Marriage & Family

If you knew then what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself about getting married and raising a family?

These statistics probably don’t need reciting again, but for every two marriages performed in the U.S. in recent years, there was one divorce. Clearly, marriage is not a game for the risk-averse and yet most of us give it a try. Or two. Or three.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans tie the knot at least one time, despite the odds. While that’s down a bit from the 85 percent marriage rate when Harvard Business School’s Class of 1963 graduated, their success at picking a mate is truly enviable. In a 2013 study, more than 70 percent of the 1963 grads were still with their first spouse — a fortunate break from the patterns of the population at large.

Because the members of the Class of 1963 have a bit of a golden touch at getting and staying married, it won’t surprise you that many of them say no decision in their lives was more important or more worth getting right.

While you might argue that these classmates don’t have the golden touch at getting and staying married, they are unified in their feeling that no decision in their lives was more important, or more worth getting right.

Still, their family lives weren’t always perfect, and it’s heartbreaking to read the recollections of the grads who put their marriages and family life at peril through a litany of bad habits — alcoholism and workaholism, primarily. As a class, they would implore you to choose your life partner with the utmost care, and then put that partnership above everything else.

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Still, their family lives weren’t always perfect, and it’s heartbreaking to read the recollections of the grads who put their marriages and family life at peril through a litany of bad habits — alcoholism and workaholism, primarily. As a class, they would implore you to choose your life partner with the utmost care, and then put that partnership above everything else.

Dick Resch
My one big mistake in life has been providing a trust fund for my five children. I’m very comfortable paying for an education for as long as they want to study in a reputable university. However, providing additional funds so they could have a lifestyle beyond what they have achieved on their own was a mistake.

Charley Ellis
Make family life your first priority. Marry someone you admire and are always learning from, who admires and learns from you. Help each other grow and share values, plans, experience, laughs, and time together.

Warren Batts
Your children are your legacy. Give them unconditional love within a framework that teaches them your values but also allows them to be who they are. Spend as much time with them as possible. Time spent when they are young is like money in a piggy bank: don’t expect them to spend time with you when you are old if you did not invest in them when they were young.

Henry Thomas
As for family matters, I can be very brief and to the point: Happy wife, happy life.

Barbara Minto
Marriage is not necessarily the best solution for everyone.

Donald P. Nielsen
Marriage is an 80–20 partnership, on both sides. If you each understand that, you always go out of your way to please your spouse. When both partners do that, you have a happy marriage.
The greatest gift you can give your children is to love one another.

Paul Rosenbaum
The two most important decisions one makes in life are where you go to school and whom you choose to marry. All else follows from these choices.

While there are several obvious traits to be sought in a spouse — mutual love, attractiveness, and intelligence — one overlooked but important quality is kindness. Marriage brings both shared happiness and challenges. Kindness allows both parties to understand and empathize with each other as they mutually solve the issues that enter their lives.

Another important element is religion. The couple-to-be should discuss in advance of marriage what religion they will observe and what religious practices they will maintain when they marry, and especially when they have children.

Gerald (Jerry) Wolin
When raising children, make sure they grow up to be independent. Too many of us want to make life easy on our kids and save them from anguish. That is not always the best course of action.

Henry A. Gilbert
Children pay most attention to what you say with your feet, rather than your mouth.

Wilko Börner
Even though I am satisfied with — and worked hard for — my professional career, family demands on my time always had priority. This may have restricted my business success, but I have no regrets.

I have seen many people proudly create products, organizations, buildings, and fortunes. Most of these works have not outlasted the people who created them. I am fairly confident my family will continue as a healthy and confident structure for much longer.

Ralph Linsalata
• Tell your spouse and children that you love them every day, no matter how you feel.
• Do not bring your problems home with you.
• Realize the joy that comes from helping your spouse and children excel in their fields of interest and enjoy themselves.
• Develop within your family a sense of obligation to help others.
• Spending quality time with your family — not just time — is critical.
• Choose a spouse who will understand and support you, and one for whom you will do the same. Life is much better if you can help each other grow and expand your knowledge, experiences, friends, and capabilities.

Bob Griffin
I believe the most significant barrier to a healthy, happy family is the combination of self-will, a sense of authority rather than partnership and respect, and a reluctance to express forgiveness. The qualities of respectful communication, trust, patience, and an abundance of flexibility will lead to a family life of happiness and mutual love, even through the tough times.

Norman Barnett
Marry when you and your prospective spouse know who you are and what work you will do. Make sure you each are willing to support the other in having the life you each want.

Paul G. Hines
This is not easy. It takes commitment, time set aside for family fun and relationships, and an ability to rise from the ashes when things don’t work out the first time around.

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