Showing posts with label Anniversary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anniversary. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to Stay Married Forever

On our 30th wedding anniversary, I wrote a post about staying happily married for 30 years. Back then I said something about, who knows?  Maybe we won't make it to 31. Well, we've not only made it to 31, we have just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary!  

Years ago, when we were first married, I read an article that said if you wanted your husband to remember your wedding anniversary, agree that you will take turns for deciding how to celebrate the event each year. That meant that every other year it would be his turn to plan something and every other year it would be my turn.  We have done that and the article was right.  Hubby has never forgotten an anniversary and we have celebrated it in locations all over the world.

A couple of years ago, it was Hubby's turn and he decided it would be fun to visit Walla Walla and do some wine-tasting.  As you know, we enjoy that little activity together.  Let's just say we wined and dined!

However, the year before that it was my year and we went to Italy, so go figure, but I'm not complaining. 

Anyway, while out and about in Walla Walla, I might have just mentioned a time or two that we were celebrating our wedding anniversary (you never know when that might result in a hotel upgrade, free drink or dessert!),

and two different people (younger ones, I might add) asked

 "So, what is your secret to a long marriage?"

I had never been asked that before, so it really got me to thinking, and it reminded me of some articles I had seen lately about how to not only stay married for a long time but....forever.

How have we made it this long?

Now I wouldn't presume to give advice...well, yes, I would, I do it all of the time in this blog, but since I have been asked the question, I decided to try to answer it.

The article from "The Huffington Post" about staying married forever made many of the points that I made in my blog post two years ago - have a sense of humor, be considerate, pull your weight, have common interests, the usual stuff - except the last one.  The last point was "Don't get divorced."  Ha!  They should have started with that one.  Sort of trumps everything else, doncha think?

So, yes, if you want to stay married forever, don't get a divorce.  Duh.  But if you want to stay HAPPILY married forever, there is more to it than that.

So what is the difference between 36 years and forever? Not many if you are already in your sixties, but thirty two years can certainly feel like forever if you are not happy.

Though I think it's a good idea to go into a marriage thinking you are not going to get a divorce, to stay married forever for that reason alone is going to make two people very miserable.

Since both Hubby's and my parents were married for 50+ years, 36 years doesn't seem like a lot, but for us Baby Boomers, who drove the divorce rate up to 50%, I would say that is pretty good.

However, I know my parents were in it for the long haul no matter what. No one got divorced, and if you did, you were tantamount to being a hussy (the woman always got blamed).  I had a cousin, whom I loved, who dared to divorce her husband and she was persona non grata within the family for the rest of her life.

I am sure my parents loved each other when they got married, but they had already gone together for eight years before that happened. 

I once asked my Dad about that and his answer was interesting.  He said, "What do you do after going with someone for eight years?  You get married."  Doesn't sound very romantic. I have a feeling my mother told him to get off the pot or take a hike. 

They had three kids. All of us three kids were about five years apart.  I was the youngest, so my sister was almost 10 years older than I was, my brother five. My brother was around during most of my formative years, but my sister was not.  When I talk to my sister about how she remembers my parents, it's nothing like what I remember.  I was 12 when she got married and moved away, and I was 14 when my brother got married.  By that time, my Dad was working all of the time and my mother was making my teenage life a misery.  What I know now was that my mother was frustrated and lonely and my Dad had mentally left the marriage.

So yes, my parents stayed married "forever," but it's not what I would call a happy marriage. Once we kids were all gone, my Dad should have left and become a cowboy like he always wanted.

And my mother should have gotten a job. I only say that because she talked longingly about her life before she got married when she had a "status job" as the secretary to the president of the local bank.  She was a very smart woman who was denied a college education and I don't think she ever got over that.

I remember her trying to get a job when she was in her 50's and not being able to, and I could tell it was upsetting to her. She lived out her days babysitting for the neighbors' kids.

Yes, my parents stayed together forever but I don't think it was a happy forever.

I think we can all stay married forever if we want to by gritting our teeth and if we are willing to put up with all kinds of crap, but the trick is staying married forever and being happy as well.

Now Hubby and I haven't been married forever, but if one of us dropped dead tomorrow we could say we had been.  Forever means what we vowed when we married - "Til death do us part."  But so far, Hubby and I are still going to the gym and don't need to carry around a respirator or anything, so I would say we have quite a few years yet before we get to "forever."

But now it's been 36 years and that feels like forever.  I only say that, because it seems like forever since I was that young woman of 36 who married Hubby (and just so you know, I was not on the shelf until I was 36 and Hubby rescued me from spinsterhood - a few men before him deemed me worthy of marriage as well.  Just so you know).

Anyway, here is finally the point. 

