Today is my anniversary – today I celebrate being married to the same man for thirty-seven years. If someone asked me where the years have gone, I would plead ignorance; unless I look in the mirror or hear and feel my joints creak when I’m going up or down the stairs, I find it difficult to remember that I’m thirty-seven years older than I was the day I said, “I do.”
So what are the secrets to two people living together in harmony for thirty years or more? Does it depend on the alignment of the moon and stars? Is it fate, good luck, careful planning? Or are there tips each person in a relationship can follow to maximize their chance of success?
Here are my Top 10 Tips to a Lasting Relationship (in no particular order):
1. Promise never to go to bed angry with each other; yesterday I performed some simple math and calculated that over the years my husband and I have spent an equivalent of three and a half months staying up all night in order to keep this promise to each other.
2. Don’t make mean jokes about each other’s siblings, parents or extended family members; you just never know when your old Uncle Bert or deadbeat sister Bethany will arrive on your doorstep to embarrass YOU, and your partner will never let you forget it if you’ve been mean about his or her family.
3. Decide early on in your union how you will handle the family finances; fortunately my husband and I haven’t really had this quandary since we don’t actually have ‘family finances’, we have bills and more bills and once in awhile, we have Chinese take-out.
4. Agree not to disagree in front of your children; children can smell discord and will quickly apply the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy to get what they want. In front of your kids, think “United Nations.”
5. Plan romantic get-a-ways, even if just for a few days or a weekend stay at a bed-and breakfast; over the years my husband and I have spent several nights above a funeral home in Connecticut, in a sewer-smelling cabin in Jasper National Park, and in a low-end bed-and-breakfast in Edinborough, Scotland where we made sure to put our shoes on before stepping out of bed in the morning and avoided the bathroom sink altogether. Romantic get-a-ways such as these are sure to keep the fires of passion stoked.
6. If there are times you can’t think of anything nice to say about your chosen one, choose to say nothing at all; this practice leads to a wonderful sense of peace and quiet in your home since there will be weeks upon end when neither of you will be speaking to the other.
7. Don’t brag about past loves; my husband and I are childhood sweethearts so never really had past loves to brag about-but I’m sure that if we had some, we would have shown tremendous restraint and not boasted about them unless copious amounts of alcohol was involved.
8. Remember what drew you to each other in the first place; if your knight-in-shining-armour becomes a businessman in a two-piece suit, or your hair-to-the-waist dreamer becomes a grey-haired, always on the go mother of two children, close your eyes once in awhile and remember.
9. Look after your physical appearance, especially as the years advance; if I notice unwanted hair growing from my husband’s ears or nose I suggest that he snip them off with the wonderful ‘personal groomer’ I gave him for our anniversary five years ago, and if he notices anything about my appearance that he thinks should be changed, he remains silent about it.
10. Maintain a sense of humour, because sometimes it is likely the only thing that will get you through a rocky patch; if you laugh with someone often enough, it’s difficult to call it quits.
So there you have it, my personal list of 10 tips to help a relationship not only survive, but to thrive over the years. Let me know if you try any of these wonderful tips; I’d love to know which ones you found most useful.