.

Your Powerplay

Identify with your spouse one area you will both commit to work on in your marriage to make it better.



Happiness Is Now A State Of Mine

by Richard Norris on May 18, 2015

happy fingers

Happiness Is Now A State Of Mine

Many, if not all of us, are in pursuit of happiness. Some get it. Some lost it. Some never had it. The key is to maintain it. Happiness is not just a state of mind, but also of heart and soul. Happiness is your choice and it’s yours to make and keep.

The other day I was speaking to one of the swimmers I help coach. I like him because he reminds me of me when I was swimming at that age – very focused, quiet and intense. He had just had some amazing results from a meet on the preceding weekend. I congratulated him and asked him if he was happy. His quick reply was, “No.” I then realized just how much more he was like me…or rather, I used to be. He was unhappy. I made a point to tell him just that. I told him that he will never be happy if he cannot appreciate what he has achieved. I shared that he will never be happy if  he keeps deferring his happiness based on future conditions. If happiness is based on “when”, it very likely will never happen. Unless he changes, this boy’s happiness will elude his life.

So…are you truly happy?

Happiness for many of us is a mirage. It seems to evade us because we are seeking outwith ourselves to be happy. But true happiness comes from within.

I spent a good portion of my life being miserable. Like a hummingbird, happiness only came fleetingly – before I knew what it was it was gone. I was very results focused. My focus was always on the BIG result. I never really took notice of the small results along the way. My pattern was that as soon as I achieved a desired result, I immediately switched focused to the next target. I never savored the moment. I never stopped to smell the coffee. My life sucked because I was sucking the life from it. That realization is when I changed.

I don’t recall exactly when this happened. On reflection, I do know it happened after I had scored all my various degrees and qualifications and many awards. My pursuit of happiness had been dependent on achievement. Those achievements left me empty. I realized I had put my head into them and maybe some of my heart, but my soul was not in them.

Happiness is an integration of body, mind and soul. Happiness is an experience not a transaction. It occurs in the present not in the future. The future is an “if”; today is a certainty. Happiness is a state of being and we can only ‘be’ now. For a large part of my life my happiness was always dependent upon something happening “when” or “tomorrow”. I mistakenly believed that something better was coming. I put off happiness today in the hope I would enjoy more tomorrow. No surprises then. Tomorrow never came so I was never happy.

Happiness is not a destination it’s a direction. Wherever it leads you, you will enjoy it.

Your Journey of Success is for you to travel. You can see it as a necessary task to get where you want to go or you can see it as an adventure to enjoy. Your happiness is your choice. When I realized that, that’s when I felt a shift within me. I realized that my happiness came from within and was not dependent on outside circumstances. I discovered and continue to discover that happiness is in the moment. I choose each day to be happy. Because I do, I feel more content. Because I do, my heart feels lighter and I am quicker to smile. Because I do, life has become simpler, unencumbered by conditions and complications.

Only you can determine your happiness. We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness. Some of the unhappiest people are people who have everything – fame and fortune etc. For example, look at the number of celebrities who “have it all”, but who are unhappy, in and out of drug rehab, and/or who have committed suicide. Yet, you can watch some documentaries about some of the poorest places on the planet and the people are happy. They are proof that happiness is a state of mind not money. Truly successful people, to me, are truly happy people – regardless of what else they may or may not have.

Here’s a few other useful insights I’ve picked up about happiness:

1. Happiness is a win:win. When you are happy life gets better and so do the people around you.

2. Be happy today. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

3. Give yourself permission to be happy. No one else can give it.

4. Stop and smell the coffee. Celebrate today’s success and even your failures (for the lessons they teach you).

5. Happiness never diminishes when shared; it increases.

6. When you serve others and give, your happiness increases.

7. You’re not responsible for other people’s happiness – only your own.

8. Be grateful. Count your blessings daily. The more you do, the happy you’ll be.

9. Happiness is relative. Stop comparing yours to someone else’s. Define it for yourself and focus on making it real.

Happiness is often seen to be something elusive and profound. But each of us can be happy. The secret is in the “being”. We don’t get happiness by “doing”. Happiness is not a result; it’s a state of being. Thus, it resides in us – heart, mind and soul. Your happiness is your choice. It’s a no-brainer.

Your Powerplay

Choose to start being happy today.  Make it so!



The Wisdom Of The Wise

May 14, 2015

The Wisdom Of The Wise Wisdom is less about words and more about application. Wise people apply what they know and have learned and grow in wisdom. The more wisdom you need, the more you need to apply what you already have. I’m not the wisest person in the world. No surprise there. However, I’ve […]

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