My husband and I will soon celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. We got married way too young and the odds were probably stacked against us and yet, here we are so many years later and we're still together. We're not celebrities, not wealthy, not in the spotlight and not any different than anybody else who has picked a lifetime partner. We've been through some seriously great times together but we've also been through some shit and I mean real-life shit that could be way too much for some couples to withstand. So what's the key to our longevity? It's pretty simple. We're happy together, we like each other's company and we're still genuinely in love. That accounts for most of why we've been able to stick it out while other couples can't. We have other keys though and here are ten of them:
1. When you're thinking about getting married, pick someone you absolutely adore. It sets a good baseline for those times when you get on each other's nerves.
2. Make sure he/she has a sense of humor -- you're going to need it. If that sense of humor is similar to yours, you'll have a lot of fun together.
3. Don't consider your spouse a fixer-upper. The person he/she is on the day you marry is the same person he'll be 30, 40 or 50-odd years later. His habits, body, career, friends, interests and goals might change, but the person he is deep inside will remain the same. If you don't think he's fabulous as is, don't get married.
4. Expect your marriage to be a nice long road trip with smooth stretches and unpaved areas, hills, curves, valleys, ditches and quite a few speed bumps and potholes. Every now and again you might need to fix the engine and find a good mechanic, but don't forget to stop at the viewpoints, enjoy the scenery, pack good snacks and take a lot of pictures.
5. Be nicer and more compassionate to each other than to anyone else.
6. If you have children, don't make them the total focus of your marriage. They're important and distracting and they'll require a lot of your attention, but they'll only be with you for about 20 years. Your spouse will be with you for life.
7. Communication is important, but it doesn't always have to be verbal and you don't absolutely have to talk about every little thing that comes up. Leave room for silence.
8. Have your own interests, activities, friends and career. Share liberally with your spouse but don't expect him/her to be your everything.
9. Each spouse should work and contribute money to the household. It's one of the best ways to support each other. Plus, if each partner is a wage owner, the balance of give and take and power and responsibility in the relationship is more equal.
10. Don't get divorced. Plain and simple.