Photo courtesy pedrosimoes7
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tess Marshall of The Bold Life.
Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle. ~Amy Bloom
Pregnant at seventeen, I married my boyfriend Roger. By the time I was 22, I had four little girls, the third pregnancy being twins. Our 37th wedding anniversary is January 14th. We have been asked repeatedly, “How did you both stay together all of these years?”
The following thoughts contains the answer to the question:
- Focus on what works for you and the strong points you both have. One of our strengths has always been working well together. When the twins were born we had twice as many dirty diapers, dishes, bottles and chaos in addiction to our 2 year old and 4 year old. If we didn’t learn to help each other and work together we would have never moved forward. To this day we can still count on each. No burden is too heavy when shared.
- Remind yourselves often what you love about each other. When I’m folding my husband’s clothes I reflect on his work ethic, patience, strength and generosity. I smile as I remember his jokes and his quirky humor. I’m amazed at the relationships he has grown and nurtured with our adult daughters. When you spend time reflecting on the good qualities of your spouse, your love, affection, adoration for each other will grow.
- Be interested in and share each other’s world. Be in touch with each others lives. Stay connected when you are apart. We have always checked in with each other then we’ve been apart. When the girls were in elementary school I went to college. When the girls were in high school, I went to grad school. Through out it all we stayed in touch with each other. Today it’s easier than ever with email, texting and cell phones. To this day Roger calls me at noon just to check-in.
- Maintain a fundamental belief that your spouse is worthy of honor and respect. Never put each other down. Be kind to each other. Watch your tone of voice when you are frustrated with each other. Learn to sing each other’s praises. Build trust by always telling the truth. Let go of expectations. Practice accepting each other in the present moment. We didn’t know how to do this for the first 10 years. When I thought things couldn’t get any worse we decided to find a therapist and seek help. This was in the early 80’s; we paid $50 out of pocket, paid a babysitter and drove 45 minutes weekly for six months. What we learned changed our relationship forever.
- Teach each other. Share your knowledge with each other. Don’t doubt the others capability. Offer encouragement, advice and wisdom in a loving manner. Keep an open mind and be flexible. Spend time talking and take an interest in your spouse’s point of view. Every one has the right to be and think differently. Two sentences we both use that have helped us avoid conflict are, “Would you rather be happy or right?” And “Did you forget I’m on your side?”
- Be there when you are needed during the insignificant moments of life, for example, picking up groceries, helping with the dishes, filling a car with gas, paying bills and communicating in the car. These sacred moments and gestures are the heart and soul of your relationship. Make these events count. The little things you do to connect emotionally add up and get you through difficult days, sickness and other life transitions.
- Bring enthusiasm and bring newness to the relationship. Avoid a routine life. Turn off the television. We quit smoking when we were young and began running together. We’ve also danced, biked, hiked, rollerbladed, and walked together over the years. When you get tired of something try something different. The opportunities are endless!
- Know your spouse’s likes and dislikes. Do you know how your husband likes his steak; can you name his favorite baseball team? Do you know her favorite song and restaurant? Know each others dream, worries, fears, doubts and joys. Know what the other is thinking, feeling and their hearts desires. The more you know and understand each other’s personal world the stronger your friendship will be.
- Friendship is the core of any good relationship or marriage. When you maintain a deep friendship and take loving and caring actions you establish a sense of closeness. Your positivity in your relationship will significantly out weigh your negativity. You will go to sleep showing love and affection.
- Be grateful. Don’t take each other for granted. Right from the start Roger decided he wanted to make our bed “army style,” with the sheets neatly tucked in on all corners. Thirty-seven years later he continues to make our bed! He deserves the same gratitude today as he did the very first time.
- Make joint goals. Our goal was to move to the South West when we became “empty nesters.” We dreamed of different work, a different climate, and new friends. We dreamed of the sun shining 360 days a year. We left Michigan in 2007 and now reside in Arizona.
- Rely on the power of prayer. We have prayed together from the beginning. We’ve always had a strong faith that things would work out. Our relationship is a gift from God.
There were times we both felt like running away. Calling it quits. We never did. We took our marriage vows seriously. No matter how bad things got or how tired we were we just kept putting on foot in front of the other. Bad days and bad times come to an end. Sad times and hard were our teachers. We learned to be strong, resilient and courageous. We have been blessed!