Are You Ready for the Happily Ever After?

Plan Your Wedding, but Perfect Your Marriage

A Tip from a “Not-So-Perfect Husband”

by Michael Letney with Karen Hardin

Dear Bride-to-Be,

You are planning the wedding of your dreams, congratulations! After finding “Mr. Right,” everything about your wedding also needs to be right. It should be a day you will never forget in preparation for a lifetime together. But it is important in this flurry of activity to remember that after the candles are blown out, the tulle is tucked away and the runner rolled up, the real work begins. Your marriage deserves just as much loving care to detail and attention as your big day.

Great marriages don’t just happen. Trust me. I’ve been blessed with the most amazing wife, but it’s not because I have always been the most amazing husband. I’ve learned a very important lesson along the way about creating a great marriage that I would like to pass on to you as my personal wedding gift.

The art of a good marriage depends on the couple and their commitment to each other. Like the canvas of a painting, it is what you do with the paint on the canvas that makes it a beautiful picture. Love must be fed and nurtured, constantly renewed. It requires our attention. It also requires four key ingredients which I learned several years into my marriage with my wife, Barbie. These important ingredients are essential. They are transparency, truth, trust and unity.

Transparency requires that we are truthful with our mate. Truthfulness builds trust, which in turn, creates unity. The question is, how willing are you to be transparent and truthful with your mate?

Those four important ingredients were missing to some extent in my marriage at one time, not because I didn’t want to be truthful with my wife, but because in not being completely truthful about my business, our finances and the struggles I encountered, I felt I was protecting her. My intentions were good, even I felt at the time, honorable. After all, why stress her out with the knowledge that my business, which had experienced enormous growth and provided us a very comfortable lifestyle, was suddenly on the verge of financial collapse? Why worry her with the knowledge that we might lose our house and have to file bankruptcy? After all, I could still turn it around and she need never know. So I chose to remain silent, although she could see my stress. She knew something was wrong. Terribly wrong. But ultimately what was wrong wasn’t the crisis in my business, it was my actions. And it could have cost me my marriage.

Transparency. Truth. Trust. Unity. Four Ingredients that when mixed into the recipe of your marriage can provide a foundation so strong it can weather even the hardest of hits as you stand together in unity. This is where the paint is applied to the canvas of your marriage and the result is beautiful.

For a moment, I will be transparent with you and share that I learned the importance of these ingredients as my faithful wife stood with me through the tough times. This included not just one but two bankruptcies, a burglary that completely cleaned us out, the loss of our home, embarrassment over our loss, and months in which I walked through depression so thick it was like trudging through cement. During that season, she also became the primary breadwinner as I struggled to get back on top. If that weren’t enough, she held on after I received a diagnosis that could have resulted in my complete disability or death. Many women would have walked away. I’m grateful she stayed. Why? Because Barbie made a choice when we said “I do.”  That when it came down to “in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer,” when it was all put to the test, she had already made her decision the day we married. She chose us.

And I chose us.

I made the decision to change, to be completely transparent and truthful which created a deeper level of trust and unity than we had ever experienced. Transparency requires truth, which creates trust, which builds unity.

Everything in life is a choice. Barbie made the choice to stay. I made the choice to change and be transparent. To offer her all of me, not just what I wanted her to see. The result? A marriage to my best friend that is more amazing than we could have ever dreamed.

Marriage is a relationship. Relationships don’t just happen—they are built. It is a journey.

As you embark on your journey, may it be one that encompasses those important ingredients of transparency, truth and trust that creates unity. May you learn to live in strength and vulnerability with each other, hand in hand, doing life together rather than just two people living under the same roof, together but separate.

Perhaps someday, after the wedding, when life’s challenges hit, you may look at your decision of marriage and wonder, “Did I marry the right person?” You may question whether you should stay.

Motivational speaker and author, Zig Ziglar, who enjoyed a marriage that lasted sixty-five years until the death of his wife, was often asked about the longevity and strength of his relationship by some who questioned theirs. His response is worth repeating.

“I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.”[1]

So as your wedding day approaches, my personal gift to you, as you enter into the most sacred covenant of marriage, is to make the decision to include these four ingredients from the very beginning. Make the decision to be transparent and truthful, which will create trust that will ultimately develop a unity that can withstand the storms of life. The storms will come. But when you are in unity, you can weather them together.  How do I know? Because Barbie and I just celebrated our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary together. Our relationship is more than I could have ever dreamed and what I wish for you—that you will also experience a happily ever after.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Michael Letney is the founder and creator of The Unity Cross and Michael Letney Design Studios. His new book, Four Secrets to a Forever Marriage, will be released July 19. Receive a free e-book and free freight with our pre-release special offer only at: For additional information about Michael Letney and the Unity Cross go to: or

[1] Ziglar, Zig. Inspirational Marriage Quotes. (accessed Nov. 8, 2014)

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