So much is written about high divorce rates, but a little known important piece of information is that there are many, many long marriages ranging 30-40 years and up. How do these couples do it? What's the effect on their children and their children's children?
12 Ways Couples Make a Commitment to Better or Worse
1. There is a state of mind when you get married that this is for the long haul. With that in mind couples fare longer and better.
2. Couples who are married for a long time go through developmental stages together sometimes including late adolescence, early adulthood, middle adulthood, and beyond.
3. These couples learn how to grow up together. They see each other changing or not changing and are inspired by each other.
4. These couples develop a body language that they can read very well knowing how to understand each other sometimes without words.
5. However, they also learn to communicate verbally. They learn what to say, when to say it, and sometimes when not to express themselves.
6. These couples often lead both dependent and independent lives allowing each other to grow in different directions while sharing their new enterprises and adventures with each other.
7. These couples learn how to be affectionate with each other in the ways that each are comfortable with.
8. These couples find that the word love takes on different meanings as they become deeply invested in each other. They find ways to share and express that love.
9. All couples argue and disagree but these couples learn how to resolve differences even when it may take a while. They don't give up.
10. These couples truly believe that there are troubling times that they will make sure to get through together over time. It's a commitment that isn't lost when sometimes the other person doesn't feel understood.
11. Empathy grows with couples. They learn how to understand each others vulnerabilities and strengths and support each other when they are feeling lost and confused.
12. The main thing is believing in each other, developing trust, feeling a sense of security with each other, and appreciating and valuing each other.
The Effects on Children
• When children see their parents express themselves to each other, they learn to do the same.
• They accept that people need support when they feel vulnerable and have models for how to give that support.
• These children learn about appreciating others even when they disagree with you.
• They also see their parents have fun, enjoy a good sense of humor, and share in their learning experiences.
The most remarkable effect is that when these children grow up and decide to have families of their own, they find a mate that values long term commitments because that's what they have witnessed for decades. There is a deep love that is transmitted from parents to kids and then to those adult kids having kids.
A long term relationship is what they come to expect and look for. A readiness to love despite frustration, disappointment, changing values and new learning experiences is their norm.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold.