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10 Marriage Advice Lessons Gary Smalley Gave Us

marriage advice from Gary Smalley for a bride and groom

I’m so grateful for the marriage advice from author and speaker Gary Smalley before his death at the age of 75. Known for his passion regarding marriage and relationships, Smalley was the author of more than 60 books, several of them best-sellers, including the popular titles, “Making Love Last Forever” and “If He Only Knew.”

A frequent guest on Focus on the Family’s daily radio broadcast, he also helped found the National Institute of Marriage in Missouri, now run by the marriage and family ministry. It is also where his son, Greg Smalley is the vice president of marriage ministries.

Focus on the Family President Jim Daly commented on Smalley’s passing. “To us at Focus on the Family, Gary was also a friend. We partnered with him in developing marriage resources and welcomed him on our broadcast more than 50 times. I always enjoyed recording programs with Gary. As staff members share their behind-the-scenes experiences with Gary today, I can’t help but nod in agreement: Gary was as gracious and witty in person as he was in his professional capacity.”

For more than 40 years, Gary Smalley shared countless stories and pieces of advice on how to strengthen communication, marriage, and relationships within families. In honor of his passing, here are ten quotes that highlight his practical, winsome wisdom.

Marriage Advice on Honoring Others

When we honor someone, we give that person a highly respected position in our lives. Honor goes hand in glove with love, a verb whose very definition is doing worthwhile things for someone who is valuable to us.

honor: marriage advice from Gary Smalley

Honor is a way of accurately seeing the immense value of a person made in God’s image. God created each one of us a one-of-a-kind person with unique gifts and a unique personality. He sees each of us as precious and valuable because He sees the innate worth He built into us.

Marriage Advice on Loving Your Wife

Thank your wife. Thank her for getting your attention through such a courageous act. Thank her for not tolerating your unloving behavior any longer and for sending you on a course of learning how to become a better husband and father. As you express thanks to your wife, you take a major step in winning her back.

Ask Christ to reveal what your wife needs, where she is hurting, and how she is hurting. Seek His help to identify with her pain and understand your wife better. Ask Him to help you become the man He longs for you to be.

Marriage Advice on Healthy Relationships

We can choose how we will participate in relationships; we have no choice about whether we will participate in them.

choices: marriage advice from Gary Smalley

You have a choice about how you react when someone pushes your fear button. No one else controls how you think. No one else controls how you react. You alone do that.

Marriage Advice on Parenting

Children desperately need to know – and to hear in ways they understand and remember – that they’re loved and valued by Mom and Dad.

affirming words: marriage advice from Gary Smalley

Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.

Marriage Advice on Marriage

A safe marriage is one in which each partner loves the other simply because he or she needs it.

marriage advice on safe marriage

When two persons can share from the very center of their existence, they experience love in its truest quality. Marriage is a venture into intimacy, and intimacy is the opening of one self to another.

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Carrie Kintz is a freelance writer and communication strategist. She works with ministries and individuals across the country, helping them figure out what to say and how to say it in the digital space. Carrie has also spoken at conferences such as the Best of Social Media Summit and That Church Conference. When she's not writing (or tweeting), she enjoys hiking, time with friends and a good cup of coffee