"So it's not gonna be easy. It's going to be really hard; we're gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me... everyday." (The Notebook, 2004).
Chatting over lunch one day, a friend shared how she spent the Christmas holidays with her 87 year-old Grandfather in law. It had been three years since his wife of over 60 years had passed away. In life he loved and adored her and in death he still spoke of her as if it was the first day that he fell in love. His eyes lit up, his voice was youthful and exciting when he spoke of her laugh and quirkiness, and the way that he gestured, all showed how much he still loved her.
Years ago, I remember attending a party where he and his wife were in attendance. How sweet they were. Through the many years of marriage, they still managed to whisper sweet somethings into each other's ear, share a smile, and at times a gentle kiss. They would giggle while watching their great grandchildren play. I was probably in my early 20s and at that time with my first love, my husband today. I remember thinking, "I hope that I grow up to be just like them."
What was it that made them have such a strong and happy marriage?
My friend with tears in her eyes shared how they celebrated Christmas and how he reminisced about her, all the moments that they shared, and how she was always with him. Even not being there with my friend and her family, I too felt emotional because love is so special and the sad thing is that in this day and age, it seems like it is not as valuable, comes with a price, and is not long lasting. Having a love like theirs may be the secret to happiness in marriages.
With a love story like theirs, what makes long-term marriages successful? According to the American Psychological Association's article Happy Couples: How to keep your relationship healthy, 40% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. I was so driven by my friend's story that I wanted to find out from others who were married for more than 15 years, "What makes your marriage successful?" I decided to survey over 25 marriages to see the common thread in their successful and happy marriages. What I found seems simple, however, like many of the couples reported it requires dedication, consistency, and you must work at it. I have taken all their responses and turned it into a commitment of promises that couples can make to each other. Something to work on every wonderful day of your lives together.
We will make our marriage a priority and understand that divorce is not an option.
We will always communicate with each other regardless of the situation.
We will be each other's best friend.
We will be honest, candid, and caring in our conversations.
We will be there for each other through the good and the bad.
We will be flexible.
We will never lose sight of why we fell in love.
We will always make sure that we carve out time for each other.
We will promise not to get others involved in our problems.
We will speak the language of love daily.
We will love each other deeply.
We will agree to make each other happy.
We will do silly things like running in the rain.
We will agree to surprise each other with little things like cards, cleaning the house, etc.
We will agree to have great sex.
We will agree to have fuzzy, warm hand holding and cuddling.
We will live every day in gratitude.
We will be sensitive to each other's needs, feelings, and space.
We will work on our marriage every day.
We will forgive each other and move forward.
We will agree to laugh and cry together.
We will make spirituality (God) a priority.
We will be selfless.
We will eat together daily.
We will share the chores.
We will surprise each other by cooking a favorite meal, going dancing, etc.
We will make time to have date night.
We will be spontaneous.
We will work as a team.
We will make sure that we share passion and intimacy.
We will make sure to have our daily dose of humor.
We will have patience for each other.
We will agree to not sweat the small things.
We will agree to disagree.
We will respect each other.
We will be loyal to each other.
We will never go to bed angry.
We will make sure that there are lots of daily kisses and cuddles.
We will never talk badly of each other.
We will remember that we are a representation of each other.
We will love our children.
We will support each other's decision.
We will always remember to laugh with each other.
We will accept each other for each other's imperfections.
We will try to be positive in all of our interactions.
We will respect each other every day of our lives.