Friday, June 5, 2015

38 Years!

People let me tell you ‘bout my best friend,
He’s a warm-hearted person who’ll love me till the end.
–Harry Nilsson
Theme song, Courtship of Eddie’s Father

I woke up this morning with the realization I’ve been married for 38 years.  My first thought was, 38 years! How can that be?  Then I reflected back to that beautiful day 38 years ago, when the sky was blue and the sun was shining on the Long Beach Peninsula.  It was one of those rare days when the sky was so clear we could see the Olympic Mountains way off to the north.  I married my best friend that day.

We were both 19 years old.  We’d just completed our first year of college.  We had summer jobs lined up, but our bank account was close to a big fat zero.  We rented a one-bedroom apartment on the upper floor of an old house next to the railroad tracks.  He was a night owl; I am a lark.  We grew into adulthood together.

How do you go from being 19-year-old newlyweds to 57-year-old-still-on-our-honeymoon elders?  Here’s a quick list of my thoughts on how to grow a marriage:

  • Our first rule:  Don’t assume I can read your mind.  My husband posited this to me on Day #1 and we developed our communication style with that in mind.
  • Never bad-mouth your spouse.  This seems to have become a societal norm propagated by sitcoms and reality TV.  Don’t do it – period.
  • Don’t keep score.  Do what you can to help and bolster your spouse without worrying about doing more than your fair share.  If both partners live with this in mind, the selfless giving of each will blossom into a strong union.
  • Keep romance alive.  I know; life gets in the way.  Careers and children consume time and drain energy, but remember you’re in this for the long haul.  Just as regular exercise keeps the body in tune, regular romance (date nights, kind words, love notes) keeps a marriage alive.
Not a big list and there are undoubtedly many more that could be added, but these are the big ones.  We’ve followed these guidelines, initially out of dumb luck and later with intention, and they’ve served us well.  Oh, and one more key item:  marry your best friend.

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