What One Man Learned From 40 Years of Marriage

a 40-year-old married couple kissing

I’ve only been married for five years, but I’d say that this guy’s got a pretty good bead on it.

Click here to read the full article and if you have ONE pearl of wisdom to add to his list, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

Join our conversation (12 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Beautiful. Nice, idyllic storybook life, this elusive yet yearned for  ‘four decades of marriage’.    It seems more  rare, remote and antique.    It was like taking a  time machine back  through the writers eyes to  way the world was in the 1950s or 60s. The writer is from a different generation, (one where every one got married to their first love, or the first person they kissed). That is in the distant past, their relationship does not   resemble the courtship habits of todays kids- browsing online dating sites, social media, easy availability of porn,  upgrading, sampling, the slow fade, the neg,   “in the moment”, consequence-free treatment of people. She’s great, but can I do better? I want to keep my options open and explore until the last possible biological/socially acceptable minute. Oh My. The world has changed!   Is this happy ever after with no drama, earnest love,  steadfast contentment  and steady progression still even possible?    If yes, where do guys like this live?    Maybe in small town  USA, or just look for  older  men?   Commitment, industriousness, community, chastity, respect  and integrity have slowly (quickly?) eroded and the younger generations seem to be a totally different species and kingdom altogether.   I don’t envy them.   Will any one 30 yrs old or under have stories like this in old age? What percentage? Does the census collect this data? The average US marriage nowadays is how long?

  2. 2

    Anon, we have raised a generation that eschews tradition in favor of that next big, new thing.   You can’t have that when you commit to one person for 40 years.   I do not think we are better as a result.   I thought I had learned a great deal about marriage from watching my parents, but really I didn’t learn as much as I should have.   I got married at a young age with out really knowing how to make a good marriage after the wedding.   It ended in 12 years and we were probably lucky we had that long of a run.   I guess the good news in all of that is, I learned, albeit the hard way.   I haven’t been in a hurry to get remarried or even in a relationship not so much because I thought there is nobody out there for me (and believe me, I’ve entertained that notion) but because I’m not sure I am right for anybody.   I still have plenty of room to grow and be the person I’d like to marry.   At least I get that much.

  3. 3

    Nice letter, but we have to understand not all marriages in the past were great either. Men still had affairs; the difference is that wives had to look past it because it meant they were giving up security if they didn’t. I think people today still have marriages like this man.  
    Women had a affairs, of course. But I think what we learned now is while you do have to work at relationships, you also aren’t committed to a miserable marriage for life. That might mean you’re looking for something better, but if what you have is abusive and awful, then why wouldn’t you want something better? There’s nothing noble about living a life in misery.
    Just because we rode our bikes and didn’t wear helmets doesn’t mean we were tougher or no kid ever got hurt. I am sure they did. Nostalgia makes everything look better and if you really look at it, simpler times weren’t always that simple.  

  4. 4

    I love reading advice from folks who have been in the trenches for many, many years. 40 years, now that’s an accomplishment!
    To my understanding, the key to a solid, happy, and long-lasting marriage are like the three legs of a stool. All are necessary. If one leg is missing, the stool does not stay up.
    Leg 1: Specific character qualities and relationship skills necessary to create and nurture a monogamous relationship that will be intimate at the physical and emotional levels.
    Leg 2: Compatibility of life goals and values so that both partners look into the same direction.
    Leg 3: Desire to commit to the commitment, understanding that it will be difficult at times, and willingness to persevere through harder times.
    Successful couples from the “old ages” do not always know why they are successful because back then, couples would form without overanalyzing their character qualities and compatibility. If they ended up having a three-leg stool, it was more by chance than by careful consideration during dating. Child-rearing and social pressure would be the glue to keep them together regardless of the number of legs their stool actually had. Now that the social pressure is gone, couples missing a leg in their stool can easily end their marriage and try again with someone different.
    The author of this insightful letter and his wife happened to have the character qualities and commitment needed for their successful marriage. And they were fortunate to be compatible in their major life goals. How does their experience translate to our generation of greener pastures seekers? Simply by developing Leg 1 and 3 before even starting looking for a marriage partner, and then in dating, focusing on assessing the other party’s Leg 1 and 3 while making sure that Leg 2 is strong enough to justify a relationship.
    The only difference really is that we can no longer go into marriage randomly and rely on outside glue to keep things together. The glue has to come from within.
    That’s my two cents. And my intention for my marriage.

    1. 4.1

      Wonderfully said!

  5. 5

    This couple definitely didn’t meet in a bar some 40 years ago for the relationship to last this long….TRUE ROMANCE INDEED 🙂

  6. 6

    @Justin… who’s to say that this couple didn’t meet in a bar?     Fine people can be found where you most and LEAST expect them: in the park; at Temple; lifting weights at your gym; dancing at a nightclub; volunteering at a soup kitchen; in the produce section at the supermarket; picking their kids up from school; in a Scuba Diving class; online; at the restaurant table next to yours; working in the same office as your friend’s sister-in-law; at Bible Study; at the airport baggage claim and ~ yes *gasp* ~ in your local bar.   
    Just bc you meet a guy a shul doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be a great husband.   And just bc you meet a girl in a bar doesn’t mean she could never be a wonderful wife.    To slightly misquote Evan (but I think I’m maintaining the spirit of his overall message): Judge the relationship, not the location where you met your partner.

  7. 7
    Some other guy

    “It’s not about you” – if you get this one, the rest are mostly redundant.

  8. 8

    It may be implicit in the article, but I think this is worth adding:
    If you have decided to be with someone, don’t dwell on what you might perceive to be their flaws.   Focus on their positive attributes and the wonderful things they do for you and the way they express love, and as much as possible, let the rest go.
    You will both be a lot happier.

  9. 9
    Dina Strange

    Evan, i love your posts. You display wisdom way beyond your years. But what do u do if u live in a “selfish” culture. Most of guys think of relationships as options. While it’s easy and convenient, they stay, but the minute you actually need them or times get tough they run like little rabbits.
    What if a girl seeks something long term, something based on a deeper foundation than sex or having fun together. I feel that’s where real test of relationship comes in.

  10. 10

    I just read your article on Xfinity re: interesting dates for “over 50’s”   I’m 64 and all I can say is that you’ve mistaken “over fifty” for over 85.   I go to Zumba and Jazzercise where the oldest dancers are pushing 80 and MOVE baby!   My best friends and I ALSO swim 60 to 150 laps in my 30′ pool several times a week.     My husband and I are, shall we say, “active”.   I run   my own company and plan to for at least 5 more years.   Over 50’s these days are NOT my grandma.   My dad rode his bike over 25 miles a day until a week before he died at 85.   He married a couple of years before that–built and new house and participated in the move himself.     All I can say is–rethink who the “over-50s” are.   You’ve missed us by a country mile!

  11. 11

    Cookie 10 – love it.   It just makes me laugh when I hear what women of 50, 60 and 70 (80, 90, 100 are supposed to be doing!) Cracks me up, truly.
    We define ourselves – not other people.   Physically, I can do most things I did at 30 (a bit slower but hell, some of them in their 30s can’t do it either!!!), don’t have false teeth (or false anything else for that matter!) and maybe, when no one’s looking, I’ll admit to having to take it a bit slower in the morning to get up.
    Fashionwise? I don’t wear high heels anymore (they’re out of fashion, isn’t that GREAT????), my make-up is softer, and most people don’t believe I’m 60.

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