5 Words That Saved a Marriage

How One Husband Convinced His Wife to Give Him a Second Chance

I can’t tell you how many readers write and ask, “My spouse doesn’t want to be married anymore. What can I do to stop my spouse from leaving?” These emails pain my heart because I have so little advice on the matter. That’s why I’m thrilled to bring you this guest post from Alex Blackwell, the creator of The Bridge Maker and author of the recently released Saying Yes to Change. It should be obvious that I’m a big fan of Alex and his writing. I blurbed the back of his book. I believe everyone should buy and read it. I’ll tell you why tomorrow. For now, here’s how Alex saved his marriage.

My marriage to Mary Beth has seen the extremes over the last 27 years. In 2003, it was about to end. My focus had become too much on myself and on what I needed. My wife and children were somewhere in the background. It took the shock of seeing the people I loved becoming so unhappy to startle me into changing.

Motivated to save our marriage, I enrolled in a spiritual and personal transformation seminar, BreakThrough. It was at this seminar I realized that if my heart was to connect with my wife’s heart, then it was up to me to make the connection. I had withheld my affection for too long. So, I dug in and worked hard to begin making the changes that our marriage needed.

Mary Beth’s heart was touched by the changes she was beginning to see and she gave me a second chance – and we haven’t looked back since.

Five Simple Words

I love this blog (thanks for having me Alisa!).  Most of the articles here obviously come from a wife’s perspective, so I’ve decided to write the rest of this article exclusively from a husband’s point of view.

Gentlemen – it’s never too late to save or improve your marriage. All it takes is the awareness to do it. So guys, it’s my pleasure to share a husband’s perspective, my perspective, and five simple words that may save your marriage, too.


Respect your wife. Give her the freedom to grow and build a life that doesn’t include you. Allow her to see the wonderful gifts inside of her and then celebrate as your wife shares these with the world. Respect the love she gives you. Soak it in. Let it cover you with its sweetness. Understand this is the best gift she can give anyone. Honor her gift with your love and fidelity – always.


Give without expecting anything in return. Give because your heart says to give. Give her the best you have to offer. When she asks what’s on your mind, give her an honest answer. When she needs comfort, give her more than she expects. When she needs to lift her head to see her mistakes, give her a tender nudge and then get out of the way. Give her a safe place to cry and to be weak. Give her the chance to be whoever she wants to be.


Share everything. From the last piece of cake to monitoring your children’s homework, take an active, equal role in the marriage. Resentment begins with a soft whisper before growing into a more demonstrative outburst. To share a life, the things in it must be shared too.


From the odd quarks to her radiance, and everything in between, enjoy your wife. Take her in. Watch as she sleeps, as she brushes her hair, as she sits next to you thumbing through a magazine. Watch her elegance, her tenderness and her expressions of joy, suspense, anger and fear. Bottle these moments in your mind and take them out whenever you want to enjoy a dose of her amazing beauty.


Managing finances, raising children, building a career, relocating, enduring a crisis, all contribute to the challenges every marriage faces. There’s only one way for marriages to thrive despite these circumstances: Persistence. Be persistent during the times when it feels like the light is being consumed by the dark; remain faithful and believe the good will eventually trump the bad; never give up when you feel like everything you are building is about to fall.

And what’s the source for this hope? Love.

Surrender to love.

Fall back into it and take your wife with you.

Alex Blackwell is the Founder of The BridgeMaker. His first book, Saying Yes to Change: 10 Timeless Life Lessons for Creating Positive Change is now available on Amazon. Connect with Alex on Facebook.

READERS: I neglected –one again — to pick a reader of the month in April. So here’s the deal. I have a $50 gift card to give away from Rental Car Choices. I will give it to one person who comments on this post by the end of the day Friday. Tell me: What are your marriage saving words? What words, qualities, and actions are important in saving a marriage and keeping it strong?


16 comments… add one

  • Livivua Chandler May 1, 2012, 8:48 am

    My marriage saving words are “I apologize and/or I understand”. Thinking about being in my place during my time of need as in “what if this was happening to me or what if I was feeling like this” and then talking to me about it to gain more understanding of me and why I/ he/ we are in this space at this time.