It's only been 36 years for Hubby and me, and considering our age, forever could be close by, but it's been 36 mostly HAPPY years.  We still like each other, we still hang out together and we still plan for our future together.

Over this last weekend when we were asked what the secret to a long happy marriage was, I quickly answered, "It has to be fun."  Hubby, of course, had to be a smart aleck and say, "Keep your mouth shut."  He meant his mouth, not mine.  You know, those usual "Yes, dear" and "Happy wife, happy life" clichés that I hate? Anyway, fun came to mind for me because I don't think marriage should have to be work.  Yes, we have to be considerate and all of that, but if there isn't more fun going on than work, then what's the point?

But as I thought about this more and more, I realized it was way deeper than that, and I came up with three things that I think will get you to the "f word"...Forever.

One is trust.

And I am not talking about trusting Hubby to not cheat.  At this point, after all of these years, if a beautiful young thing told Hubby how handsome he was and wanted to give him a lap dance, I wouldn't be surprised if he couldn't say no. 

No, what I am talking about here is more important to me than that.  I am talking about the kind of trust where you can expect your partner to be consistent in ways that affect your daily life.  For example, if the brakes went out on my car in the Whole Foods parking lot and I called Hubby to come help me, I can trust that he will drop everything and come right away.  I won't have to cool my heels until it's convenient for him to get away.  If he says he will come home after work, I can trust that he will.  If I am in the middle of a recipe with my hands full of flour and I realize I am out of sugar, I can trust that Hubby will run to the store and get what I need.  And when things go wrong, I can trust that he will choose to be there for me. And I will do the same for him.

But even more important than that is being known. 

If you feel someone really knows you, then you know it will last forever.  And that doesn't happen very often. Being known, really known, is what we humans all crave.  But to get there requires vulnerability and a level of intimacy that some of us are not capable of.  It requires listening, understanding, empathy and compassion. When we share our deepest secrets and insecurities and we are made to feel OK about them, then we know we are known.

Finally, I think for a marriage to last forever, you really have to enjoy each other

And I am not talking about enjoying each other's company as you go to the theatre, out to eat or visiting friends. That is important and we certainly enjoy those activities together, but I am talking about enjoying the little things about each other, still getting a kick out of each other's little habits and peccadillos after so many years. 

For example, I might bitch at Hubby from time to time.  Well, OK, a lot of the time. Though I am sure Hubby doesn't like me to nag and bitch at him, Hubby also gets a kick out of my pursed lips, flaring nostrils and narrowed eyes when I get going.  It makes him laugh which in turn makes me laugh. And what can I say?  He enjoys my company so much he will watch "The Bachelor" with me.

Early in our relationship, Hubby confessed that there was a time when he couldn't imagine being with just one woman for the rest of his life.  Hubby was a bit of a lothario when I met him.

When we got married, I used to tease Hubby about our being together "forever," as if that was something we couldn't possibly imagine.  We would say "We will be together forever and ever and ever..."

Now 36 years later, we are getting closer and closer to the "f-word."

So if you find someone who not only loves you, but who you can trust to be there for you when the chips are down, who really knows you, warts and all, and still loves you and actually enjoys being around you, if your partner is your "person" and you are his (or hers), then you have a shot at the "f-word" -


So here's to the "f-word!"

Thanks for Reading!

 See you Friday

for my review of

"Money Monster"


 The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Stay [Happily] Married for 30 Years

Hubby and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.

I can't believe we have been married for 30 years. 

That fact makes me reflect on what kept us together through all of the highs and lows of life during that time.

What does it take to stay happily married for 30 years?

Well, thank you for asking.  I do have some ideas about that.

Here are what I think are the necessary  ingredients to stay happily married for 30 years:

This is a film term for the charming, ironic or amusing ways a guy and a girl meet in movie rom-coms, such as Woody Allen meeting Diane Keaton's Annie Hall on the tennis court. 

 Hubby and I "met cute" when he hit me on the head with a full can of beer in Big Sur, California, and we ended the night singing a duet of "Endless Love." 
(If you are interested, the full, and brilliantly entertaining, story can be found in my review of the remake of the movie "Endless Love" in my blog "The Best Films of 2013 that No One Saw"). 

But my point here is, if you "meet cute," together you can bore people endlessly at cocktail parties recounting how you met.  It's a bonding thing and will keep you together for 30 years at least. 

How 80's can you get?  Headband, armband and, Hubby, what's with the chest hair and the ciggy?

Also if you both are single when you meet, that helps. 

Getting together while cheating on your spouses or significant others doesn't bode well for the next 30 years.

  • Kiss on bridges
Hubby and I have this tradition. 

 Not sure how it started, but whenever we walk across a bridge, we must kiss (I think Hubby started it. He's an affectionate guy).

