“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 !!!

Author: Juppi66; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Juppi66; via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Source: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei; via Wikimedia Commons

Source: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei; via Wikimedia Commons

– 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.

Author: Brocken Inaglory; CC BY-SA 1.0, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Brocken Inaglory; CC BY-SA 1.0, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0; via Wikimedia Commons

– 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.”

Author: F. Hartmann,   circa 1875; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: F. Hartmann, circa 1875; via Wikimedia Commons



  1. Stuart Bell says:

    Les facing our 35th year this year I would also add that there is nothing wrong with being competitive either – although that will mean at some stage you will both have to learn how to be humble winners and losers! Anyway making up should still remain fun.

  2. Ivan Gomez says:

    Hi Les, your very good blog brought a warm smile to my face. It made me recall a unique taxi ride in Singapore when I was courting the ( then ) Ms. Buczylowski :
    We were being driven by a gentleman into his 80’s who from the time he picked us up in Holland Village was singing away marvellously. About 5 mins into the ride we both complimented him on how happy he was and how we was making our day. He turned around and said he sang because he was happy and he was happy because he was about to enter his 6th decade of marriage to his wife. After picking up our collective jaws at his response I had to ask him the question of his secret for such a long happy marriage. He simply replied that he owed the longevity and happiness of marriage to one sentence: ‘Come to think of it dear… you are right’.
    I said to him ‘what about when she is obviously in the wrong? do you still say it?’
    To which he replied in typical dry Singaporian style ‘You wanna be right, or do you wanna be happy?’

  3. Susanne Thoma alias Susann E T. ;-) says:

    Great! Thank you 🙂

  4. Pam Seplow says:

    Les, what a great accomplishments and lessons to try and live by. Before our wedding our Rabbi said to us (and here I paraphrase) that on our wedding day we should each take a few minutes at some point during the day to really look at the other person and try to imprint that memory in our brain – what the person looked like, what we were feeling, why we decided to marry the other person. Because, he said not every day is going to be easy and some times you might really question why you are still in this and if you can recall that memory from the wedding that might help to get you through the difficult parts in an easier way.

    Happy Anniversary to you and Victoria. May there be any more to celebrate.

    • leshayman says:

      Pam, Rabbis can be very wise. One Rabbi in Melbourne always gave Barmitzvah boys an umbrella and a bible as a gift, so that at least one of the gifts would occassionally get opened. Les

  5. Happy anniversary to you and Victoria! We are celebrating 20 this year, and I have to agree with your six rules. Especially the laughter – you can get through anything if you can laugh together.

    • leshayman says:

      Charlotte, 20 is a magical number and a great milestone. The good news is that as you get older there is so much more to laugh about. 🙂 les

  6. Heinz says:

    What should one make of the fact that both persons you quote were not married?

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