My husband and I celebrated our 50th anniversary last week.  We actually renewed our wedding vows at the Elvis Chapel in Vegas.  It was a blast!


We have had a lot of people ask us what our “secret” is. So, I thought it was time for a new blog to answer that question.

We met in high school.  We were great friends for three years, then started dating seriously our senior year.  I knew then, he was the guy I wanted to marry. It’s why I took his hand after our basketball team won the State Championship. We went in separate directions for college, even gave each other permission to date others, but neither of us did. 


We grew up in a generation where divorce was generally not an option.  Not that we ever thought about it or even used the “D” word, but there have been plenty of times that murder entered my head.  He has a great life insurance policy… with accidental death benefit.  (Watch out for that spaghetti sauce).  Way too many couples today use that “D” word; some use it every time they fight.  The way we saw it, if divorce is not an option, we can get through anything and everything.  I tell my clients I’ve been through several different marriages… I like seeing the look on their faces… but all with the SAME MAN.


We both grew up with loving parents who were great role models for marriage.  I am one of 12 children, with 10 brothers; my husband is one of 6, even split.  I saw my parents fight, but I never once questioned whether they would split up over it.  So, “family of origin” plays a key role in successful marriages.  Marital quality is often transmitted across generations.  It stands to reason the offspring’s perception of the general “tone” of the relationship between our parents (e.g., cold or warm, supportive or distant) might also impact on how adult children conduct their own marriage later in life.  Children are prone to repeat behavior that was modeled to them.  I always ask my clients if they had positive or negative marital role models?


Both of our parents were married 60+ years.

I believe one of the major cancers in marriages today is “selfishness.”  Everyone wants to label it as narcissism.  We are all a bit narcistic at times… welcome to humanity.  But the day you say “I DO” … you have become a “we/us/our.”  Matter of fact, UC Berkley researchers analyzed conversations between 154 middle-aged and older couples about points of disagreements in their marriages and found that those who used pronouns such as “we,” “our” and “us” behaved more positively toward one another. In contrast, couples who emphasized their “separateness” by using pronouns such as “I,” “me” and “you” were found to be less satisfied in their marriages. 


“Individuality is a deeply ingrained value in American society today, but, at least in the realm of marriage, being a part of a “we” is well worth giving up a bit of “me”, said UC Berkeley psychology professor, Robert Levenson.

My mom, who will be 100 next November (2024) and widowed 20 years, still uses “we and our” when referring to anything about herself…” we had chicken for dinner.”

They say 65% of what couples argue about is not resolvable, so choose your battles wisely.  The main reason for that, as I see it… 1) Gender differences,  2) Personality Differences, 3) Family of Origin backgrounds.  All three of these cause us to look through a different lenses than our spouse.  Some issues are worth going to bat for, some should be overlooked or ignored, or accepted as unchangeable.  So, think before you BLURT


Watch your EXPECTATIONS!!!  Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of “extra’s,” but we had what we needed.  My dad was a pretty good handy man, even without YouTube.  Most of my brothers are pretty handy as well.  If something needed fixed or repaired, my dad did it. So, I just expected my husband to be the same, after all, aren’t men the “fixers?”  NOT!!!  In our early years of marriage, I would get so frustrated with him because he couldn’t fix something.  I would literally ask him, “What do you mean you don’t know how to fix the toilet, washer, etc. It made him feel inadequate and angry, which led to many arguments. Expectations are disappointments waiting to happen.  It took me a while to learn that lesson.


By the way, if you haven’t heard this one, LOVE IS A DECISION! If love were as fleeting as a feeling, people would “fall” into and out of love daily…if not hourly.  Love is an ACTION word, not only a feeling word.  When we live love as a decision, we take responsibility for the relationship.  We make the choice to put our spouse and our relationship before any issues.  We decide that the marriage is more important than being right, doing things our way, or winning this one.  Yes, it means we make sacrifices for the sake of the other; forgiving rather than holding a grudge; listening rather than being distracted by your cell phone or video games.  And think of the lessons you are teaching your children about love and marriage… the greatest gift you can give them. 


Make sex important!  You can’t opt out of sex when you’re married.  There are many distractions today that vie for our time and attention.  Put the phone down, turn off the computer, go to bed together, have regular date nights, and TALK. Communication is lubrication.  Put the marriage FIRST!  The strength and health of your family is determined by the strength and health of your marriage.  I’m not telling you to sell your kids or quit your jobs.  The goal here is to preserve your mental health, maintain a healthy romantic relationship, and not lose the reason you and your spouse got together in the first place.  When both parents are happy, the children will be too. 


There are many other “secrets” I could list, but I’ll end with this one.  Share a spiritual life together.  Whatever that may look like for you as a couple.  You’re never more intimate than when you pray together.  It’s a vulnerable act, but one that will reap amazing rewards in your lifetime together.  Trust me!

Life is hard, complicated, and messy at times.  But it’s sure a lot easier going through it with a loving, supportive spouse.  Sit down together and talk about how to have a healthier, happier marriage.  And if you need help, reach out to pastor, counselor, or loved ones who are role models for marriage.  We can’t always do it alone.


P.S. Oh… and don’t forget to have a sense of humor.  It’s gotten us through many rough times.


With wishes of a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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