The point here isn't that you must kiss on bridges to stay happily married for 30 years, but that you need little rituals that are just yours to add to that all important "history" that you need to make together.

  • Take turns planning the wedding anniversary
I think I got this idea from a magazine article, but it has worked well over the years. 

The article said something about if you want your husband to remember your wedding anniversary, take turns planning what you will do to celebrate. 

So that's what we did.  Each year it's one of our turns to plan the event (Hubby get's the even years, I get the odd years). 

And I'm not talking about a card and dinner.  I am talking about planning something BIG.  Our anniversary celebrations have taken us as far from home as Paris and the UK and as close to home as British Columbia, but it has always constituted something special.  This year's celebration was Vancouver and the Okanagan wine country in B.C.  

And the article was right.  Hubby has never forgotten an anniversary, and we have had some wonderful adventures together.

In England's Lake District c. 1994 with my hair in an 80's "Flashdance" side pony.

At Lake Okanagan 2014 - wish I could still rock that 80's side-pony.

  • Thoughtfulness

My father was the most thoughtful person on the planet so it's not easy to fill those shoes. 

I hope I have inherited some of his thoughtfulness, but being thoughtful also means recognizing when someone else is being thoughtful in all of its incarnations, large and small.

When Hubby fixes a big breakfast for himself (because as you know, I am not up yet) he always leaves me two pieces of bacon. He remembers things I am "wishing for." And he never forgets my birthday, Valentine's Day, our Anniversary, Mother's Day.  And when he travels, he always calls me every night before bed.

For my part, I try to be a "full-service wife and mother," meaning I don't forget to do what I am asked, I remember what people like and don't like, I think of fun things to do, I celebrate all accomplishments big and small, bring home gifts for no reason and anticipate what needs to be taken care of.
  • Pull your weight
If you both contribute equally to the marriage, then there won't be any resentment. Contributing equally can take many forms.  

I always worked and there were times when I made more than Hubby and times when he made more than I did
(mostly he made more than I did.  Librarians aren't in it for the money). 
Even when we had children, I didn't say, "I'm staying home with the kids."  Much as I would have liked to (and I know I missed a lot), we couldn't afford it.  And I did have a career I cared about.  However, I often wonder what my life would have been if I had been a full-time Mom.  Maybe my kids would have liked me better.

And I am not saying that the people who stay home with the kids don't pull their weight.  They do.  It's not easy taking care of kids, but I think staying home with the kids also means housework, cooking and other household chores, so the person who commutes off to work each day doesn't have to add yet more to his or her list of duties.  That doesn't mean, however, that the person who goes off to work doesn't also have household duties and needs to take the burden off of the person staying home. 

This is something that needs to be decided between the two of you.  Whatever you decide, it must feel right to each of you - that no one is being taken advantage of.  Think of it this way.  You are basically roommates albeit roommates with benefits, but you wouldn't like it if your roommate was always late on the rent, left the bathroom dirty or ate all of your food without fixing you any. 

See "Be Considerate" below.

  • Be considerate
More marriages than we can count have broken up over the toothpaste cap or the toilet seat.

 Hubby is a morning person.  I mean, he gets up at seven even when he doesn't have to.  I just don't get it, but at least he keeps things quiet for me while I am sleeping in because I am decidedly NOT a morning person.  He also will run to the store for me when I am cooking and suddenly realize I don't have those two eggs I thought I had, though they are probably gone because Hubby ate them.

On my part, I don't put walnuts in the brownies, I put things back after I use them, I am never late and I pick up after myself.  You can thank my Dad for that (except for the walnuts.  That's Hubby's thing).

  • Interests in common; interests of your own
I think you need to have some common interests.  If not, you will never do anything together, or one of you will be resenting having to do things he or she doesn't want to do.  On the other hand, you want to have something interesting to bring to the table and that only happens if you also have your own interests, friends and activities.
    For example:
Hubby likes sports; I don't (but I sometimes let him talk to me about them).
Hubby plays golf; I don't.
Hubby is in a band; I'm not (but I usually go watch him play so some groupie doesn't get him.  That's important for staying married too!)

I like to watch "Ru Paul's Drag Race;" Hubby doesn't, but he's not judgmental.
I write a blog; Hubby doesn't (but he shares it).
I meditate; Hubby doesn't.
I like to shop for clothes; Hubby fumes. 

But we both love fine dining, wine tasting, concerts, theatre, travel, dogs, stair walking and going to the gym.  Well, the gym, not so much.

One of the Seattle stairs we walked.

  • If one of you is bossy, then the other one can't be. 

        Bossy?  Hello, that's me. 

This child may not look bossy, but at seven she already knew how to pose and tell people what to do, so I rest my case.  Believe it or not, I am in a fashion show here rocking the latest fashion in pajamas for seven-year-olds with a little bunny as an accessory.

