When people learn that my husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and that we’re still happily married, their eyes grow wide. They offer hearty congratulations and tell us how impressed they are with our accomplishment. Single men and women say they hope to share our success one day. Couples just starting out want to know our secret. Other longtime marrieds give us a wink and a knowing smile. They learned the secret years ago.
In a society where long-term marriage has become an anomaly, friends and strangers want to know what makes our relationship work. So many marriages fail, even when the couple loves one other. What’s the magic glue that keeps ours together? The simple but crucial answer is: mutual respect. If a couple resolves to treat each other with kindness and consideration, no matter the circumstances, for better or worse, in sickness and health, love is bound to last.
My husband and I put our marriage first. Everything else comes next—kids, who are the product of our marriage; careers, extended family, friends, interests, and hobbies. Though our children, work, and extended family members often need our undivided attention, my husband and I still make time every day to reconnect. When we’re overwhelmed by the demands of daily responsibilities, we don’t look elsewhere for relief. We recharge with one another. Finding a few quiet moments to talk, and frequent laughter, are bullets to the external stressors that can destroy intimacy.
Despite the love we share, our twenty-five years together have not always been easy. Like most couples, we’ve had problems. We’ve faced financial challenges, career disappointments, issues with our kids, the needs of aging parents, debilitating illnesses, and life-threatening health crisis. Yet, through it all, we leaned on one another for support. Even during our darkest moments, when we didn’t feel particularly loving or lovable, we clung to each other anyway. Small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness carried us through the tough times and made the good times that followed better.
Putting the marriage first means we care about how our behavior affects our partner. We don’t snipe at one another, fight dirty, undermine or belittle each other, cheat, lie, or compete against the other. We form a united front when dealing with our kids. We celebrate each other’s successes. Forgive each other’s faults and failures. When we disagree, we work out our differences without resentment. Neither of us engages in behaviors that will hurt the other or jeopardize the relationship. Over the years, that means we’ve learned to trust. We give each other space, knowing that space will never be compromised or taken for granted.
A successful marriage needs compatibility, mutual respect, and commitment to make love last. Marital fulfillment led us to our Silver Anniversary celebration and will lead us into our Golden years. As I look ahead, a lifetime of love seems possible. What better ending for a romance author than Happily Ever After? It’s the ending we wish for everyone.
~Best, Adele Downs
Do you have a perspective on marriage you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!
The Secret To Lasting Love ©Adele Downs 2013
Photograph copyright Adele Downs 2013