I feel very grateful to say that my husband and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary!
As this time was approaching, I have been really excited to reach this milestone of 50 years of marriage! That’s a long time!
I’ve been reflecting on the past 50 years and the important ingredients of a successful married life. I’d like to share what I’ve found to be the key points in achieving longevity when so many marriages end in divorce.
So, what does it take to accomplish celebrating 50 years of marriage?
The first thing I realized was how I feel like the time has flown by! When you’re happy with yourself first and then your relationship, time goes by quickly.
I started dating my husband when I was 17 years old and he was 19. Our first date was during July 4th weekend. Then, on Valentine’s Day of the following year, he proposed. We were dating for 7 months. I was just out of high school and he was in college.
It was the 60s and back then, and not one person said we were too young. He had even asked permission from my parents, the traditional protocol back then, which of course I did not know at the time.
Although we had not been dating very long, we did have a longer engagement of 16 months. When we got married, I was 19 and he was 21.
Two idyllic kids talking and dreaming of a future together. We were in college as well as working and we both lived with our parents. We planned our future.
According to the Census Bureau, only six percent of marriages make it to their Golden Wedding Anniversary and the average length of a marriage today is eight years.
That’s a pretty dim outlook.
So, a lot of people have asked me, “How did you do it? What’s the secret of a married couple who have been together for 50 years?”
Here are 3 things you need to accomplish 50 years of marriage and still go on strong.
1. Be friends, first.
You have to be friends first. You have to want to spend time together, have shared experiences, and get to know each other’s likes and dislikes.
What shared backgrounds, values, and ideals do you both have? Find out.
This will give you the solid foundation needed for success. This doesn’t happen quickly.
You take your time to get to know someone, and really know them. Now, this was before Google and social media, so finding out every detail about someone so quickly wasn’t always possible. You had to talk to them.
There’s good and bad with the technology today that we didn’t have back 50 years ago. The socialization of getting to know someone through face-to-face context is often missed.
On the other hand, you don’t have to wait by the phone, at your house, to get a call about a possible pending date. (Yes, this was what we did.)
2. Work on communication.
As a licensed therapist, I can tell you that miscommunication is very often a big problem with couples.
Sometimes, what someone intends to tell their partner can be received or heard differently than it was intended.
People, sometimes, have selective listening. Or their mindset is not hearing the message that was meant for them to hear.
When this happens, it needs to be addressed. If there are no discussions, hurt or angry feelings can and most often arise. Sometimes, those feelings stay with people for many years.
Clarity of what you mean to say is important.
It’s also important to mention that your every thought does not need to be expressed. Using a filter of sorts to what you say is often a good idea. After all, once words are expressed, they cannot be taken back.
3. Have respect and patience.
When you’re in a relationship for a long time, you realize a number of things. Listening — really listening — to your partner is more important than talking.
Both people need to feel they are able to share their feelings and be heard by the other without judgment. Often, this can be difficult when you want to get your point across, especially in a disagreement.
It’s good for a couple to see what works best for them. Establish your own boundaries for this kind of conversation.
One person goes first without interruption, then the other person goes, and then you should have a discussion of both of your points of view.
This takes a great deal of respect for the other person. And that’s something that’s of utmost importance for a 50-year marriage to work.
Love, of course, is too. There has to be great love for each other. But, love is not enough. Friendship, communication, and respect for each other are the keys to a solid relationship.
Kindness and consideration of your partner’s feelings are also important. A real relationship is not just about you. It’s about how you exist in a pair.
Celebrating 50 years and counting.
After 50 years of marriage, three married sons, and two granddaughters, I’m so grateful for every day.
And I can honestly say that I’m so happy to be able to see my husband every day, kiss him before we part from each other, and then kiss him again when we both return home.
I feel peace and happiness every night when we go to sleep together.
I wish this for all couples — for them to achieve the milestone of a Golden Wedding Anniversary, too.
Mindi Lampert is a licensed mental health counselor and has counseled more than 10, 000 children for more than 20 years. Her book, Elementary Thoughts, is written especially for parents as a tool of parental enlightenment and awareness into a child’s thoughts, insights, pressures, and fears. For more information, visit her website.