A Guide to Marriage, Courtesy of Robin Thicke

Amid all the jokes and the criticism of the singer over his desperate appeals to his wife, Paula Patton, to save their marriage are four lessons that can teach everyone something about marital bliss.

Actress Paula Patton and singer Robin Thicke arrive at the 82nd annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre (now called the Dolby Theatre) on March 7, 2010, in Hollywood, Calif.  

John Shearer/Getty Image

Pay attention to what Robin Thicke has been saying, not singing. Forget about the lyrics, the new album and his recent antics. Instead, listen to what he’s been saying about his marriage, and what you’ll hear is a man putting on a master class in what not to do if you want to hold on to the person you love.

Here are four things he’s said in recent interviews that are revealing, instructive and timely for anyone in a relationship:

1. “I knew exactly what I had.”

This was Thicke’s response when asked whether he only realized how special Patton was after the two separated. I commend him for his answer. You often hear people say, “I didn’t know what I had until it was gone.” Truth is, we know what we have. But we usually don’t appreciate and cherish what we have, and take for granted that it will always be there.  We’ve all been guilty of this a time or two in our lives, and it can cost us mightily. It cost Thicke his family.

The lesson: If you want to hold on to the person you love, let him or her know it through your words and actions before he or she walks out the door for good.

2. “How can we work this out when we’re never even together, and there’s no one even there to hold on to. That’s what happens when … your careers take you all over the world and you’re apart all the time.”

Your career might not take you all over the world, but many couples can relate to what Thicke is saying here. Work and career demands put a strain on many relationships.     

Thicke says he and Patton weren’t “together enough.”  Her blossoming movie career and his music career—highlighted by a breakout year in 2013—pulled them in two different directions. That can happen to anyone, no matter her or his profession.   

Thicke’s statement gave me pause when I heard it, and I immediately looked at a calendar and realized that my wife (a lawyer) and I haven’t had a day off together in more than a month because of the demands on both of our careers. Yet I’ve managed to make time to sneak away to watch the World Cup on several occasions in the past month. I could have used that time to take her to lunch or just stop by her office to say hello.

Yes, work realities present relationship challenges, but we also make decisions every day to neglect our partners.   

The lesson: You have to make a conscious effort to find time for each other. Don’t concede to being “apart all the time.” If you do, the outcome is inevitable.