Tuesday, May 31, 2005

How We Achieved Forty Years of Marriage

See addenda below! When people ask: "To what do you attribute your long marriage?" I usually answer "Inertia". There is more truth to that than might initially meet the eye, but it is only one of the reasons.
Firstly, when you agree to wed, you must believe that you are marrying a friend, with whom you can not only tolerate spending the rest of your life, but with whom you will be contented. Most of us 'think' that at the time, but a firm belief is required, in my opinion, which suggests that you have really thought about it before deciding to accept the proposal. It is desirable to have ideals in common, as well as similar thoughts on how to conduct your finances, religious preferences and raising your children. One should talk about these things beforehand.
Secondly, you must be dedicated to staying married. If your idea of marriage is "Oh, well, if it doesn't work out - we'll just get a divorce", then your future will surely hold that as a prospect, if not a fact. A firm resolve to make it work is to be desired above all.
Thirdly, compromise is the watchword for a successful relationship (marriage or otherwise). If one of you is so self-centered as to insist on always having things your way, the relationship is doomed to failure, or to a hellish existence if you stay together. (I can hear my husband laughing as he reads that - assuming I let him!). Remember that a marriage is seldom a 50-50 proposition. It is often 90-10, or 30-70, and the larger number will not always be on your side. Learn to live with that.
Fourthly, a sense of humor is a necessity, as is a willingness to say "I am sorry" and show that you mean it.
The caveat: All of the above flies out the window if you are being verbally or phyically abused. No one should stay in a relationship where there is not a true spirit of love, respect and compassion for the other person. Try counselling, or anger management if need be, but do not allow yourself to feel trapped in a marriage where you are not respected. If you have any idea that you have made a mistake in your choice of spouse, do not bring a child into the world expecting that to magically solve all your troubles, for it will only compound them.
I am no expert (again my husband is laughing!), but these are ideas that have worked for us. My husband and I were fortunate to be the children of parents who also stayed married a long time, and that certainly works in our favor.
An additional note: Do not let this lead you to thinking it was all a bed of roses; I can assure you it was anything but! We had hard times, slammed doors, shouting matches (which happen nowadays too) and there were periods when due either to his work travel or a shared intractability, we hardly spoke to each other. But the initial vows we made were not forgotten, and we were still committed to each other and to the marriage.
I neglected to tell you one of the more interesting aspects ofit all: we met in January of 1964 and married in early July of 1964. We hardly knew each other, really. I don't recommend that you marry so swiftly, but since I did, I can hardly set up parameters for you, can I?

15 comments:

Angie said...

When I married at 19 I believed it was forever. I was married 14 years. I would probably still be married to him if he had not looked at me one morning and said, "I have never loved you." I do not regret my past, nor do I wish it had never happened. I have 2 beautiful children and in many ways I think it prepared me to be the woman Steven needs. This time it is forever. I believe it and so does he. It is a far different marriage than the one before it, for both of us.

Christine said...

Some really sound advice there! I think sometimes you go into a marriage with all of those things, committed wholly to the marriage but you find out that you were the only one. I married someone who wanted to slot someone into his own life and keep things comfortably his way and was happy to let me make the major compromises. I think sometimes you have to know when to walk away.

I am still hopeful though. Sad that it didn't work out the way I hoped and dreamed but not jaded by the ending of it. There is somone out there who will be a best friend and true partner. Here's to the future! =)

Melissa said...

Great advice! Your courtship was longer than the Kenney Chesney/Renee Zellwegger (sp) one though, so cut yourself some slack...lol

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You're "no expert"? Ah, but I think you are. That's the sagest advice anyone could get, or give.

MommaK said...

Your words are oh-so-wise and ring very clear to me. My husband and I met only months before we eloped when I was a very young 21. We have been married almost 11 years now and know compromise all to well. Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom.

And thanks for getting my joke over at Michele's:-)

Hope said...

My inlaws just celebrated their 64th anniversary, my parents are going on their 56th. I would not have stayed married to any of them for 5 minutes, go figure. Sometimes it really is just a matter of luck in finding the right person. I got so lucky. We are very different people, we knew each other less than 6 months, and just celebrated 27 years. People think marriage changes a person, well it should because you never know what life throws at you. Happy Anniversary, and I think your husband is a lucky guy, you have a terrific sense of humor.

Shaar said...

The hubby and I have been married 23 years and I'm only 42. We got married exactly 2 days before our first son was born. Not a great way to begin. There were many struggles along the way and I can't say that I took into consideration any of those things you listed above. I wasn't really even considering getting married to be honest, it just sort of happened in a moment of hormone hell. I would have to say the one thing that has seen us through is acceptance, patience, forgiveness and space. We grew up together and gave each other the space to do that, we still do. In growing seperately we grew in what we brought to the relationship. I can't say it's always thrived but so far we're still together and still committed to what we set out to do 23+ years ago - grow old together.

Cyn said...

I can really relate to this post. I've been married to the same man for 36 years. None of our family members were present at our wedding and they said it wouldn't last. We had all strikes against us, but what we had was love and determination. Congratulations on your anniversary.

Heather said...

Great post. Very well-stated and all true. My ninth anniversary is coming up this month. My hubby was 19 and I was 21 when we got married. We love and respect each other and wake up feeling blessed every morning!

vicki said...

This is a wonderfully smart, concise and thoughtful post. And I couldn't agree with you more on all fronts (and comment by Hoss). It took a Mulligan on my part but now I'm so contentedly into every day, ordinary married life- there's nothing better. Thanks.

Lisa said...

Hi Judy!
Michele sent me! What a great blog you have and congrats on such a long and happy marriage. That's great!
Lisa

Erica said...

Hi Judy -
This is an excellent post. I have been married for almost 10 years now, and my husband and I both come from broken families. In fact, my mom is on her 4th marriage, and my dad is on his 3rd; my in-laws are also on 3rd marriages. Yet THEIR parents are almost all still married, close to 60 years in some cases. My husband and I strive to follow our grandparents' example - they still are in love, and still drive each other crazy, and just belong together. We've had a great time so far, even with two kids in the mix. It's NOT all a bed of roses all the time, but it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. And you're right - you shouldn't begin a marriage assuming that if it doesn't work out, you can "just" get a divorce. Marriage should be respected as the serious and valuable institution that it is. I know that sounds old-fashioned, but I believe it!

Pearl said...

Great tips. I'm copying to file for ease to find to reread.

Dangerous Mind said...

Great post!

I agree you have to be committed to the marriage for it to work, and really believe in the "till death do us part". And not think it was "...till I find someone better......."

My wife and I have been married just over 10 years, and knew each other for even less time than you & your husband.

Wilena said...

We celebrated 49 years in March and we went together two years before we were married so we have put up with each other for 51 years. We didn't always agree on everything but all in all it has been a good marriage. We have three children and when they where little I would tease my husband and say that if he ever wants a divorce thats OK but you are getting the kids and I will be the one out running around having a good time. Needless to say divorce was never mentioned......LOL