As the 10th of 12 children, my older brothers and sisters obviously got here many years before I did. Two of my older brothers and two of my older sisters had failed marriages. Since I was at the bottom of the production chain, my younger brother and I had the benefit of what my mother had observed and taught us. She pointed out that we should never date a girl more than once or twice if we discovered we would be unwilling to have her as the mother of our children and be unwilling to take her wherever we were and introduce her with pride to anyone. I listened intently to what my mother had to say. I chose carefully.

I met my wife-to-be when I was 17 and she was 16. I wasn't in love with her at first glance, but I knew instantly I wanted to get to know her better. During the two years, two months and eleven days of courtship, during which I relentlessly pursued her, I came to know her quite well. We will soon celebrate our 60th honeymoon. We stopped having anniversaries after the first one, and I can tell you honestly and forthrightly, had it not been for the love, encouragement and support of my wife, you would not be reading this article today.

The reality is research shows that the number one cause of productivity decline in America is marital difficulties at home. The question is, how do you avoid those marital difficulties? Answer: You will never be able to solve all of them to perfection. But there are some simple guidelines that will make the difference.

Number one, honor your vows. When you said "I do," you were saying, "I'm going to be faithful and loving to you the rest of my life, and the two of us shall become one." It's more than a cliche to say that what happens at home affects what happens on the job, and vice versa. The "home court advantage" is huge! It's so comforting to know that when I get home from an out of town trip or from just down the street, I know the door is going to always be open and I'll be welcomed home.

I believe it's because of honoring our vows, number one, and number two, the respect and consideration we give to each other every day.

Little things make big differences. The new anniversary automobile, the huge diamond, or luxurious, exotic vacations are fun--but that's not what you build a marriage on.

A simple illustration: During the sixty-plus years the Redhead and I have known each other, when I am with her she has probably opened her own car door less than a dozen times. She is a wonderful car-door opener, and can certainly enter a building under her own steam. But every time I walk around a car I am reminded, "Here is the most important person on the face of this earth to me. She is the one I love above all others." I honestly get a thrill out of being able to simply open a door for her.

Showing respect, talking to your mate, listening to your mate, keeping those little promises to your mate. Even as I write these words, my wife is downstairs. She recently had a heart attack. Fortunately, there was no permanent damage; she's doing wonderfully well. But she's been under "house arrest" and will be for a couple of weeks before she'll be able to venture out. In the meantime I'm having the privilege of being attentive and taking care of the needs she has that she cannot take care of but I can. It's been a delightful experience. It's kept me busy, but she's famous for her hugs. I seldom bring her anything or cross paths with her that she doesn't give me one!

In addition, we talk about everything. I frequently, half-jokingly but seriously at the same time, say that if she ever leaves me I'm going with her!

The relationship between the husband and wife is extraordinarily important for every phase of their lives--the effect it has on the children and careers is tremendous. I'm completely comfortable in pointing out there has never been a man, nor has there ever been a woman, who is as smart as both of them combined. Everything about them is different--and am I ever grateful for the differences!


A talented author and speaker, Zig Ziglar has an appeal that transcends barriers of age, culture, and occupation. Since 1970, he has traveled over five million miles across the world delivering powerful life improvement messages, cultivating the energy of change. Since 1970, an extensive array of Ziglar audio, video, books, and training manuals have been utilized by small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, U.S. Government agencies, churches, school districts, prisons, and non-profit associations...

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