The 6 Promises that Make a Marriage


One of my greatest privileges is to get the honor of standing with a bride and groom on their wedding day, and guiding them through the sacred vows which will begin their new life together as husband and wife. I’ve said those words hundreds of times, and each time, I pause to reflect on the significance of each promise represented in those timeless vows. These words aren’t just a requirement for a wedding ceremony, but they can also be a guiding compass for a lifelong marriage.

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4 reasons to ALWAYS listen to your wife

shutterstock happy couple

Most men aren’t very good listeners (and I’m a man, so I can relate from personal experience). The more I work with couples, the more I’m convinced that a lack of listening (particularly on the part of husbands) is one of the biggest barriers to trust and intimacy in marriage. I’m not trying to beat up on the guys here, because marriage is a two-way street, and both husbands and wives have important responsibilities, but this particular post is a challenge for the men (myself included).

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5 habits that keep marriages stuck in a rut


My wife Ashley and I hosted a marriage conference this past weekend. We love doing those kinds of events, because we get the opportunity to connect with couples and hear about their joys and their struggles. I met one man who’s trying to keep his marriage intact and he told me a heartbreaking (but familiar) story. They weren’t trying to hurt each other, but they didn’t seem to know how to stop doing it.

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The 5 things your kids will remember about you

mom kissing daughter

My wife Ashley and I just had our fourth baby. Having a new baby in the house has made me feel more nostalgic than usual and I’ve reflected back on my own childhood. I’ve thought about the memories that stick out in my mind and I think about the memories I want my own children to hold onto. I want to be intentional about every precious moment.

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7 parenting lessons from the “Greatest Generation”

Dave Willis great grandparents

This is a picture of my great grandparents, William and Lucille Willis, the first five of their nine children and my great great grandmother who lived with them in their two-room farmhouse. My grandpa was their oldest son (on the far left of the photo) and my Dad was their first grandchild.

Dad spent much of his childhood on their farm in Chandler, Indiana and he still recounts those memories as the greatest of his life.

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7 things to remember when your heart is broken


Last week, I did one of the most difficult things of my life.

A friend of mine from church who has suffered with chronic pain made the desperate decision to end his own life. I got the call from his heartbroken sister. I learned that my friend’s mother didn’t yet know the tragic news. I felt that I needed to be part of walking with this family through their darkest hour, so I volunteered to go with with the siblings and tell my friend’s Mom that her son had died.

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7 signs you’re having an emotional affair


I recently received an email from a woman who was having an emotional affair.

The sad-but-familiar story began by describing a “friendship” she had developed with a man at work and it had progressed into something much more. The relationship hadn’t yet crossed into physical/sexual contact, but they were flirting with the idea and getting closer to those forbidden lines with each passing day.

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4 ways to measure the trust and honesty in your marriage

Dave Willis marriage quote quotes secrecy secrets

As I’ve worked with couples in crisis, one pattern I’ve observed is that most unhealthy couples share a common trait: A lack of trust and honesty. Healthy couples, by contrast, always have strong levels of trust and honesty.

In marriage, your level of intimacy with each other will always be based on your level of honesty with each other. 

I’m not always in favor of “tests” in marriage, but there may be times when it is helpful to evaluate and measure the strength of your relationship. Below are some simple ways to display your trust in one another and also display areas where trust may be lacking. Without a ways to evaluate, you may never know where you’re strong and where you’re struggling.

It’s my hope that these exercises will stimulate some healthy discussions between husbands and wives. If you read through these and you’re not comfortable doing them in your marriage, ask each other why. An unwillingness to try these out could reveal an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

This is going to make some people incredibly uncomfortable. I get that, but I also believe temporary discomfort is sometimes required to create permanent health. I challenge you to do whatever possible to create stronger trust and honesty in your marriage.

4 ways to measure the trust and honesty in your marriage:

1. The Phone Test

Trade cell phones for one week. You should be comfortable with your spouse seeing and responding to any text messages or calls that come to you on a given day. It sends the message to each other and to others that the two of you are connected in every part of life.

2. The Money Test

One of the most common areas of deceitfulness in marriage is in the area of finances. Many couples hide money and/or purchases from their spouse. This is a dangerous form of deceit. The “money test” is to trade debit and credit cards for one week and share all financial information even after you’ve traded back the cards.

