What makes for a successful marriage? What can be done about marital problems? Valentine's Day offers an opportunity to reflect on how to be happily married.
In my previous post, Laurie shared what she might have done differently in her marriage, which ended in divorce.
Now, Jacqueline, a 70-year-old retired radio producer, tells how she maintained harmony and happiness in her marriage, despite challenges.
What recipe would you give your children for a happy marriage?
I still love best what Kahlil Gibran said on this topic: "Drink together but not from the same cup."
What is the best thing you did to keep your spouse happy?
Laugh at his jokes and make some of my own.
In what ways did you hold back to keep the peace?
Often I simply backed off and busied myself in another activity. But sometimes I simmered about what I hadn't said and that is not so great. Other times I spoke my mind, in some instances with irritation, and then disengaged. That seemed to work better because after a small lapse of time, we were usually milder again with one another
What was the greatest challenge you have had to deal with in your marriage and how did you handle it?
My husband had a large family—just one sister but many first cousins. They were close. Too close for my taste. With a few exceptions, they did not have the same notions of privacy and personal boundaries that I did—a totally different subculture. I just got along with them anyway, telling myself that I didn't have to live with them and to let it go. And my husband went to perhaps 20% more events with them than I did. My customary limit was not more than one a month. My husband and I were together for 33 years before he died. This strategy worked fine for 32 years. In the last year, when he was dying of cancer, I found their behavior just about intolerable. It seemed to me they made a lot of noise about their concern and love for him and spent almost no actual time with him. At that point, other than cordial communications from time to time, I just completely separated myself from what for me were tiresome, insensitive and disheartening interactions. I do not miss them.
When you and your spouse disagreed, how did that play out; i.e, how did you argue, discuss, resolve disputes, etc.?
We'd argue it out and, particularly as our relationship matured, compromise. It was okay.
How did you keep the passion alive?
We laughed a great deal, teased and played with each other. After 33 years, there was still good chemistry between us.
What other tips do you have for successful marriages?
A couple nights a week, when possible, enjoy a delicious home-made dinner together at your own dining room table, kids or no kids. Plan recreational time that you really enjoy or happily anticipate. Remain willing to have adventures together. And keep company as a couple with people you genuinely like to be with.
See my bio for links to all my relationship posts, healthy recipes, organization articles, and more as well as to my blog Confessions of a Worrywart and to my new memoir, Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others.