Good vs. Well, and when to break the rules

Most people cringe at a grammar lesson. This is less about grammar and more about breaking the rules. In grade school, we learned that good is an adjective used to describe nouns and well is both an adverb used to describe verbs and an adjective used to describe nouns.

We say things like:

  • “Have a good day!”
  • “My child did well in school.”

We even swing both ways with how we use these two words. We say things like:

  • “I feel good today, after being sick last week.”
  • "I feel well, after being sick last week.”

or

  • “We have a good marriage.”

Do we really describe marriage on a scale of goodness? What if we broke the rules and said:

  • “We have a well marriage.”

It makes no sense on the surface. I bet you even cringed when you read that sentence. But if we substitute healthy for well, which is a legal substitution, it makes more sense. “We have a healthy marriage.”

Do we want a good marriage or a healthy marriage? What is a good marriage look like? Is there little or no conflict? Is there agreement in how finances are handled? Parenting beliefs? Is there alignment on values such as health, faith, integrity, and leisure time? I’m not saying those are bad things, I’m just teasing out some thoughts on what makes a good marriage.

What does a healthy marriage look like? The words that come to my mind initially include:

  • Communication – about finances, family, and food differences
  • Compromise
  • Trust – trusting the other’s heart to be for us, not against us
  • Grace for bad days and disappointments
  • Appreciation – for the differences, in gender, in passions, in priorities

I’m sure the list is longer, but you get the point. Do we want a good marriage or a well (healthy) one? I’m willing to break the rules and go for well.