Marriage Builder - Stick to one model

Sep 28, 2007 at 9:29 p.m. ET

On his fiftieth wedding anniversary, Henry Ford was asked: "What is the formula for a good marriage?" His sage advice? "The same as for a successful car -- stick to one model." If you haven't made it to your fiftieth anniversary yet, then marriage experts Claudia and David Arp -- founders of Marriage Alive! -- want to encourage you to take Henry Ford's advice and stick to one model.

Finding stability
Even if you've been married previously, it is important to have the attitude of permanence and commitment in your present relationship. It's vital to the stability of the marriage. We observed both of our parents reaching their fiftieth wedding anniversary. We've been working on our marriage for over thirty-five years, but fifty years -- that that's a long time!

Over the years as we have observed marriages that made it to fifty, we've seen two important ingredients.

One is commitment. For these couples, divorce was never an option, so when problems came along, they had to work them out.

The second thing we observed is they valued their friendship. They worked at staying close. They were soul mates as well as lovers.

The marriage "game"
Some consider marriage a game -- even a gamble. One person put it this way: "Marriage is a gamble. You start with a pair. He shows a diamond. She shows a heart. Her father has a club. His father has a spade. There's usually a joker around somewhere, but after a while he becomes a king and she becomes a queen. Then they end up with a full house."

We laugh, but let's remember, marriage is a permanent game. If you want to win, never throw in your hand! Why not affirm your commitment to your mate today?