Celebrating a milestone like our 30th wedding anniversary is a "shout it from the rooftops", "pat yourself on the back" type of festivity. It most certainly seems like the perfect time for me to consider exactly how we got here and what contributed to our success. Long lasting marriages are statistically rather improbable. Divorce rates are high, but so many different factors can contribute to the demise of a marriage.
Believe me, anyone who has been married this long knows without a doubt how difficult it can be as well as enriching, even magical.
My husband Craig and I met so young that I can barely remember life without him in it. We met when we were only 15 and 16 in our high school Spanish class. We sat alphabetically and he sat directly behind me. Yes it was love at first sight, but a marriage takes much more than love to be successful. We dated for 7 years with a few breakups and heartbreaks during that time, but ultimately we were the perfect match.
A successful marriage should be a resumé topper, the icing on the proverbial cake of accomplishments. I am incredibly proud of us and so fortunate to have found the man of my dreams who has given me a glorious life.
However, don't think for one second that our life together has not been filled with many challenges. We have faced it all; illness, corporate downsizing, financial hardship, interpersonal difficulties, parenting...the list is long. Just because a life looks serene and effortless on the outside, doesn't mean there isn't a lot of work happening on the inside. These issues are not necessarily unique to our family; they are just part of life and many couples face similar circumstances.
Some marriages cannot withstand the pressure no matter how much effort is put into them, but in our situation, our efforts brought us wonderful success and we now are jubilant at the 30 year mark.
There are many fairly obvious attributes of a happy marriage like trust, commitment, laughter, partnership, honesty and fun. For this post I decided to focus on just a few of the "not so obvious" ones to share.
Our legacy as a couple is our loving, successful marriage, fabulous kids and how we all interacted. The joy of our family and how we worked together as partners and as a team, to make it strong and thrive is my greatest achievement. Yes, my greatest achievement.
Why not offer hope and concrete examples for how to succeed in marriage? At UCLA, I studied Psychology and interpersonal communication. Skillfully communicating with others can enhance your life in a myriad of ways. At times we need to dig deeper to find answers, and here are five less conspicuous ways to help create a rewarding marriage:
Unselfishness is sexy -- If we spend time putting our spouse first, the focus changes and we tend to give a great deal more. What an amazing feeling it is when someone else puts your needs before theirs. It is the ultimate compliment and validation of your successful partnership.
Indulge in each other's interests -- My husband Craig LOVES baseball and music. I became a knowledgeable baseball fan and learned about all of the music he is so crazy about! He indulges my passion for foodie adventures, fashion, fitness and photography. His interest for all of my endeavors is limitless. However, we are more than just supportive, we participate in each other's activities as well.
Patience -- Life is so full of ups and downs and every family will encounter countless challenges. A family member's illness, financial issues, the list can be lengthy. By approaching each issue with patience, irrational behavior is tempered, conversations are more fruitful and the end result will be more successful.
Friendship -- Within our marriage is a 30-year friendship. Haven't we always heard how people describe their spouse as their "best friend"? It seems cliché, but it is so true! I would rather spend time with him than any other person on the planet. If you asked Craig, he would say the same thing about me. If I discover something new or travel to a new place, it would never be the same without him right there beside me.
Take chances -- Be the maverick, try something that no one else is doing. Take the trip, try a new career, move to a new city. Attempting new endeavors strengthen personal development and your relationship will mature simultaneously. No one grows with out challenging himself or herself. We may possibly learn a great deal more from our failures, than we do from our triumphs. Put yourself out there, be vulnerable, share your feelings. Nothing gets resolved if you aren't talking about it or holding back your thoughts.
There is so much cynicism and negativity in the news and frankly I find it tiresome. I look for stories like ours that elevate relationships and encourage optimism. After all, when all is said and done, what else really matters but your family? We all need to have hope for the future and marriage is not easy, but it is worth it. A happy and long lasting marriage doesn't happen with a roll of the dice, it succeeds by concentrating on all of these components with intent and a great deal of focus.
This post was originally published on AdventuresofEmptyNesters.com