This Article is About
marriage work
aunts and uncles
troubled marriage
great depression
fourteen years
big trouble
Make Your Marriage Work
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How can you make your marriage work? When I was a nineteen-year-old sergeant during the Korean War a forty-two-year-old HIspanic corporal who had just returned from fighting in Korea said that he was in big trouble with his marriage and that his wife was going to leave him. It may seem odd to you that an older man would ask for advice on a troubled marriage from a kid. But this man had spent his working life in the army and he had always asked sergeants for advice.

I listened to his story and I told him that it was all his fault, that he had alienated his wife. I told him that he would have to do a heck of a lot more for her than she did from him. I told him to start by helping with the dishes, vacuuming the floors, and hanging out the wash. I told him that he would have to court her again, sending her flowers, taking her out to dinner, and taking her to a movie every week.

After a couple of weeks the corporal came to me and said that everything his wife. She had turned from a nagging hag to his loving sweetheart. He was very grateful.

Now I wasn't married. The only thing I knew about marriage was what I learned from watching my parents who loved each other through the thick and thin of the depression. While financial problems destroy some marriages, their marriage was made stronger. They had never known wealth. Both were raised in poverty, my mother the daughter of a miner who moved the family from one mining town to another. My mother was born in a tent in Silver City, Utah. She had helped her mother raise her three younger sisters from the time her father died when she was fourteen-years-old. My father who was born over a saloon in Bountiful, Utah (now a historical site) had just moved "off the land," homesteading in Idaho and Utah. They had nothing but each other.

When they married in 1922, family members moved in with them including parents, cousins, aunts and uncles. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, that was the end of the last trace of financial stability. When I was a little boy I asked my mother who had made all the scratches in the kitchen door. She said that my father made the marks when in frustration he threw his jackknife into the door during the two years he was out of work.

When I was young I knew a lot about broken marriages. Many husbands hit the road, riding the rails, looking for any kind of work. These men use to come to our door looking for something to eat. They would walk two city blocks from the railroad tracks passed our neighbors right to our door. I knew our address was listed somewhere in the hobo jungle but I could never find it. Mother always fed the hobos until World War II ended the stream of men coming to our door. So many wifes had lost their husbands and were suffering horribly.

If the corporal had asked me how to handle a family dispute I would not have been able to answer him. My parents never argued. My parents were a couple of romantics who worshipped each other. The strains of the financial collapse did not divide them. If anything, it made them stronger.

The key to success in marriage is devotion. They say that each person should give 51 percent to his or her marriage. I told the corporal that he would have to give a lot more than that. My parents not only celebrated the day they were married, they celebrated the day that they first met. Dad always hugged mother when she was trying to prepare Sunday dinner. Romeo and Juliette.

Over the years I have written about family relationships to try to help others. You can find help from your church leaders, happily married friends, and marriage counselors. Sometimes just sitting down with your spouse and talking things out can resolve problems. Praying together helps too. So seek help to avoid divorce and more unhappiness. Stick in there!

Fly Old Glory!

Street Talk

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