18 Feb The Not-So-Secret-Secrets to Being Married for 39 years!
In today’s social media world, everybody looks perpetually happy and gorgeous all the time. And if you took your relationship cues from that, you would find a good reason to be sad and disappointed most of the time. Especially if your life does not resemble the glossy airbrushed lives of couples in the virtual world.
Marriage in real time can be wonderful, romantic, emotionally fulfilling and exhilarating. It can also be frustrating, aggravating and messy.
Recently my husband Richard and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. And no, I honestly can’t believe it myself! I have no idea where the time went.
In between kids and schools, ups and downs, mundane chores, life, vacations and graduations, challenges with money and health, jobs and moving, it all just flew by. Things that seemed so major and life changing at the time have all melted into one long story with us as the lead characters.
It really does seem just like yesterday that we sat in the limo, fresh from the church, heading toward our reception. I had just turned 20 and Richard was 24. I was dressed up in my beautiful lace gown, watching my parents get into the car behind us. It was slowly dawning on me that everything was about to change drastically in my life. I was wondering if I had made the right decision, and would be able to leave my parents and live with Richard by myself. It was early evening and it was snowing in North Jersey. The streets were glistening while the sun was setting, and every sidewalk and avenue looked like it was covered in glitter under the setting sun.
I tried to turn off the noise in my head and look at my new husband, who looked handsome in his pale grey morning coat. I looked at him and said “close your eyes and remember this moment because this is the ride that opens the rest of our lives.”
Obviously, the timing of this particular blog seemed appropriate because it is February, the month of love, and in truth, I did just celebrate a momentous anniversary.
When I recently mentioned this to my team, they suggested I write a blog about how I did it. “It” being staying married for so long. Considering society and the microwave way we often deal with life and love, they thought it might be beneficial.
Being a writer, I wanted to begin with the fairy tale and then bring it back to reality as best I could.
LOVE IS A DECISION!!
It is not a feeling. Feelings will come and go, and they do. Real love is a commitment of the heart and the head.
HOW DO YOU MAKE LOVE LAST? I am certainly no expert but after 39 years with my guy (who by the way I love more now than I did 39 years ago)…
Here are some of our not-so-secret secrets:
- Make time for each other. Life can get very busy, very fast once you get married, especially after having a family. Set aside some personal time. Whether you call it date night, or a kid-free hour, or whatever. Maybe it’s going to the gym together or playing golf, or watching a movie at home once the kids go to sleep. It doesn’t matter if it’s just the two of you not talking about bills are tending to household chores.
- Consider one another in your personal decision making. While we are all individuals it’s still important to think about how a decision made in a vacuum might affect the other person at home. Just put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself; how would they feel if I did this right now. Remembering that it’s not just yourself that you must be concerned with but someone else as well.
- Make sure that you have a designated “me” space in your home to give each other occasional cool off zones. This is important.
We were both complete opposites and A-types. Each figuring that we knew what was best and not being interested in conceding an argument as a sign of weakness. We often had to agree to disagree and retreat to our own spaces and just cool out. We did not have a big house, but he would watch TV in the den, and I would retreat to the kitchen table and do my crafts. Sometimes after an hour or so we could come back and have some coffee and talk it out. Looking back, I am so thankful that we understood that giving each other time alone while still in the house was a great way to decompress.
- Being humble enough to say you’re sorry even when you know you are right. Sometimes having peace is more important than winning. And when you love someone, and you can see that they are struggling to be right, then concede and let them be right…just don’t tell them you conceded. “Blessed are the peace makers.”
- Realize that men and women just don’t communicate the same way. It doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, but just that we’re different in our communication styles.
He knows how to make you happy and you know what will make him smile. Commit to communicate and show love in the way that works for them and not for you.
- Pray for each other. Really pray. Ask God to bless your spouse and give them the desires of their heart. Don’t use your prayer time to complain about them but rather to uplift them. Something breaks when we pray earnestly for others. We become transformed in the process. When you pray for someone else even through your own hurts and disappointments God will bless you in the process because He sees your heart.
- Go into your marriage determining that there is no walking out so whatever happens, we can make it through. Of course, I am not talking about putting up with abuse or crime or anything extreme as such, but rather what the bible calls the little foxes that get in the way. If you don’t entertain divorce as an option than all you have is each other. You will have to work it out.
- Long term couples can testify that they’ve had to grow together, while allowing each other the room to change and think differently. I am definitely not the same 20-year-old girl he married 39 years ago. And he is not that same 24-year-old kid either. I’d like to think we are wiser, kinder and more patient in our thinking and our dealings. We give each other space but respect at the same time. I have to say now that after 39 years, Richard is my best friend. And it may sound corny, but I prefer his company over anyone else’s. Not to mention that he knows me like no one else.
- And lastly, after all the work and molding and shaping that I have had to do with this man… I have decided that no one else is going to reap the benefits of his well-defined personality but me! Men are like diamonds when you find a good one, and I did. It may take a while to get them all polished and for the facets to shine as they should. They are worth a lot but initially can be dull and kind of dusty without defined luster or shape.
Life and marriage, the companionship of a good woman, can be like a drill and a chisel (Richard would say a day at the dentist, lol)! Life together has a way of sharpening us both. Defining our assets and our gifts. Bringing out the best in us. Until we become priceless gems in the hands of the master.
39 years was by no means easy. Some years we just had to take it by faith and keep walking together. Do what we were called to do and be who we were committed to being for each other and for our kids.
So, how do you get to 39 years? One day at a time with one foot in front of the other. Holding each other’s hands through good times and bad, passion and indifference, change and monotony. Never letting go until the ride levels out and the ground gets smooth.
This year we looked at each other without saying a word. He could read me, and I could read him. We were happy together doing absolutely nothing and not even saying a whole lot.
That doesn’t happen overnight but it’s wonderful when it does.