101 Tips for a Happier Marriage

Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other

By Jennifer Roback Morse & Betsy Kerekes 

Ave Maria Press, 2013

144 pages, $12.95

To order: avemariapress.com


It takes two to fight, but can just one save a marriage?

According to 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage: Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other, relationships can get better through the power of one.

The authors’ point is that someone has to go first. Be the first to show love, to forgive, to give a compliment and to express gratitude.

Jennifer Morse is an author, marriage and family scholar and founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project devoted to marriage. Betsy Kerekes blogs at Parenting Is Funny and writes for the Ruth Institute’s blog and newsletters. Together, they compiled 101 ways to improve a marriage with or without spousal participation.

"Get a few things straight," they write. "Love is a decision, not a feeling." True love, they explain, wants what is best for another. Find ways to fall in love again and again, but do not feel cheated when the warm fuzzy feelings fade, because, after all, that is not all there is to love.

Each of the book’s tips is part suggestion and part inspiration. They are no-nonsense, practical and completely doable, regardless of whether someone is a newlywed or celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary.

Many of the suggestions are about being realistic. "Only God is perfect," they write, "so don’t expect perfection in your spouse." And while you are at it, they say not to expect perfection in yourself either.

Yet the only one you can really change is yourself.

"If there is one thing you can control in your relationship," Kerekes and Morse write, "it’s how you react to the things that happen around you."

Perspective is key, too, they note: "When you think things are rough for you, ponder the passion of Christ and gain some perspective. Then rely on the Lord to help you."

The authors remind people that there are three people in a marriage: the husband, the wife and God.

The very last — and best — tip is to pray every day for your marriage: "The sacrament of marriage gives you the grace you need to keep the love alive, but asking for assistance daily certainly helps."

Patti Armstrong writes

from North Dakota.