Bookworm: 'Making Marriage Work'

One of your friends dropped a bombshell the other day: she’s getting divorced.


You almost can’t believe it. She and her man seemed like the perfect couple, always so sweet together, always so understanding. It’s sad, and it’s scary because she’s not your first friend to announce a break-up.

So what’s going on? More importantly, how can you make sure it doesn’t happen to you and your beloved? In the new book Making Marriage Work by Judge Lynn Toler, you’ll find tough words on a tender situation.

“Why can’t people stay married anymore?”

That’s what everybody asks Toler. As the star of TV’s Divorce Court, she sees a lot of broken marriages, so it’s a good question.

To get an answer, says Toler, we must understand that the marriage we idolize and hold as ideal never really exists. We’ve romanticized unions that endured without understanding the real reason for the longevity. Furthermore, marriage itself has changed and “What worked 50 years ago won’t work now.”

The thing to remember, says Toler, is that you can look at the divorce rate and shake your head, but the problem is local. You don’t have to “fix the world.” You just have to fix your marriage.

To do that, you need to know the rules. Decide, first of all, to consciously be married. Don’t have a “Plan B” in your relationship. Find reasons to stay together and nurture “common passions.”

If you’re not yet married but want to divorce-proof your relationship, spend time learning about one another. You put months into planning your wedding, so put months into learning who you are and who your spouse-to-be is. Know the red flags and the reasons not to wed. Learn what your “odd things” are, and decide if you can live with your partner’s oddities.

Lastly, wait. What’s the hurry?

If you’re already married, practice your communication skills. Be kind, don’t use sarcasm, and watch for things that don’t get said. Never say “okay” if you don’t mean it. Become financially literate and don’t let your money leak out. Also, remember that marriage counseling is not just a last-ditch effort because, when it comes to marriage, a check of it for the heck of it is never a bad idea.

Common sense? Yes, no, and probably. But when a relationship is frayed at the edges, Making Marriage Work is a good reminder.

Using her own marriage (and its troubles) as an example, Toler subtly lets readers know that having marital problems isn’t anything shameful or abnormal, and they are fixable.

In this book, she looks at how a marriage bruises, then she offers solid advice for newlyweds, golden anniversary celebrants and everybody in-between. Toler hints that the work is never done but the rewards can be worth the effort.