Running into neighbors at a local restaurant last week, I mentioned that my husband and I were celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary. A young couple sitting at the next table overheard the conversation and said, “Congratulations! What’s the secret to being married for so long?” I jokingly wanted to say, “As you grow old together, you become blind and deaf.” Instead, I thought about the question and quickly replied, “Patience and compromise.” After I got home, I gave the matter more thought and concluded that there is no one secret to making a marriage last. It’s a hundred little things. Being married is work, hard work. And having been with my husband for 43 years, I can honestly say, it doesn’t get easier with time. Growing up and growing old together necessitate that you refocus and make adjustments along the way. I can’t speak for all couples, but the following elements and qualities helped us to have a long and happy marriage. Here is some additional advice for that young couple:
1. Patience and Balance
Yesterday, I received a Note from the Universe that read, “Maybe it’s not just about finding the perfect friend, partner, or tribe, but finding the perfection in those you’ve already found.” No one is perfect. Remember that the next time you feel exasperated with your partner. A little patience goes a long way. Together, my husband and I make a good team. Our personality traits compliment one another and we strive to balance our lives together, never letting any outside influence tip the scale.
2. The Four C’s: Communication, Consideration, Compromise, and Commitment
As a fiery Aries, I always keep the lines of communication open, whether my husband likes it or not. My general rule: do not build up emotional “walls” without “doors” to let someone in or without “windows” that allow conversation to flow. Be considerate of your partner’s feelings. Never make assumptions and try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Marriage is a partnership, not a corporation. There is always room for compromise. Commitment means more than just being in a relationship. It means you are committed to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work. You strive to work out problems and not retreat or escape from them. It means when the going gets tough, you get tougher and become each other’s stalwart supporter. It means you are committed to the well-being and happiness of your partner.
3. Respect and Trust
My parents, my siblings, and even my children got me by default. My husband is the only person who really chose me for me. I am eternally grateful that he chose me to love and that he respects me. I am mindful to respect his being and his rights as well. Trust must be earned. Once it’s broken, it’s extremely difficult to reestablish. Think twice before jeopardizing the gifts of your partner’s respect and trust.
4. Separate and Together
Yes, my husband is my soulmate, my partner in crime, my travel companion, my best friend, and the light of my life. That being said, do I need to spend every waking moment with him? No. Although we spend a lot of time together, we still need time apart to nourish our individuality. Allowing for individual growth makes us a happier couple.
5. Appreciation and Gratitude
We work hard at not taking each other for granted. Never a day goes by that we don’t express, in some form, our appreciation for one another. Life can change in the blink of an eye, so be grateful for that special person in your life.
The giant umbrella of love encompasses much. Love cannot exist without joy and happiness. Sparked by passion and compassion, it grows when nurtured by commitment and patience. It thrives on acts of kindness, consideration, and compromise. Love endures when built on a foundation of trust and respect. To have love in a marriage is to have all these things.
What advice would you give to the young couple?