Okay, you may be asking yourself how I, Ann Everett, author of humorous, romance, mysteries know the five secrets to a successful marriage. Well, here are my credentials. I’ve got 45 years under my belt with the same guy and I still like him! Of course I love him too.
I recently answered an ad listed with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) if you’re not familiar with the site, I strongly recommend it. You could possibly query one of the listings and end up on TV, radio, or in a magazine article.
My husband and I were interviewed by someone writing a book on marriage and it got me to thinking. I actually know quite a bit about the subject. After all, I’ve been working at it for a very long time.
I know there are many points to a successful marriage I don’t address here. Honesty, trust, compatibility, sexy lingerie…all important, and I could talk about those as well, but I think those are understood.
So here are my top five secrets…in no particular order of importance.
1. Appreciation. If it’s a job, a volunteer situation, or a marriage, we all want to feel appreciated. Maybe you feel it’s your responsibility to do the laundry, or cook the meals. Maybe it’s his obligation to gas the cars and mow the lawn. That doesn’t matter. What matters is you tell each other you appreciate those things. It really takes little effort to say, “thank you” and the reward is great.
2. Confront problems when they happen. If it’s something as petty as him throwing towels on the floor…or you not hanging up the 14 different outfits you tried on before you chose the one to wear. Don’t let those “little” angry feeling simmer. Tell him to pick up the towels, because you don’t like it. He should tell you the same about the pile of clothes. If you don’t address the little things, they build and build, and you add more little things, until you have a mountain! Now, once he knows about the towels, and you know about the clothes, naturally you should both make an effort to change.
3. Permission to not love each other. The best advice we got before we married was given by our preacher. He told us there would be days when I didn’t love Tom and days when he didn’t love me. Now, Tom being the sweetest man in the world says there’s never been a day he hasn’t loved me!! Unfortunately for him, there have been many when I haven’t loved him!! At the time of that advice, I couldn’t imagine not ever-loving him. Lord, I loved everything about him. I even loved the way he held the steering wheel of the car! But…love grows and changes and now, not only do I no longer love the way he holds the steering wheel…I don’t even want the man in the car with me!! He’s a terrible driver who thinks he’s a great driver. If I’m driving, he tells me how to drive. I took a survey and it proved I’m the better driver! I digress…sorry. Anyhoo, the preacher said to give ourselves permission to not love each other on those occasions and not feel guilty about it, because love would return. That advice has proven true over the years.
4. Concentrate your energy on your spouse. Okay, so you want to get oiled up like a greased pig at a rodeo. Great. Ask your spouse to do it. Don’t go looking for someone else. Lord, back in the late 90’s we had three couples of friends and they all got divorced. Sadly, in each case a third-party was involved. When that happens, it’s difficult to save a marriage. One of the men confessed the woman he was having an affair with massaged him with baby oil and he loved it. Good grief. I’ll bet if his wife had known he liked it, she would have been happy to oblige. I don’t get it. Why do people make marriage harder than it has to be? I’m not saying wedded bliss doesn’t take work, because it does, but that baby oil thing falls under the making it work part. I understand after years with one person, marriage is like left-overs, it kinda needs to be heated sometime.
5. Revisit the relationship often. Take every opportunity to talk about your marriage. Just last week, with Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s break-up, my husband and I talked about it. When something like that happens, even though the marriage was nothing like ours, it does give the opportunity to open dialog. We rarely hear of a divorce that we don’t discuss what went wrong and how they could have fixed it.
So, there you have it. Five simple things responsible for making my marriage work for such a long time. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts…or some great advice you got about marriage.
A little history:
Tom was my high school sweetheart. We started dating when I was 15 and married when I was 19. We were married for 5 years before we had children. We have a son and a daughter and 6 grandchildren. Even though I want to knock him upside the head at least once a week, he is the only man I have ever loved.