3. The Secret Test

There’s no place for secrecy in marriage (unless you’re throwing a surprise birthday party). The Secret Test is to commit to never being offended by a question from you spouse, a commitment to always answering truthfully and a commitment to voluntarily confessing to any secrets you’ve been keeping.

4. The Search Test

We should be comfortable with our husband/wife knowing everything we search for on the internet. For mutual accountability put a software on your computers and phones like X3Watch where you’ll make all your searches shared with your spouse.

I realize that these tests may sound drastic, but I also believe that couples who are willing to implement this kind of accountability are commit to a marriage with no secrets are the couples with the best chance of creating a thriving, lifelong marriage.

For more ways to build a rock-solid relationship, check out our newest book, Marriage Minute: Quick & Simple Ways to Build a Divorce-Proof Relationship” which is now also available on iTunes as an ebook download for iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices by clicking here.

For daily encouragement, please connect with me on Facebook by clicking here.

4 ways to improve a lonely marriage

Recently, my amazing wife Ashley recently wrote an insightful post on The Big Lie that leads to a Lonely Marriage” and it stirred up a lot of conversations. Through those conversations, we’re learning that many individuals feel “alone” in their marriage.

There are different degrees of loneliness in marriage, and we’ve heard statements like this:

“My husband just doesn’t understand me.”

“I’m the only one who seems to care about this marriage.”

“My wife doesn’t seem to care about my needs.”

“We’re just going through the motions. I don’t know how to break out of this frustrating cycle.”

“It’s like we’re not even married. We’re just two roommates sharing the same house.”

“I want things to be better, but he/she doesn’t seem to want to change anything.”

“I’m doing all I can, but I feel like I’m fighting alone. I feel alone in this marriage.”

Do any of those statements resonate with you? There are few things in life more discouraging than feeling disregarded, disrespected or abandoned by a spouse. If you find yourself in a “Lonely Marriage,” don’t lose hope.

There are ways you can fight for your marriage even when it feels like you’re fighting alone.

If you’re feeling alone in your marriage, you can do everything in your power to bring improvements to the relationship by:

1. Give love based on permanent commitments, not temporary feelings.

One of the most difficult (and most important) aspects of marriage is to love your spouse even when he/she is being unlovable. This is really the essence of love. It means giving the best of ourselves even when it’s not being immediately reciprocated. This is what God has done for us. It’s selfless, and it’s difficult, but it’s also powerful.

Dave Willis marriage quotes quote divorce adoption

2. Model the kind of behavior you want to see from him/her.

When we’re frustrated with our spouse, it’s natural to want to unplug from them, nag them or criticize them, but none of those tactics ever seem to work. This step is a natural progression from the first point about giving love even when it isn’t immediately reciprocate. Do for him/her what you’d like to see done in return. Encourage more than your criticize.

Dave Willis marriage quotes quote disagreements disrespect optional

3. Find encouragement in healthy friendships.

When you’re feeling lonely in a marriage, it’s natural to seek encouragement from friends, but if you’re not careful, it can also be dangerous. Their “encouragement” can turn into a session of bashing your spouse or romanticizing divorce. Find encouraging friends, but make sure they’re healthy people who love you AND love your spouse too.

Dave Willis quote surround yourself with people who strengthen your character

4. Have faith.

Faith isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice to trust God even when life does’t seem to make sense. Through this lonely season, find comfort in the God who promises to never leave or forsake us and also promises to work all things together for our good. He will carry you through this, so choose to overcome this challenge by becoming better, not bitter.

Dave Willis quote quotes God's timing

If your marriage is in crisis, I’d also encourage you to check out the resources available at

For daily encouragement, please connect with me on Facebook by clicking here.

Also, check out my bestselling book, “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” which is now also available on iTunes as an ebook download for iPhones, iPads and all Apple devices (by clicking here).

If this post encouraged you, please share it on social media using the links below so we can encourage others too!

5 traits of good listeners


I used to think I was a good listener.

Being a “good listener” is one of those things most people think about themselves. We all believe we’re good drivers, good listeners, and have a good sense of humor, but listening is one of those areas where we don’t see our own blind spots. I learned this the hard way.


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