MUSINGS ON A 33 YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
May 19, 2014 14 Comments
“Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend is his wife.”
Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Three years ago I wrote a somewhat tongue-in cheek (some said it was more like foot-in-mouth) post on our 30th wedding anniversary (see “Musings on a 30-year wedding anniversary” posted May 9, 2011). That was supposedly our pearl anniversary and this one is our amethyst anniversary, but I am not sure why so many anniversaries are based on precious and semi-precious stones as traditional gifts, as I would have thought that living in France we would now be due for a cheese or a foie gras anniversary. Fortunately, we overlooked our 32nd anniversary traditional gift as that one turned out to be “automobile” … a near miss !!!
This time I have been prodded by a number of my readers who said “OK, no more of this management blog. What we all want is to read about how to be married that long”.
So Claudia C. and Susan E.T., at your request, this blog piece which is on my six main rules for being married so long is for you. It may not work for everyone, but it seems to have worked for us. I am not trying to say that any of this is easy … it isn’t.
– Marry your best friend, but only if you have the “hots” for them … I have no doubt that most get married based mainly on the “hots”, and I do not want to minimise their importance, but even for those who have the sexual appetite of a satyr, you will only spend a relatively small amount of your time satisfying these needs. The rest of the time you will need to make sure that you actually like (not just love) each other as people. You need to make sure that you have similar life goals, that you are interested in each other’s lives, and that you can enjoy being together. Being keen to talk to your partner about everything and anything is critical.
– Accept that passionate people will fight, so do it well … There is nothing wrong with a good argument with your partner as long as it is done in a way that strengthens rather than weakens the relationship. That means you have to be honest about what the fight is about, and focus on what you are trying to resolve. Do not bring up past transgressions, compare your spouse to historically evil people, point out personality weaknesses or just keep screaming in a way that doesn’t allow discussion. Forget who started it or who is at fault, so when it has gone far enough, be prepared to be the one to apologise and offer to make up, and then forgive each other. No matter how contentious the issue, never ever go to bed without a resolution. If you can’t forget, you must at least forgive and move on with life. Sulking is only for pre-teens.
– Look at your parents … they will be your role models whether you want it so or not … Both our sets of parents had long, successful, loving marriages, which I believe meant that we went into our own relationship with a belief that marriage could work for us as well. That doesn’t mean that it was all easy for us, or that we didn’t have to work at it, nor that we didn’t make lots of mistakes. The important thing is to keep loving and caring for each other, and to look at your partner while trying to remember how you felt about each other on the day you got married, or at the moment that you realised that they were the one person you wanted to be with.
– Keep laughing with, but not at, each other … You have to enjoy each other and doing things together. We love going away with friends, but enjoy even more just getting away on our own to do things together, to talk to each other and to just enjoy each other’s company. There is much in life that is amusing and even hysterical, and it is important to continually be able to share a really good giggle with each other. You should never underestimate the power of surprising your partner with something that will bring a smile to their face. We have had some hysterical fits of laughter when confronted with some of life’s strange situations, and then not remembered the next day what it was that we were laughing at, but just enjoyed the fact that at the time we had shared one of life’s funny moments.
– Share the loads – all of them … No matter how hard one of you works at your career, and even if you are the sole bread winner and your partner stays at home, when you are together you share all the loads and chores. This includes but is not limited to cleaning, washing, gardening, childcare, complaining about your boss, your financial situation, the stresses of your job, your life concerns and anything else that must be done to build and protect a life together. There are no gender-specific roles and duties, just two people who share what needs doing.
– No secrets, no lies, total respect all the time … Treat your partner with respect all the time, not just when you are with other people. Even when your partner says something that makes no sense to you, and is a statement that you consider to be totally incorrect, you have to give them the respect that they have earned just by tolerating your own imperfections and foibles … we all have them and we all make mistakes. Discuss it if you must and then just move on. There should be no secrets (other than for surprise gifts) and no lies … ever.
As said by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) “When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age ? Everything else in marriage is transitory.”