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Three More Ways to Stay

Chocolates HeartAs my husband and I approach our silver anniversary, there are two things that keep me wondering.

  • How can this be when we, obviously, aren’t that old?
  • Why are we still so in love after all these years?

Seeing so many people my age who’ve been through the wringer in relationships, I feel very blessed in mine. In many ways, I know it was pure luck that the guy I fell in love with at 21 — when I had such limited life experience — turned out to have the very traits most necessary for a long-term, loving relationship. But there are a few things we’ve done right by design, as well.

I recently read an interesting post about what it takes to stay. When compared with the constant drive many of us have to find the best new thing or experience, this post focused on how to sustain the goodness of what you’ve already found.

In particular, this is meaningful in marriage. How do you take what was a good relationship and continue to have a loving, caring marriage for the rest of your life? How do you stay in love for the long haul? The post lists six ways to stay. I’d like to add three more.

#7 Be Loyal

When I was a kid, there was a young man in our neighborhood who married a young woman who lived on the same block. After the wedding they moved into an apartment only a few miles away.

Whenever they had a disagreement, each of them went to their parents’ homes to complain. Later, they went home and made up. Unfortunately, the families were only part of the complaining.

When you take your personal problems to others, the problem is magnified. How you would you feel if your husband or wife went to his or her friends to rant about you and describe all your failings? I’d feel deeply betrayed.

Following the golden rule is good guideline here. Unless you are in an abusive situation, your problems with your spouse should stay between you and your spouse. Work them out together, not in front of an audience.

#8 Give Service

When I had my first daughter nearly 23 years ago, I was utterly unprepared for the feelings that took over me. I had never been one of those girls who adored babies. They didn’t much interest me.

So when this tiny little bundle of girl was placed in my arms, I expected it to be an analytical exercise. Instead I was overwhelmed with responsibility and awe. And it was through the days and nights of caring for her — without any expectations in return — that I grew to love her so completely.

The same, I think, is true of all human relations. We love those we serve. In spite of what modern culture says, giving service is not demeaning. It does not make us less. It does not make us doormats. Serving the person you are married to isn’t enslaving. It is pure, liquid love.

#9 Make Out All the Time — Preferably In Front of Your Children

This is only partly in jest. Yes, it’s great to gross out your kids by being mushy in front of them. But apart from that, try to remember that your husband was once your boyfriend and your wife was once your girlfriend. Keep it that way.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Dana April 3, 2010, 8:04 pm

    much congrats for you and your husband! You are doing great job here and I can learn a lot from your story here. 😀

  • Alison Moore Smith April 3, 2010, 11:48 pm

    Ah, thanks, Dana. I married a great guy.

  • Ileane April 4, 2010, 12:33 am

    I’m hoping to meet a guy like that one day. 🙂 I think being loyal is where a lot of problems start in relationships. But if you love someone it’s really not that difficult. Congratulations on finding wedded bliss.
    .-= Ileane @Blogging hopes you’ll read Top 10 Ways To Improve My Blogspot Blog =-.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 4, 2010, 3:38 am

    You will, Ileane. 🙂 I agree about missing loyalty. Unfortunately, I see this problem far more often in women. Women will sit around and complain about their husbands, commiserate about their husband’s weaknesses, and laugh at their husband’s similar foibles. How often do you see guys out golfing or shooting hoops, lamenting about the stupidity of their wives? If they did, the women would be all over them, would be hurt and embarrassed. It’s just not a cool thing.

  • Walter April 5, 2010, 6:40 am

    You are truly blessed to approach a silver anniversary with your husband. It only goes to show that both you and your husband have grown more mature in your relationship. Seldom do couples achieve such a level of growth. 🙂

  • Alison Moore Smith April 5, 2010, 2:45 pm

    Thank you, Walter. I’d like to propose an alternative. Maybe Sam is just remarkably patient and wonderful!

  • Tara Mohr April 6, 2010, 5:11 pm

    I love this Alison. So glad you enjoyed my article about what it takes to stay.
    These are great additions, especially #9 🙂
    For me, #7 is more nuanced. I do think that going off to complain to other people is an escape mechanism that often just worsens problems in a relationship. That being said, I do think there are ways of talking to others about your relationship challenges that can be healthy and important. Most of the time, I can bring issues directly to my husband and work them out there. But sometimes, there’s something I can’t get perspective on, or feel stuck about how to bring up. I’ll bring it one of a few close friends who I think can help me think it through. I guess the distinction I’m making is all about intention – bringing something to friends to complain, strengthen my position or gossip = not good. Bringing it to them to process and get perspectives I value when I’m stuck? Sometimes that’s a very good thing for my marriage.
    Warmly, Tara

  • Alison Moore Smith April 6, 2010, 6:51 pm

    Hi, Tara, thanks for stopping by.

    I understand your distinction, but — outside abusive situations, etc. — I’d say the ration of harm to good is about 100/1. People rarely have the discipline and objectivity to really keep such discussions in appropriate bounds. In fact, I’d be willing to say it almost never happens — even though the person engaged in conversing about their spouse with others always claims/believes it is.

    To me, the deciding factor is: What would I want my spouse to do to me?

    When I talk to women, I have never once had a woman say, “Yes, I’d be fine if my husband discussed my problems with his buddies while shooting hoops or drinking a beer! Totally fine!” Yea, tell them how it bugs you that I’ve gained 30 pounds since having the babies, that I watch too much TV, that I nag, or that I’m always too tired for sex. Yea, I’m totally cool with that — as long as you just need perspective because you’re “stuck” about how to talk to me.

    See what I mean? 100% of the time I talk to women in person about their own failings, they get defensive and, when specific, acknowledge that they would feel humiliated and betrayed if their husbands took their personal failings and imperfections to their friends to chat about.

    I figure if I expect and hope my husband will keep my issues “in house,” I figure he deserves the same respect from me. Rather than take it to my friends, I think it’s my job to unstick myself. 🙂 If I can’t figure out how to bring it up or how to get perspective, I’m just going to shut my mouth until I can work though my inability to communicate — and then I’ll discuss it with him.

  • Shelice August 11, 2010, 6:22 am

    Amen sister!

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