51 Years-Impossible to BelieveAug 12, 2022
I never thought marriage was a good idea. At the time that I was growing up, I knew it was "required" for a woman. In that era, women who didn't marry were considered "losers" or weird. But the marriages I saw around me looked awful for the women.
What I saw on television did not match the women around me. Donna Reed with pearls vacuuming and June Cleaver caring for her family with a husband who handled all the problems of family life were far from the women I saw who worked very hard every day with lots of babies.
College came first as a backup in case anything happened to a husband and so I did what was expected and became engaged to marry right after college. I fell in love with my husband who is a loving and caring man. This is not about the wonderful man he is. It is about Marriage.
The night before I married my Dad said to me "You can call this off if you want. You don't have to go through with this but if I searched the world over I don't believe I could find a better person for you." He understood my feelings about the institution as I witnessed him in two unhappy unions. He told me it is hard and not always great, but it is worth it. So I jumped in with my loving partner.
Now 51 years later I am shocked and grateful that we are enjoying life together. Truly when I hear long-married people share how they had wedded bliss throughout their marriage I wonder what planet they live on. We have worked hard to keep moving forward as one grows in one way and the other has to catch up or one has views on life that the other doesn't share.
I believe in my mind I have been divorced and remarried many times. And there have been times when neither of us liked each other very much but we kept going and here we are now! I don't believe that every couple is meant to stay together for 50+ years. There can be many reasons why the individuals in marriage came together for a purpose and that changes. Amicable moving on to the next phase of life is the hoped-for stage when that happens.
As I have reflected on why we stayed together I have determined three factors. There is so much more than these three but if we did not have these I don't think we could have made it. I humbly share with you in case they may serve you. I think they apply to more than marriage but they certainly help us still today.
1. A shared belief in something greater than us alone and the power of the marriage. We do have a shared faith which helps but this thought is more than that. We made a commitment to a belief that spirit or divine was part of our union. So when we felt like we wanted to give up we checked in and determined if this was just our ego or really worth ending.
We believed in the energy of being married. It was a bond that needed to be really broken to end it. There were some times that we seriously considered it but realized that we were the broken ones-not the marriage. So we addressed our own issues individually and sometimes together. We both had to be healed in many areas in life and we are grateful that we had each other to support us in our weak times.
2. Community Support has always been around us. This can be family, friends, groups we belong to, and even strangers. Each person in our life plays a different role. Some bring wisdom, some bring shared values, and some bring humor. There are old friends and new people that we may only know for a short time. There are people I know that my husband doesn't know who nourish me and I bring that back to our union.
There are groups we choose to participate in together-like our volunteer police support. These people have no idea how they support us-but doing volunteer work together and being known as a couple brings new ideas and shared experience that nourishes us.
3. Although this may seem ridiculous: I almost think this focus is the most important. Laughter is critical. There are times when we don't like each other very much or we are holding different positions on something and it gets really tense. We may be acting civil but we both know this is not a good time. We may be acting very carefully with each other to avoid an explosion. 99% of the time a really good belly laugh is all we need to reconnect.
The laugh is usually so spontaneous and we just let it jiggle us all over. It could be a joke we tell, a show we watch, or an event that we talk about. It is as if our system knows we need this. The air clears and we move on.
Also, we try to laugh regularly. There is always something to laugh about. I make it a daily practice for myself!
So these are my simple tools for keeping together. Yes, there is much more to make a marriage work, but anyone can have and use these. I am still not sure about marriage as an institution, but I am grateful, appreciative, and value that I have been blessed with a loving partner with whom to grow and share the ups and downs of raising a family and growing to the next stage of life.
I am personally committed to helping others who realize that their marriage may need a re-energize or reboot to get to a joyful place and if not to find a way to gracefully exit. If you know anyone in need of this support send them this post and have them click on this link to receive a complimentary marriage boost session.
As always, Sheran
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