I suppose as anyone approaches one of the big milestones of a marriage it is natural to wonder how and why some people remain together for forty or fifty or sixty years. There are even couples who have celebrated seventy years- a lifetime- together. Amazing! But in all honesty, in our current society we are often amazed when a couple reaches the ten year goal. It is just too easy, and too easily accepted, to get a divorce. And no, I’m not “pointing my finger”. Those of you who know me well know this is my second marriage. When I first married I was a child (17), and married another child (19), and after a couple of years we realized we didn’t and couldn’t and wouldn’t ever play well together.
When I married a second time I was older and wiser and had some experience with failure. I don’t recommend that as a criterion for finding a good spouse, but it worked for me. Gary and I have had our differences over the years, but we are well suited for each other and have enjoyed a meaningful, rewarding, and enjoyable relationship.
I will warn you now that over the next two days I plan to post some memories and photos of our forty years together. You can join our celebration if you like, or come back on Sunday for a new month and a new topic. LOL But this morning I want to comment on something Gary and I have both observed about other couples. Many of our friends, especially those no longer married to each other, spend very little time together. They might share the same address, but not the same life. Both spouses work-then the woman takes care of the house and children in the evening and on weekends; the man takes care of the cars and the yard and spends time with his buddies each weekend. Years pass and pretty soon they have drifted farther and farther apart. By the time the children are grown, if they even stay together that long, they really don’t know each other and have very little in common. Gary and I know couples that we have NEVER seen together as a couple.
I know there are people who think Gary and I are joined at the hip because we do so many things together. But that togetherness isn’t the product of some co-dependent need or even convenience, just preference. We’ve both spent time alone and have the confidence and experience to do anything else we want to do- we just prefer to be together. During the years when Gary was driving a truck we spent only four or five days per month together and many people thought his retirement might result in some serious conflicts. But after a brief transition period we simply enjoyed each other’s company again.
So it seems to me that if you are married to someone you should spend some time with that person. More important- you should want to spend time with that person. And that desire to spend time with another person is usually based on shared values, interests, and goals. We don’t hang around long with people we don’t respect. We don’t usually seek out people who make us angry every time they open their mouth. We don’t make friends with people who do things we find stupid or even offensive. Yet, I hear people make comments about their husbands and wives that lead me to believe they are living with just such a person!
Perhaps the reason Gary and I have been happily married for so long is because we have always been true friends. Friends disagree at times. Friends have ups and downs. Friends don’t always understand each other. But true friends are usually joined together by something constant and binding that they recognize and respect, even though they might not be able to fully explain it. True friends are supportive even if they sometimes have to be brutally honest. True friends want as much health, happiness, and wealth for you as they want for themselves. True friends are committed to you and your relationship, not just to the good times you might have today.
As I reminisce over the next two days you will understand that Gary and I have been through both triumphs and tragedies together, but the key word there is “together”. I hope and pray that you are married to your best friend. If not, perhaps it is not too late to get to know each other better!