"With a wit that’s sharper than the rap of a gavel, wisdom gleaned from years on the bench and two decades of marriage, Judge Lynn Toler has been holding court on her nationally syndicated show since 2006. The graduate of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School has a smart take on just what it takes for couples to make it. Step inside her chambers to get her marital advice.

Do understand that marriage is not a state of being.

It is a process of building. Love is the foundation, but if that is all you have, then you have no protection from the elements—you know, all the stresses and strains of life, including children, money, jobs, relatives and differences in personality. You must erect a structure on that foundation of love to deal with all of that stuff. That takes work and planning.

Don’t rush to judgment, anger and blame. It is easy to see where other people are wrong; it’s harder to see your own mistakes clearly. You are so caught up in how you feel, you can’t step back and see what the problem really is. Watching the couples on Divorce Court allows me to see patterns of behavior I can quickly recognize in my own marriage, even when right in the middle of a conflict. So now I have installed a “pause button” that requires me to sit and do nothing before I do the wrong thing. This makes my husband take a breath as well. After initial anger, resentment or discomfort passes, clearer heads prevail. We are better able to address the issue as opposed to the emotions raised by that issue. It doesn’t always work, trust me. But it helps. "

Read more in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of EBONY Magazine.