Monday, November 21, 2011

How to have a long, happy marriage

I wish I knew the answer to that. Today is our 41st anniversary and when I posted on Facebook this morning I got a lot of comments commending us on our "accomplishment"—as if we did something special to be married so long. It is rare, I know, but I think of a long marriage to the same person as more a matter of great good luck, than something accomplished.

Here we are leaving the church amid a hail of rice being thrown at us by our friends and family. I don't know if this is done so much anymore. There seem to be various explanations for this old custom, but maybe it was just symbolic of all the things that might be thrown our way, good and bad, over the years ahead.

I have so many friends whose marriages have not survived and I often wonder why we made it work when others haven't. I always come back to luck. Marry the right person. That's an easy answer, but I think most of us know that most people who marry think that is exactly what they have done. I do remember laying in the dark, next to my new husband, suddenly realizing that I didn't really know him. "What have I done?" I wondered. I suppose he felt the same. We didn't share that anxiety with each other, but instead just moved forward, together, through all these years. We usually knew what we wanted and we worked for it. We learned to like many of the same things. I taught him about art. He taught me about jazz. We discovered foreign movies and travel. We had great children and enjoyed them as they grew and when there were problems we usually agreed about how to go about dealing with them. Did we work at this? I suppose we did, but really mostly we were lucky that we seemed to be on the same path and valued the same things.

That chilly November day was a happy and terrifying day. Today was, in many ways, a better, though definitely a simpler day. Now I know for sure that I wasn't making a mistake. I was lucky then and lucky now.

16 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary. It is an accomplishment to remain married. My parents just celebrated their 60th last month. We are going to be in our ninety's to achieve that! LOL! I think perhaps luck, listening, and really communicating help a marriage to succeed. Have a beautiful week and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. Having respect for each other is a major factor and comes through in your post. Happy Anniversary to you both. I loved reading your story.

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  3. I'm in agreement Terry. We married when I was barely 18 and he was 26. He just celebrated 77 so married over 50 years now. I was so very young and naive. We've had many bumps along the way but were just too lazy to think about all that separating or divorcing involved...lol. I'm glad we stuck it out, our marriage is very strong and so much more than if we had given up. Besides the respect, laughter has been tremendously important and you can't negate shared history.

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  4. Well said. I've been married 53 years, and I agree that we, too, have been lucky to make it last so long. It's not always been smooth sailing, but it has been worth working through the tough times because the good times have been so worth it. Best wishes to you both for many more Happy Anniversaries!!!!

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  5. How sweet, and how true. We should all be so lucky...

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  6. Looking back on our 34 years it was pure luck meeting the right man at the right time. I have to give some credit for both of us coming from large families with some similar traditions. How many families do you know do NOT put up or decorate the tree until Christmas eve?

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  7. You answered it for us. You moved forward together. How simple. We will hit 50 this year and I thank you for putting in to words how it happens to work.

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  8. Yes, pick the right person and learn to like some of the same things. Simple, huh?
    I was married 45 years and it was lots of fun (most of the time).
    Happy anniversary to you two.

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  9. what a great post! thank you for sharing this information!

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  10. Congratulations on this milestone, which probably seems like another ordinary day in the grand scheme of things. My sister used to say, "I know it was divine intervention for us to get such good husbands--we weren't that smart."

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  11. I knew my husband six months when we got married. I was sure, after a week, that we had been mistaken to think we should be married. He asked me to stay awhile longer. I stayed 43 years longer. We grew up together, we shared loss and triumph. Still do. We lived far away from family and friends and just had each other. Now, at 65, we have each other. It's good. And, we weren't that smart either. LOL

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  12. Congratulations, Terry ... "and many moooooooore"!

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  13. I think you knew each other better than you thought. Your advice for me, when I met my "one and only" was to talk, ask questions and TALK! I often think that if I had followed your advice, I might have wound up as lucky as you. Happy anniversary, you two. It has been my joy to watch how marriage should be done all these many years.

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  14. Congratulations Terry, that's wonderful! Looks like I'm the baby of the comment crowd. Brian and I celebrated 20 years this past August. Seems like a long time and yesterday all at once. Like you, I don't see it as work - mutual respect and assume the best intentions from the other person. And luck is good too. It was luck we met, so maybe that really is it.

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  15. Belated congratulations (though what's a couple of days in celebrating such a long-term marriage?). You're absolutely right about the "luck" component, among other things.

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