Marriage is the commitment of joining two vastly different people who have their own personalities, traditions, values and expectations. Melding those into an acceptable compromise is a formidable task and isn’t always successful.
This is when love pokes its head into the mix. That early attraction and passion that brought you together must have some meaning to make it worth the effort to find the path you both wish to continue to travel. There is no guarantee how rocky, crooked and rough that path may be but sometimes you just know and see there is light at the end of the tunnel and you travel holding hands and struggling forward.
Love and passion are the first stepping stones of many in marriage. Hopefully those attributes never fade completely away, but over the years their intensity becomes lessened as life just pushes them aside with children, job responsibilities or loss, illness, and financial concerns. It usually doesn’t take much to start the fire burning again — with just a little extra love and care — as long as you keep that fire carefully banked and glowing and never let it die out.
Two of the absolute necessities to a long marriage are trust and respect towards each other. Lies and secrets are the things that will quickly put out the fire.
Because my experience of marriage was before the advent of all the technology we enjoy today, my husband and I have always had openness that I see declining today. We don’t have anything we would not want the other to be aware of so we often open each other’s mail, read each other’s e-mails and take messages for each other on the phone. We also share every penny either one of us earns and have joint accounts. Over the years, because my husband has done some extra jobs, one of our accounts he uses more than I do and I carry the checkbook on the other.
We also never go “shopping” without an understanding of our outstanding debts so we don’t buy something expensive without the others knowledge. It took a while to achieve, but we only use credit as a convenience and have always believe in saving something.
We never make a couple’s commitment without checking with our spouse first. We’ve never restricted each other’s commitments to outside activities but sometimes in honesty I have probably felt left out at home with kids while he was out having fun without me. But I trusted he would act as if I was there so never had the worry of an affair or unfaithfulness.
That’s the example of trust and respect so that you never abuse the foundation of your marriage by actions that you knowingly know will hurt your spouse.
A long marriage is a long road with lots of bumps, but as you travel along together sharing the joys and sorrows and find yourselves close to the end of that road and still can laugh and joke and enjoy the wonderful friendship you’ve created you’ve had a successful journey.
Being a special friend, listening without criticism or even harder without advice is what makes the bonds of marriage close tightly around binding you into a cohesive partnership and friendship.
I have always love Kahlil Gibran analogy about marriage as two strings that have a song to sing but when played together they make music. May you sing beautiful songs together.
~ W. Doane, March 2014