My grandparents celebrated 54 years of marriage a couple weeks ago. Last weekend, I was honored to be a bridesmaid in my friends' wedding. Witnessing (and experiencing) the beginning of marriage made me think about what the future holds and how to maintain a strong relationship, one that grows over the years. I decided to solicit some insight and advice from a few couples who have plenty of experience in marriage...
|Our parents and grandparents on their wedding days|
Married September 29, 1956
Marriage is... a commitment before God, made by two people to love and honor each other. It says we are one regardless of what trial we may have in the future.
What I love about our marriage... We are still in love after 54 years. Our commitment has not changed over those many years.
A challenging part of marriage... In ours it was the demands of business that required a great deal of travel and left the major responsibility of managing five children to the woman of the house. She did a great job. Just ask our children!
What I look forward to in the future of our marriage... At our age to look forward is a much shorter view than looking back. We have been blessed with 5 great children who have partnered with 5 great spouses to produce 17 grandchildren. We look forward to many years of enjoying our family grow as our grandchildren embark on their journey.
A piece of marriage advice... Remember it is a 50/50 proposition. 100% her way sometimes and 100% his way sometimes. It may never end up equal but it will certainly save a lot of discomfort.
Scott's parents, Arnold and Patricia
Married June 26, 1971
Marriage is... fun, disappointing, challenging. I had no preconceived ideas going into marriage, but got one piece of advice from my mother - don't think that you are going to change someone because you are married. People do change over the years, but that's their own doing.
What I love about marriage... Being able to still do things together and enjoy each other after all these years.
A challenging part of marriage... hmmm... For us it was finances. He's a spender, I'm a saver. And the setting on the thermostat (stupid I know). He likes the house cold, I like it hot. Many arguments over those two issues. Kids, religion, family - we were always on the same page with these.
What I look forward to... We will be married 40 years in June 2011. We are in our sixties. We have raised our children and are thrilled and proud of what they have become. Our jobs/careers are on the back side of the mountain. They are not important to us anymore. Our family is everything. One sad thing - we are going to bury a lot of family in the next couple of years. One VERY happy thing - we look forward to grandchildren!!
A piece of marriage advice... I have no advice for anyone. Marriage is a very personal journey. It is shaped by the times one lives in. It is rocky and smooth, good and bad, up and down. I am grateful that I found someone who has the one trait/characteristic I value most - he's the only person in the whole world that can make me laugh, sometimes to the point of not being able to breathe. Whatever that one thing is for you - may you have found it.
My parents, John and Susan
Married May 23, 1981
Marriage is... committing my life to the most caring, selfless, loving person that I know and being truly blessed each day to be his wife. It is having a hand to hold, arms to hug you, an ear to listen to your hopes, dreams, and fears, a shoulder to cry on, eyes to see your beauty even when you cannot, a mind to challenge you to always be your best, a heart to share your joys and sorrows, a voice to exchange an I Love You each day with, and a soul that you know knows you better than anyone on earth and that you will spend all of eternity with.
What I love about marriage... I love that no matter how terrible a day I have had that I can always find comfort and strength in the arms of my best friend. I love that just the sight of him across a room or the touch of his hand on mine, still makes my heart race after almost 30 years.
A challenging part of marriage... With our extremely busy lives, it has always been a challenge to carve out special time for just the two of us, For this reason, we try to schedule dates periodically so that we can look forward to "us" time. Also Dad is great in that he always called me during his lunch break when I stayed at home with you girls and now comes by my office just to say hi or eat lunch while I work. Just that small gesture meant so much to me to know that he was thinking of me.
What I look forward to... Next fall when Jen goes away to college, we will be alone for the first time in 26 years. I look forward to spoiling Dad with my attention. Ha. I also look forward to doing fun things together like taking dance lessons, going to concerts and art fairs, playing golf, cooking romantic meals together and just enjoying our time together. Oh and traveling together instead of separately to visit our girls.
A piece of marriage advice... Pray together - it is our job to lead our spouses to heaven and there are times in a marriage when your faith will sustain you. Each day do something special for your spouse even if it is as simple as a random kiss, little note, or a compliment to let them know that they rock your world and that you would say yes all over again. During different times in a marriage, one spouse may be more needy than the other - do not keep score. Always be there for each other to build them up as they should always know that you have their back. It always bothers me when people complain about their spouses constantly. Instead find the good in what they do and reinforce that behavior. Nothing makes a person feel better than to be appreciated and who doesn't love hearing your spouse "brag" about you to someone else.
As I said at your wedding reception: three tips: Keep the Lord in your Marriage; the greatest gift one can give to their children is to Love their spouse; love = Time, make time for the other it helps to Show (actions speak louder than words) the other what is your priority in life.
Marriage is... a total, always striving to improve upon, deepest relationship one can have on this earth with the goal of eternity with this person.
What I love about marriage... It helps me become a better person. I get more satisfaction from doing something to make someone else happy than anything I could do for my own "happiness" which is counter to this world's ideas.
A challenging part of marriage... Making time or giving when you have no energy for anything in this consuming world. An observant spouse sees and understands that you are giving all that you have and appreciates even that.
What I look forward to... To continuing to work on building - and even improving on - the most wonderful thing in my life. Empty nest will be missing my girls, but I look forward to less distractions in my time with your Mom.
A piece of marriage advice... Keep things exciting. Plan! Keep looking for ways to make yourself a better spouse and think of ways to serve your spouse. Appreciate them. Deepen your relationship. Give all you have, it will come back to you more than you can imagine.
Thank you for being strong examples of a loving marriage!
And when all else fails, there is one last piece of marriage advice from an anonymous source: A gin and tonic makes everything better.