I have officiated hundreds of weddings. During every ceremony, there has been the time-honored ritual of the bride and groom making vows to one another. I have heard some traditional vows, some modern, some unique, and one just flat-out weird.

For some reason, I have never asked a bride or groom to “Repeat after me …”

“I John Doe, take you, Jane, to be my awful wedded wife. I promise to yell at you, belittle you, and slam doors. I promise to cheat on you, resent you, and bad-mouth you to my friends. I will not honor you, keep you, nor cherish you. I will loathe the mention of your name, divorce you, and hate you all the days of my life.”

“Jane, will you repeat after me … I Jane …”

Can you imagine? I am not asking you to imagine the sentiment. For some of you, those words and feelings are real and, in some cases, fresh. What I am asking is if you could imagine those words and feelings at the beginning of the marriage?

With the exception of a few messed-up situations, no one enters wedded bliss with plans to divorce, but over 50% of marriages today end with just that.

Somewhere between “I do” and “I don’t,” there is a disconnect.

May I suggest one key area of disconnection in a marriage? Poor communication.
May I suggest one key area of connection? Healthy communication.

4 HEALTHY COMMUNICATION DRILLS to strengthen a marriage

SHARPEN your own personal communication skills. Read a book, take a class, talk to a counselor, find a mentor. The opportunities are countless. The TACK-F Empowered Spouses Retreat is a great program.

DEVELOP communication tactics. Pre-emptive problem solving will cut known challenges off at the pass. Eye-contact-listening opens the ears. Commit to fighting fair.

PLAN ongoing time together. Date nights, lunches out, “I’m away from home” zoom calls, “The kids are asleep, turn off the electronics and let’s talk” time.

NETWORK with others trying to do the same. Faith communities and “Friends of Your Marriage” (those willing to shoot straight with you) are fantastic. MEPs (Marital Enrichment Programs) are a priceless resource.

You have said, “I do.” Now strengthen your communication skills by saying, “We can,” “We will,” and “We are.”