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Friday, 10 August 2007

How We Achieved 40 Years of Marriage

By kenju of Imagine What I'm Leaving Out

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 physically 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 counseling, 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 of it 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?

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


That's a pretty good recap, Kenju. I always wonder about the relationships when I'm told, "We never had a disagreement in all those years!"

May be something to be said for never going to sleep at night angry with each other. Easier said than done sometimes.

There's much to be said for commitment, especially when one or the other spouse has health problems that can alter the personality a bit, and not always for the better.

We were married three months after our first date. Like you, I don't recommend such a short courtship either. But, just seemed like we had known each other forever, unlike any other relationship we each had ever had. I was in my late twenties and he was in his early thirties. He died on our wedding day and date, but exactly two months before our 43rd wedding anniversary. Who's to say what works.

Good one, Judy! I think what you've said here is good and pretty dang true.

Such good, real words. I met my husband in June 1969, he proposed Nov. 1969, we married 1970. For the next ten years, I tried to change everything that drew me to him, his quiet strength, his lack of flowery words, his rare compliments. In that 10th year, the light bulb went off, (I am a good student but it does take me some time!) and all of those qualities that I wished would change, became and always were, the real deal. Soon it will be 38 years and we celebrate those things that are our differences as well as cherish those things that are the same. Going on this journey of discovery that we have embarked upon to see and live across the country, he is the best traveling companion, the best guide and the most fun person that I could ever want on these jaunts through landscape and heartscape.


A beautiful post Judy....

Too true, too true!

An excellent template for choosing the right partner and for making a marriage work. All young people contemplating marriage should get, and heed, this advice.

My wife and I had two "dates" before we married. She was the girl next door who, despite my rude dismisals, kept popping up in my life, eventually through a mutual sharing of letters during my early overseas naval tour. We managed to survive the first seven years a actually "getting to know what marriage was all about" and an acceptance of Christ into our union finally solved many things. This is our 44th annual journey together through what life brings unto us. Three daughters, six grandchildren, and she remains the best truth that ever happened to me...


I LOVED your story.Especially the part about having a sense of humor.
We have had many bad experiences in 57 years of marriage but both of our sense of humors pulled us through.
Once , we were moving and the van was all packed up and the 4 kids and Roy and myself were all farmed out to various neighbors for a bath and clean cloths so we could be on our way. I had given all kids and himself a full set of clean clothes to put on. I just slipped into my neighbors bathtub to relax for a few minutes when the phone rang and it was Roy complaining that I had not given him any undershorts.I was FURIOUS! I had to leave the tub to speak to him and when he heard how angry I was he said," O.K. don't be mad. I'll cut the crotch out of the pair I've been wearing for 2 days."I had to laugh and the anger was gone.

Then, once I had a huge bowl of spaghetti sauce I had made and had in the front of the frig. I TOLD him not to touch it so ,of course, he touched it and knocked it all over the ceramic tile kitchen floor.Broken bowl and sauce everywhere. I was so angry and he was so unnerved and afraid of what I was going to say,I actually felt sorry for him and broke the tension by doing a " Stan Laurel", scratching the top of my head and saying "A fine mess you've got us in."
So, that's how we've managed all these years together,still happy and laughing all the way.

True. Oh, so true. I wish this could be passed on to every young couple out there contemplating marriage.

I especially liked the part about not expecting a bed of roses. It seems too many people these days run to divorce court at the first weed in the garden.

My parents were so upset about our short engagement and youth, that we HAD to make our marriage succeed! There was no way I could go running home to mama, or admit I'd made an impulsive choice.

In the early years of adjustment and troubles we just plowed through, and determined to be happy. We were. After 38 years, with continued adjustment and troubles we've realized that's how life is. We're just lucky to have each other as a best friend to experience it all with.

Your story could be our story, but we are one year ahead of you. I'm rather like Travelinoma — too stubborn and proud to admit to a mistake early on. That's not always a negative quality.

After 44 years, I can't imagine starting again to break in a new mate. What I've got is who I love.

I have just come home after 6 days away, and I am most gratified to see all the nice comments here. Thanks to Ronni, and to you all for reading!

Your essay on marriage and what makes yours last hit a similar chord with me.

Sam and I have been married for almost 56 years and I agree with most everything you said.

We knew each other for two and a half months when we were married and it has worked out just fine.

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