After fifty years of marriage some people have asked, “What’s the secret?” I believe there is no secret. I think it is a case making the commitment and keeping it. However, I have learned a few things along the way which may have helped.
Understanding: Try to understand your spouse. May sound trite but it takes an investment of time. Find out what makes them tick. Why they think the way they do. What motivates them. What pleases them. What annoys them – this one you learn fast! Understanding obviously eliminates much misunderstanding.
Learning what is important: No two people can live together without soon running into conflict – unless one is totally subservient. At that point one needs to quickly assess what is important and what is not. Am I being selfish? Am I pushing something which in a very short time will be insignificant? The vast majority of our differences will have no consequence in a year or two. Important are those things which have a long term adverse affect upon the marriage.
It’s not about you: Because life revolves around us as individuals it is hard to move away from that to replace it with your spouse. Once married, life is always about your spouse. When this attitude is reciprocated life works well.
Consideration: Acts of kindness and thoughtfulness are not just appreciated, but highly valued. Sometimes they are worth more than a diamond ring – maybe that’s pushing it but they certainly are high on the approval list. Patience is another virtue which has its own rewards.
Independence: Although the two have become one in many ways, both are still individuals with different interests. That independence must remain to the degree that each spouse is allowed to be themselves and pursue those other interests, unless they become disruptive and in disregard for the marriage relationship.
Consistency: No successful marriage can exist without consistent work at the relationship. Love builds over the years but having made the commitment, it still takes work to ensure its success.
This just scratches the surface and we’ll leave it there, because I am still learning!