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Toward Wholeness Blog

39 thoughts on marriage after 39 years

Every year for the past few, Donna and I have taken a few moments around the time of our anniversary to reflect on why we’re still happy, still in love, still feeling blessed.  We’re happy to share our discoveries with you.  In a time when the very notion of lifelong commitment is viewed cynically, we believe more strongly than ever, that real and abiding love is possible.  Far from perfect, we nonetheless still enjoy our marriage a great deal, and so offer these 39 thoughts after 39 years.  (We both wrote this and in many cases you’ll know whose writing a particular thought, but not in every case)

  1. We’re both youngest, and I’ve read relationships between two youngest are very challenging.  From the world wide web:

Worst match for a lastborn: Another lastborn

Two lastborns in a relationship is chaos. Lastborns have a tendency to get into financial trouble in a marriage, and it takes a lot of extra effort in this kind of relationship to work through who pays bills, who cleans up, who takes care of the social calendar, etc. If no firm decisions are made, lastborn pairs can quickly get into a lot of trouble.

According to Leman, lastborns have a built-in tendency to pass the buck. So if both partners are hellbent on blaming each other for everything, that’s not going to end well.

Whatever.  Turns out these dire predictions were all rubbish in our case, so don’t believe everything you read on the internet – some things just incite fear and anxiety.  Love wins.

  1. She’s on at night.  I’m on in the morning. As a result, the best times for discussion are neither of those times.

  2. We don’t share any letters in the Meyers Briggs test.  Sometimes that’s annoying, but most of the time, we’ve come to see it as an asset.

  3. Our shared passion is the outdoors, and having a shared passion has been valuable.

  4. When we hike or ski, I go slower when we’re together than I would alone.  This too is a good thing.

  5. Donna pays attention to 10,000 details, and this frees me up to pay attention to big ideas, big projects, and long term vision.  It seems like a match made in heaven.

  6. If there’s going to be a difficult conversation and one of us doesn’t have the energy for it, we don’t just defer to “later”  – we set a time for the discussion.

  7. We know each other’s “Love Languages” and try to use them.

  8. We know each other’s sexual comfort zones and desires and try to honor both.

  9. We are profoundly independent in many ways, each of us having full lives apart from the other.  That’s served us well.

  10. In that same vein, my travels for work almost always intensify my appreciation of our marriage.

  11. I believe that marriage requires a commitment to help the other person become the best version of themselves they can be.  This requires not only affirmation and encouragement, but hard conversations.

  12. My wife is, without even a close second, my best friend.

  13. Knowing that she’s for me has made our marriage a place of grace where it’s easy to confess.

  14. I affirm her gifts as often as I can.

  15. Donna has her own chain saw.

  16. We encourage each other in our own unique areas of giftedness rather than competing with them.

  17. We’re quick to laugh at our own mistakes.

  18. Richard loves to cook and I love to clean up so we make a great team in the kitchen.

  19. Know the social limits of your spouse and respect them. Don’t force introverts beyond their limits.

  20. Celebrate positive habit changes with gratitude rather than an exasperated “Finally!”

  21. Desperately try to see issues from their perspective. This is crucial to empathy.

  22. Remember that you’re on the same team. True in parenting as well as marriage.

  23. “Please” and “Thank you” are always in order, no matter how long you’re married.

  24. Never ask the question “Do these jeans make me look fat?”

  25. Be willing to try new things, new foods, or new activities with an open mind. It’s ok to not like it but not until you’ve given it an honest effort.

  26. Remind yourself of the qualities that drew you to him/her back in the beginning and celebrate them.

  27. Share in the decision-making. No dictatorships in marriage.

  28. Let her purchase her own power tools. (Kitchen appliances don’t count.)

  29. Emailing product links for gift ideas is perfectly fine (preferred, actually.)

  30. Recognize that some days you’re not that easy to live with either.

  31. Snuggling is better than television, reading, sports, crafts, cleaning, computers, social media, work, eating, etc.

  32. Remember why you married.  In my case it was because she gave the freedom to fail, had a great sense of humor, and would live anywhere in the world.  Two out of three are still true, but I think we’ve both married the Pacific Northwest and called it home ’til the end.

  33. Don’t insist your devotional life be the same.  Find what works for each of you and share what you’re learning over tea, or coffee.

  34. Find a way to laugh together, if possible every day

  35. If at all possible, and it usually is, pay off your credit completely each month.

  36. Discuss major purchases over a set amount before buying

  37. Value simple timeless things over stuff:  conversation, candles, campfires, walks, starlight, and falling snow are cheaper and better than most movies, concerts, and sporting events.  Not all…. but most.

  38. Don’t buy into the lie that monogamy is over-rated.  There’s still something to be said for remaining faithful, forgiving, telling truth, and growing old together.

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