My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and now I am of an age that I can truly and properly understand what that entails (a hell of a lot, including bringing me into this world) I had the rare opportunity to ask them about the things that they learned, both good and bad, over the span of their time on this Earth together. And here’s what they had to tell me back…
1) The First 50 Years Are The Hardest
This is my father’s favorite joke, but the spirit behind it is good: marriage takes effort. When things are going great it’s easy to forget that marriages require constant upkeep and maintenance, but when the chips are down, everybody’s stressed, and there’s a newborn crying- well, sometimes it’s a little bit harder to keep a level head and remember just why you married the person in the first place.
Always remember to look on the positive side and help your spouse get to the end of whatever dark tunnel you’re in. Over and over again… just like they’ll do the same for you!
2) You Won’t Like Each Other Sometimes, And That’s Okay
Everyone goes through a honeymoon period where it seems as though they can do no wrong to each other. And that passes, and pretty soon you begin to annoy each other and even, on occasion, outright anger each other. That might take you 2 years or it might take you ten, but it will happen.
The important thing isn’t that you get upset at each other- the important thing is that you forgive each other afterwards, and work to figure out what it was that set you off and work past it!
3) Talk And Communicate
This one is really key. Sometimes after being married awhile people fall into a groove- he cooks and she cleans, or he works and she takes care of the kids, or whatever it is the arrangement was. After some time, however, sometimes somebody starts to become a little dissatisfied with the arrangement. If they don’t say anything, however, then it starts to eat away at the rest of their marriage as well.
This goes for anything in the marriage. Any little thing can become a big thing over time, and if you don’t let it out it will eat away at you inside. Keep in contact- it sounds obvious, given that you live with the person, but many couples go months without touching base. Do a “State Of Our Marriage” talk every couple of months- it’ll help in the long run! (and yes, my father calls it a State Of Our Marriage, despite my mother’s protests).
4) Apologize First
This one’s a hard pill to swallow, especially since none of us likes to swallow our pride and admit we were wrong- or worse, apologize even when we still don’t feel that we were in the wrong. But always remember that your marriage is more than a scorecard of who was right and who was wrong, and it’s always more important to say you’re sorry than to win an argument in the long run. The petty pleasure of being right at any cost is outweighed by the long-term happiness of your union!
5) Love Isn’t Sex
Sex is great. But it’s not the end-all be-all of marriage. The constant sex at the beginning of every relationship will eventually start to stabilize into something a bit less frequent (I will never lose that mental image) and that’s okay. It just means that the honeymoon period of your marriage is over, and you’re going to have to start working a little harder at making the romance happen. Remember, marriage isn’t a sprint- it’s a marathon!
Above all, however, what I took away from my parents now that they’re 50 years in to their marriage is that marriage is an adventure that never stops surprising you and certainly never stops making you fall in love with someone over and over again. It’s something that I very much look forward to experiencing in my own life!