  • sara l May 1, 2012, 9:13 am

    My marriage saving words that spring to mind are “appreciate” and “don’t personalize” and “patience” and “take a breath” and probably most importantly, “give the benefit of the doubt”.


  • Tiffany May 1, 2012, 1:06 pm

    I simply adore his advice to “Give her the freedom to grow and build a life that doesn’t include you.” This of course also goes for women and their husbands but it is sooo very important. You need that time to find out what you are passionate about and what makes life worth living for you. This may feel threatening to a spouse or make them feel as though they are “losing” you but they have to believe that you will love them even more than you already did because they gave you wings to fly. That whole wind beneath my wings thing is so true!
    Tiffany´s last blog post ..10 Things You Can Do Every Day to Get Happy and Stay Healthy

  • Liessa May 1, 2012, 7:45 pm

    Saving words…it’s ironic because in the end it is less the “words” that save a marriage and more the “actions” . My saving words are less words….more actions.

  • anon May 1, 2012, 10:12 pm

    I don’t know why the author felt the need to write the words from the male perspective only. It seems to me that with a few tweaks, this could have been universalized to any member of a couple.
    Hate to say it, but I was left thinking, “Ok, what’s she going to do for HIM?”

    • Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker May 2, 2012, 5:39 am


      I opted to take a husband’s perspective because I thought it would be fun to do on Alisa’s blog (she’s a wife; and I’m a husband). To your point, the five words can apply to both.

      Regarding what she does for me, the answer: She is my biggest cheerleader, best friend and she is the one who sees the best in me on the days that I don’t. What does she do for me? She loves me just the way I am – and that’s more than enough.

      Thanks for commenting,


  • Angie May 2, 2012, 1:37 am

    The key word for me is “appreciation.”
    Angie´s last blog post ..Mommy Blog: Obligatory Halloween Post

  • Angela P. May 2, 2012, 8:40 am

    This was a powerful posting for me. I have been struggling in my marriage lately and wondering if it is worth staying. I think the biggest thing lacking in my marriage is the respect. My husband was very disrespectful to me and my family and it hurt me deeply. He has apologized and I owe him the respect to let it drop.

    I also like persist. My best friend from college called me over the weekend and asked me if she should get married like I did. (I eloped instead of spending the money to have a big wedding). My advice to her was to go ahead and elope, save the money for a new house. She also asked me how it was to be married. I told her marriage is a lot of work and probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Now seeing this posting I don’t think I would call marriage work. I would rather say you have to persist.

    So I am going to say respect and persist are to of the important words in my marriage.

  • Dinky May 2, 2012, 8:46 am

    My marriage saving words are ‘I hear you’ without being followed with ‘BUT’!

    • Karen May 2, 2012, 9:17 pm

      I agree, Dinky. I have never heard that.

  • Rosemary May 2, 2012, 9:34 am

    “Persist” says it for me. Don’t give up until you have tried everything. Everything.
    Rosemary´s last blog post ..The Heart of Romance

  • Rose Byrd May 4, 2012, 1:40 pm

    Alex, I have read your story of how you and MaryBeth revitaized your marriage and how happy you are now. I really appreciate your five words and your ending with the advice to “surrender to love.” Whether in one’s spiritual, community, parental, career, or married life, truly surrendering to love is THE ticket!
    Rose Byrd´s last blog post ..“……you mean we get to REST?”

  • Alisa May 9, 2012, 9:12 am

    Livivua Chandler– You won the gift card! I’ll be in touch by email to find out where to send it.

  • Jennifer December 21, 2012, 1:41 am

    When I feel loving, let ‘er rip, I can’t ‘love’ wrong. Save restraint for those times I feel less than loving, this is the time imposing calm upon myself and seeking understanding of the unknown. But when it’s love that I feel, I let it all out, ride the wave. There’ll be time enough for other feelings. I allow myself to enjoy feeling loving, now.

  • Monica April 9, 2014, 2:10 pm

    My boyfriend of four years left me for another woman. I made a lot of mistakes in the relationship because of my temper. He is a very resented person. I love him with all my heart is very painful to know that he is with another person. I don’t know what to do to bring him back to my life since he is happy with the other woman and doesn’t have the intention to leave her. My heart is broken and I don’t know how to make him understand how much I love him and how much I regret my past actions. Please help me to get him back.

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