Yesterday my beloved and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. We were married on a Friday evening in 1972. The ceremony was at 7 in the evening, and took place in the city of Hamilton. We had a two night honeymoon at the Holiday Inn in Brantford.
At the time, I was one week to the day shy of my 18th birthday (my mother had to sign her consent on the marriage licence application), and David was a much older man of 19. No one—including us—really thought it would last, and not just because I was four months pregnant at the time.
Of all our friends who attended our wedding all those years ago, I believe only one couple is still together, and that is just plain sad. If you’re thinking that people don’t know how to stick things out any more, I think you’d be thinking right.
Folks have often asked us what the secret is to staying married for so long. So I thought I would take this opportunity to pass along our answer to that question.
I asked David to dictate to me his answer to that question, and this is what he had to say: You need to respect each other’s ideas and opinions, even though they might not be your own; find the topics you are both most passionate about and try very hard not to argue over them. Respect, encourage and support the other person’s dream. That is very important. Time away from each other, if not taken to the extreme, is a necessary thing—don’t live in each other’s back pockets. Above all, you have to trust and respect the person you’re married to. If you do all these things there’s no reason not to have a long and stable marriage. If you have that stable platform, you can find happiness together—happiness is after all, a choice.
The only piece of advice I could add to what David said would be to not tell each other what to do—and to remember, it’s not about getting your own way all the time, or even most of the time. It’s about getting along.
Like everything, having a long lasting marriage is a choice. Yes, you both have to make that choice. David and I did that a long time ago. We talk to each other a lot, and that, also in my opinion is key. You have to have a relationship between you from the beginning. It can’t all be about the kids because the kids grow up and move on. You have to have something between you that keeps you together.
David’s first word when I asked him what advice he would give to others was ‘respect’. He and I are in accordance with that being the most important word when it comes to describing how to make a marriage that will last. No, the first word isn’t love. Think about it for a moment. If you’re young you may not realize this but love evolves over time. It starts out exciting; then it sometimes becomes a “rote” word you say, especially if you’re going through a rough patch. When times are tough, love, being an emotion, is swayed by your other emotions—you’re tired of always trying to make 50 dollars do the work of 150, tired of the kids fighting, tired of your spouse being in a bad mood because he or she is exhausted. Stress stresses us, and plays hell with our emotions, especially love.
But respect? That doesn’t change. Respect is what you sometimes have to hang onto when the love is in the midst of one of its many metamorphoses. If you respect you partner, then you never talk against them to anyone else, not even in jest; you might not like the snappy mood he or she is in, but if you respect them, you leave them be, acknowledging they have a right to feel snappish from time to time.
If you respect you partner, and your marriage, then you behave in a loving way, even when the idea of loving him or her is a hard pill to swallow and yes—sometimes, it is exactly that.
They said it wouldn’t last, and yet it has. It’s lasted, because we were determined to make it last. We’re at 43 years and counting. And that is an accomplishment we’re both very proud of.