Moderators often ask senior couples, “How did your marriage last 50 years?” I ask myself that same question, but for a different reason. 50th anniversaries are for old people sitting in wheel chairs or using walkers. I don’t need either one, so how can I be so close to mine? I’m still doing things like hiking Kanarraville Falls.
Was it easy? Not always. We had the normal ups and downs all couples do. Today I’m going to write about a few subjects that cause marital stress, and point out solutions I see.
Most important to me is our joint belief in God, and the Savior Jesus Christ. However, as important as it is, it isn’t a success/fail item. One of our sons left the church. Our daughter-in-law still believes. They have a solid marriage. I’m not privy to, nor should I be, how they make it work.
Another major sore spot in marriages: in-laws. The couple is married now. They have started a family of your own. Even if they need to live with parents for a time they and their spouse set the family rules, especially when it comes to raising children. They probably have spent a lifetime honoring and obeying parents, but as hard as it may be facing them, their new loyalty is with their spouse. Never bad-mouth the spouse in front of parents no matter how upset you are at the moment. Stick with him or her, standing up to parents if necessary. Work it out with your spouse privately.
Another point, traditions are not laws or even rules. There is no right or wrong. The other spouse also has strong feelings about how their family did things. I’ll use Christmas as an example. Perhaps family A always baked Christmas cookies together. Maybe family B thought buying special ingredients and baking cookies was a waste of money and time. Perhaps family B bought Christmas cards for each person in the family. That was a waste of money for family A. Cards were for friends and family that lived far away. The new family they should take some of his and some of hers, even more important create new ones all their own.
Next is a big one—finances. Work out the details together—situations vary: Do both of you work? Is one better at math? Is one thriftier than the other? Most often, one spouse takes care of the finances; however, the other spouse must know what’s going on. I had a friend who kept the books. One night, she didn’t come home from K-mart. Her body was found in the trunk of her car. He had no idea what bills they had. In the first few weeks fake bills came in. It took him months and professional help to get things straightened out. You must go over finances together.
Couples need to put each other and their relationship before children. Children grow up and leave the nest. If a couple has been living in 2 different worlds, they won’t know each other. We hear about couples that divorce after 30 years or more of marriage and we ask why. Often, one big reason is they have grown apart. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. You may never agree on the best type of movie or book. Look for things you both like to do, and concentrate on those. Learn a little about your spouse’s interests. If it’s sports, learn the rules. If it’s dancing, take lessons. Set aside pride and the “I am always right” attitude. By the way, gravity works just as well no matter whether the most-important-paper-in-the-world is over or under. Don’t sweat the stuff.
We’ve made it for 50 years, and you can too.