How to avoid the 7 biggest deathbed regrets.

How to avoid the 7 biggest deathbed regrets. February 3, 2014

Today I had the privilege of sitting at the bedside of man who is nearing the end of his journey while holding the hand of the wife who has stood by his side for almost seven decades. After a lifetime of love and laughter, of trials and turmoils, of memories and milestones, it’s time for them to say “goodbye”.

Being in that moment with these two extraordinary individuals was surreal. It reminded me that this moment will one day come for us all. It’s important to think about the end, so that we will make the most of the present. That’s not just my opinion; that’s what the timeless wisdom of the Bible has to tell us:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12

Even if you’re blessed with seven decades together, it’s going to fly by! Don’t waste a minute of it. Here are some ways to make the most of every moment with your spouse so that when that moment comes, you can face it with no regrets. I believe these are seven things we’ll all wish we would have done more when we’re on our deathbed.

old couple hands

Photo courtesy of

In the end, these are the things we’ll wish we’d done more often with our spouse:

1. Be quick to forgive and to seek forgiveness.

Life’s too short to hold grudges and keep score of each other’s faults. Let grace flow freely in your marriage. It will lift a huge weight off your shoulders and theirs.

2. Don’t take each other for granted.

Recognize that every minute together is a gift, so treasure it. Don’t prioritize your hobby, your career or your possessions over your marriage and family. In the end, your relationships will be all that matters, so don’t wait until the end to make them your priority.

3. Laugh more.

Don’t take yourselves too seriously, but don’t take your commitments too lightly. Live life with conviction and purpose, but make plenty of room for fun. Laughter should be the soundtrack of your marriage.

4. Don’t hit the snooze button on your dreams.

If the two of you have dreams, don’t keep putting them off until “someday” gets here, because someday may never come unless you make it happen.

5. Realize that most the stuff you fight about isn’t worth fighting over.

Fight for each other, but never fight against each other. In every disagreement, remember that your relationship with your spouse is much more important than whatever you’re arguing about.

6. Remember that romance has no expiration date! 

So many marriages start out strong and then slowly fade until there’s nothing left, but it isn’t supposed to be that way! Through all the seasons of your life, continue to purse each other, love each other, encourage each other and treasure every moment together. If you’ve already fallen out of those habits, start today and begin again!

7. Realize that “Goodbye” doesn’t have to be the end.

As I prayed with this couple today, I was moved by their unshakable hope in Jesus and the peace their faith brought to them in that moment. That same hope can be yours, and I can tell you from experience, it changes everything.

For more tools to build a rock-solid relationship, please watch my video on How to have a Stronger Marriage and check out our bestselling book, iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage which is now also available for download on iPhones and iPads.

For daily encouragement, please connect with me on twitter.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Rudy Nunez


  • Amazing and so true !!!!

  • sylvia ivey

    Love it

  • Dina Ali

    The one and foremost regret should be for this question to be answered. What did you do for the hereafter? Did we own up to saying & believing there is only one god and prophet Muhammad is his messenger & pray, fast, give charity. That’s what really matters for the life that is going to last forever rather than this life that is only going to last so many years.

  • Renae Cullen

    Thank you so much for sharing this! It was an on time word for myself. My husband & I were just speaking that we needed to get back what we had. We are best friends that laugh a lot but that’s all. We want more!

  • Andrea

    I loved this article about marriage! Awesome!

  • Cindy

    I love this! Its true… I want to do this.. I know sometimes its hard to not fight for some things that are insignificant, but what happens when we feel insecure?

    I know that’s why we should communicate and not keep things to ourselves

  • AshMarsh

    Love these!

  • Martha Alfaro

    Hello Dave and Ashley,

    Thank you for all your posts, videos and books. Now more than every couples are needing advice and guidance in their marriages. I have a marriage of over 35 years and still find your words most helpful.

    May God continue speaking to us through you both.


  • yolanda

    Looking at #4…are those our individual dreams or our together dreams? My husband is chasing his dream but it is destroying me and us.

  • yolanda

    Or does that go back to #2?

  • I really needed to find this

  • Laura Despain

    You always have solid advice. This one is another one. Lost my spouse at a young age, him 29 and me 30 in a work accident. This is spot on. Time is definitely so precious. Thanks for sharing!

  • Rhonda

    No. 5 — Best advice I ever received —

    ” If ‘IT” isn’t going to matter two years from now, it’s not worth fighting about today”.

  • sherry cross


  • Good solid advice. (Laura – I’m sorry for your loss.) I pray this touches many hearts and lives. It did mine. Thank you.

  • Beautiful! So true.

  • Jeffry Brown

    Certainly something to think about.

  • Marie Torres

    Amen. Aleluya and PRAISE the Lord. That is a beautiful testimony of a couple of true believers. I pray that when our time comes in our marriage, that our hearts be filled with the expectation of Heaven and the fulfillment of this life in JESUS name.


    It is the truth-cherish every moment and stay focused on our Lord and savior Jesus.

  • Michael Underhile

    Thank you so much for all your post. It is a blessing. It has helped me in my marriage. plus it is wonderful study material.

  • evelyn

    God is beautiful and this makes me not only appreciate life, but my husband who I love with all my heart

  • godson

    My wife is very admant all the time, she is not respecting elders and my mom, she has a revenge kind of attitude, finding faults, rude and never regrets for her doings , but she reads bible daily and prays daily, am confused about her behaviour and mental state

  • Barb Waddle

    Thank you Jesus for the cross and hope in your complete work. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  • Millie Touchstone

    Also agree. After seeing the loss of my parent one passing before the other, the loneliness that Slappy home also I know we shall meet again in heaven one day make each day on earth that God is giving you count when it comes to love. Being married myself 38 years to a wonderful man, we will pass with regret things we should’ve never said to each other and things that weren’t worth fussing about and love that we’ve missed not saying good night. Pray to God in heaven to give you a Christlike love in your heart and salvation know your destination when you do pass that’s the main goal in life but then to love each other as Christ would have us to do !

  • Zee

    So true. Amen…

  • God, spouse, and family is all that truly matters.

  • Sandra Martin Hartness

    I have waited 50 years. For the love of my life. And. For the next days we have left. I want to make up for loss time. And spend them with him as if they have been another 50 but. Together. I love. My. David

  • Darrell

    That’s right….One GOD… The one you or I believe in…yours may be different from mine. I will personally answer to my God and you to your god….

  • Jewel

    My marriage is suffering as well in this area, Yolanda. I’ll lift your marriage up in prayer, believing God will heal and restore our relationships.