But by bossy, I mean I like to get things done, don't like procrastination, don't like being late, don't like lazy, so there is a certain amount of nagging going on.  Hubby certainly doesn't like to be bossed around or nagged, but he will be the first to admit my sometimes Teutonic methods have helped him. 

Being bossy, though, does not mean thinking I am always right, needing the last word or being a know-it-all.  That's Hubby's department. 

I can see the "smart-ass" element already forming.

In our early days, we argued more about the "being right" thing, but now I say, "OK, fine, whatever," knowing that if I really cared, I would look it up and point out the error of Hubby's ways (and he is wrong a lot).  But if you spend all of your time looking things up to prove someone wrong, then you won't have a life, will you? 

So he lets me boss him to a certain extent, and I let him think he is right, and answer questions about which he has no knowledge whatsoever.  The family joke used to be calling him "Mr. Know-It-All."  "He will answer any question whether he knows the answer to it or not including rhetorical questions."

Which leads me to the next criteria. 

  • Having a sense of humor.
Hubby makes me laugh and also has allowed himself to be the subject of a bit of family ridicule.  It's his own fault.  Once the family started watching "The Simpsons (and we were there from Day 1)," and Hubby started imitating Homer doing "Doh!," what did he expect?  It made the kids laugh, but he was forever after Homer.

But, the point is, he has a sense of humor about himself which is absolutely essential.  I feel I do, too.  If you can't make fun of yourself, you shouldn't be making fun of anyone else, says Ms. Bossypants.

I also make Hubby laugh because he gets a kick out of my foibles and my sense of humor.  He gets me.  And he still thinks I'm cute.

  • Be on the same page in the bedroom, if you know what I mean.
       That's all I am going to say about that.

  • Happy Hour
You can call it Happy Hour, sitting by the fire, reading together, whatever rings your bell. It's a euphemism for spending time alone together.  But the important thing is spending time together, quality time, no kids. 

Don't get me wrong, we adored our children, but I don't think we would have been doing them any favors by letting them stay up until they dropped.  No, they had a bedtime and we adhered to it.  And, yes, sometimes it wasn't necessarily convenient to "do bedtime," but we did.  I even did it when I was going through a terrible divorce, because it is comforting to a child to have a routine.  I would do "The Old Gray Mare (on my hands and knees, child on my back, singing)," perhaps there would be another song, then bath, two stories and then lights out. 

Then it was "adult time."  

Now that the kids are gone, we still make time for each other. 

At the end of the day, we get together on the deck or in the kitchen, share a cocktail and talk...or sing.  Out on the deck, we might crank up Pandora and enjoy our surroundings.

We are known to sing The Animals' "We Gotta Get Outta this Place" at the top of our lungs.  What the neighbors must think.  Who cares?

Each person needs to feel the other really wants to spend time with them. And it needs to be fun. You are supposed to be each other's best friends, right? If you can't do that, you might want to figure out if you really like spending time together without your kids, because once they are gone, what will you talk about? Do you have fun together, just the two of you?

Finally and probably most important,

  • Commitment.
None of what I have written will make any difference at all if you don't want to stay married.

When I discovered my ex-husband had been cheating on me with a coed, while we had a two-year-old son and I was slaving away to put my ex through college, I was devastated.  But what hurt even more was when I still tried to make it work, and I asked him if he wanted to stay married to me and he said he didn't know.  Wrong answer!

You will never make it for 10 years let alone 30 if the commitment is not there, because there will be times when you might resent or even hate your spouse for awhile.  Stuff will happen that you will both need to go through, stuff that isn't fun. There will be temptations. If you are not committed, forget it.  You just won't want to make the effort.

It's your choice.  Every day you need to *choose* to love, choose to forgive, choose to stay together.

I don't mean to preach.  I'm just celebrating.  After all, it's been 30 years.

I really don't have all of the answers by any means.  I just know that somehow, through thick and thin, Hubby and I are still together after 30 years.  My parents and Hubby's parents were together for over 50, so we have some years to go.  But at least, this is what has gotten us this far. 

And we still love each other.  And we still have had fun together.

Sure, you need to be on the same page about money and child rearing, but more than that, it's a shared history, it's those little things like kissing on bridges and going on stair walks, it's your shared love of your children, it's being best friends, it's having fun, it's wanting to stay married.

If that helps anyone, then I am happy.

And who knows? I could get served with divorce papers tomorrow. 

This is just how we got through 30 years.  If I make it the next 20, I will probably have more to say when I write, "How to stay married for 50 years," if I can still write...or see...or sit up...or stop drooling...

What are your tips
for a happy marriage?

See you Friday for

"Movies that make you go...What the...?
and The Week in Reviews"

Thanks for reading!

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