Tips from a 41 Year Marriage:
From our 41 years of marriage, Anne and I offer you 3 tips to help you find greater happiness in your marriage. In turn, we encourage you to email us care of this website with valuable lessons from your marriage.
When we got married on June 26, 1965, Anne was just 19 and I was 20. And times were tough.
I had lost my job and had flunked out of college. She didn’t have a job and we had $900 to our name. Then times got tougher for us.
To fight the Vietnam War there was a massive troop buildup and I was at the top of the draft list (1-A). “It was my worst nightmare that you would end up in Vietnam,” Anne said recently. Each day, we tensely sorted the mail, looking for my draft notice.
As icing on the cake, with both of us unemployed, there was no money coming in to pay our bills.
And because I was sure to be drafted soon, no one would hire me.
Then one day as I braced for yet another job rejection, a college kid in a summer job at Douglas Aircraft Co., as a kind gesture hired me. To this day, I am deeply indebted to him.
Anne then got a job with the phone company and finally we had some income to pay our bills.
As for the military, they never drafted me. All these years later, I don’t know why but I’m thankful they didn’t. Later, Anne became pregnant and they lowered my draft status and never took me.
As for college, my dream was to join the computer industry and for a year and half I pursued IBM, who dominated the industry but they wouldn’t hire me. Then suddenly, they did and I was thrilled. But in the next moment, they said to keep that job I had to graduate from college. My heart sank.
I made an immediate appointment with the dean at Cal State Los Angeles, where I’d flunked out and raced over there. Desperately I pleaded for one more chance but he kept saying “No.” Then after what seemed like an eternity of rejection, he hesitantly gave-in: with tough terms.
I could return on probation if I could average a “B” at a junior college taking classes he would help select. I agreed, got “A’s” and returned to Cal State full-time, while working at IBM full-time.
Because I was a full-time student and a full-time employee, I’d come home at 2 am from work and by 7 am; I’d leave for school. After a year and half of this brutal schedule I graduated from college and it was worth every bit the effort.
Our problems got solved but life always has new challenges and we learned to tackle them as a couple. From our 41 years of marriage, here are 3 tips to help you find greater happiness in your marriage:
“I love you.” Everyone wants to hear these beautiful words yet we seldom speak them. Don’t wait another moment. Get on the phone if you need to. Tell that special person, “I love you” and from now on, say it often. It will come back to you many times over.
Within you is a great capacity for love: To give it and to receive it. But with time and experience, we become skeptics and protective of our vulnerability. We want people to love us but we don’t want to be rejected, hurt or have other people think less of us for our feelings.
We become protective of those feelings and we build walls around them. Instead of rejoicing in love, we hide it, especially some of us men, who treat it as a sign of weakness. Instead, feel that love for it is in every bit of your being and express it, for it can move your spirit and deeply touch the heart of your marital partner, as Anne and I have learned.
A “hug.” This is one of the most powerful connections between people. Even without words, it can express your sympathy or let others share your joy or feel your love.
For many years, I thought hugs were too “touchy-feely” and missed out on closeness with Anne and with other people dear to me. Perhaps you can easily relate to this.
“Forgiveness.” We all make mistakes, but if the two of you can forgive each other, you can focus on your happiness together instead of the hurtful errors in the past.
In 1974, Anne and I put a “Snoopy” sticker on our bathroom mirror in which cute little Snoopy with his soft eyes and big snout apologetically offers his nose. The caption: “A kiss on the nose does much toward turning aside anger.” We have used a gentle kiss on the nose ever since.
Success Tip of the Week: There is no perfect love or perfect marriage for we are all human with the failings to match. But if you want to experience love and fulfillment, let your guard down and put your trust in your marital partner. You won’t find perfection but together you may find the bliss your hearts have always been seeking.
In the next KazanToday: Tips from a 70 Year Marriage.