If Dad were still alive, today he and Mom would be celebrating their 60th anniversary. Because he is not, later today, Mom will receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers from their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Dad’s memory and in honor of their long marriage.
Opposites attract, and that was certainly true in their case. Although, as Mom would remind me, just being husband and wife is opposite enough. After a short courtship, Dad shipped out to fight in the Korean War. The remainder of their courtship was chronicled in a suitcase full of airmailed letters. When he returned, they married, and for six decades they remained wholly committed to one another.
While many of us may never live to see our 60th anniversary, we can all take steps to ensure our own marriage or partnership lasts a lifetime.
Living an honest, open and true life means many things. One of the things it means is to keep the commitments we make, such as the commitment we make to our partner. I believe the secret to a lasting marriage is to not only make that commitment, but to make a habit of showing that commitment to one another. Knowing each of us is committed to the relationship won’t eliminate all the bumps in the road, but it gives us sure footing for regaining our balance when we falter.
I have listed eight ways to show commitment as a way to get you thinking about your own marriage or partnership. You may well have other ideas to add. I have used the word MARRIAGE to help you remember these eight habits. I call them habits because as key components to an honest, open and true relationship, we need to practice them daily.
M The habit of Marital fidelity is critical, just ask any spouse whose husband or wife has been unfaithful.
A The habit of Acceptance of each other’s foibles and faults. We love in spite of our spouse’s shortcomings.
R The habit of Responsibility for our own actions, and for acting in the best interests of our spouse and children.
R The habit of Relationship. To relate means to be connected to one another, like a two-lane bridge connects two banks of a river. A Relationship is strongest when each person builds a lane all the way to the other person, rather than stopping halfway and expecting the other person to connect in the middle.
I The habit of Interpersonal communication, shared with clarity and honesty of sentiment, an openness to hear a contrary view, and the willingness to understand there is no single version of the truth.
A The habit of Actions that speak louder than words. It’s more than sharing household chores and child care. It is also date nights, cuddling, nursing care in sickness and pampering in celebration. It’s forgiving and forgetting.
G The habit of Gratitude, both felt and expressed. Gratitude, both felt and expressed, increases our own of satisfaction. That’s probably no surprise. What may surprise you is that our own feeling of gratitude increases our spouse’s feeling of satisfaction in the marriage.
E The habit of Emotional support. It can be as simple as speaking well of each other to others and keeping personal disagreements private. Emotional support can also be a vote of confidence despite the odds, a hug of comfort in failure, and helping our spouse confront the worst fears.
Marriages are made not on a wedding day, but through a lifetime of commitments made, kept, and expressed.
Happy 60th Anniversary, Mom and Dad
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Do you aspire to celebrate your wedding anniversary for all of your remaining years? How do you keep your marriage satisfying? Is one of these eight habits harder for you? Which one is hardest for your spouse?
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