How can you keep your marriage fresh, fulfilling and fun? Here's 4 more ways to keep it growing.
"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success," according to industrialist Henry Ford. A successful marriage also requires long-term commitment to staying and working together by both partners.
My marriage of over 35 years continues to feel successful due to the small moments much bigger than the milestones, including becoming grandparents of twins last year. I was reminded of this recently when my husband, Glenn, sweetly whispered how much he loves me in the dark at 5AM.
Our cats had just awoken us both to remind us to let them outside for their morning prowl. I truly felt loved when he accommodated them and allowed me to sleep undisturbed under warm cozy covers for a few more hours.
In my previous article, 4 Awesome Ways to Stay Happy in a LONG Marriage, I shared insights from our years together as well, as some I've learned from other couples whose marriage is also "a long conversation."
Here are 4 more ways to thrive in a long marriage:
1. Be more considerate of your partner than your friends. I donʼt do this as much as I should, but my friend Judy—who has shared a farm in Northern California without electricity or running water with her boyfriend Bill for nearly forty years—claims this is the key to their relationship. She wonders why people treat those they live with and love with less consideration than people they only see occasionally.
This sounds logical of course, but few people actually treat their loved ones with as much respect or compassion as people they barely know, but want to impress. When I treat Glenn badly, Judyʼs advice springs to mind. It quickly reminds me to apologize and change my responses since Glenn is one of the most important people in my life.
2. Stay independent, while also being together. The most noticeable key to our marriage, I believe, is the way Glenn and I give each other the freedom to do things separately, in addition to what we do together.
For example, we have always kept our finances separate except for one joint account. So weʼre not concerned about what the other spends or earns, but have always taken care of our share of joint expenses. We also pitch in if one has a cash flow crunch. This may not work for every marriage, but it's worked surprisingly well for us.
In addition, we each have our own friends and activities outside the ones we share. But we donʼt feel left out or jealous when we spend time separately since we truly appreciate what we do together.
These days, most of our together-time is spent going to movies or traveling, especially to visit our daughter and her family. Meanwhile, maintaining our individual interests actually fuels our life-long bond, as we never feel we need to get "permission" to do things we enjoy when the other doesnʼt.
3. Keep evolving in mind, body, and spirit. While no one expands personally at the same rate, Glenn and I have each evolved during our decades together and expect this to continue until our lives are complete. We read a lot, take and also teach many classes, and are committed to living interesting and fulfilling lives.
As we continue to grow, we havenʼt grown apart. Experiencing new things together and also separately keeps us interesting to each other, and to ourselves.
4. Be there for each other in tough times. When each of our parents became ill over the past two decades, we supported each other through multiple crises. We helped each other in practical ways, as well as giving each other emotional comfort.
Knowing we had each other to rely on as we moved our respective parents into nursing homes relieved our stresses a bit; Glennʼs dad deteriorated from cancer, his mother lost her eyesight, and my parents both suffered strokes. As they each passed away in their own time, we appreciated how we would also be there for each other in our final years, no matter what happens. I believe that's one of the most important reasons to nurture life-long relationships, and it's priceless.
As French essayist and author Andre Maurois said, "A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day." The glue between the bricks of this invisible edifice gets refreshed by doing any of the things noted above. If you keep evolving together and supporting each other, your long conversation will feel complete whenever it ends.