A couple had been married for 50 years and had raised 10 children. When asked the secret to the longevity of their relationship, the wife replied, “Many years ago we made a promise to each other that the first one to pack up and leave had to take the kids.”
Given that 43 percent of all marriages in America end in divorce and the average duration of a relationship between unmarried couples is 6 years, perhaps the caveat that you have to take the kids when you leave is a good idea.
Then there are those whose relationship stands the test of time. They hide in the corner of a run-of-the-mill restaurant laughing and joking and finishing each other’s sentence.
They seem to be so perfectly in sync that they make the work of being a happy couple seem effortless. What’s their secret?
Having been married to the wrong woman for 13 years and now the right woman for 21 years, I was curious Here’s what I learned when I Goggled “Secrets of Happy Couples” and visited the Redbook Magazine website and www.psychcentral.com along with numerous others.
Secret 1. Develop a realistic view of a committed relationship. Recognize that the crazy infatuation you experienced when your romance was new won’t last and that it will be replaced with a deeper, richer relationship that should still include romance.
Secret 2. Work on the relationship. An untended garden develops weeds that can ultimately kill even the heartiest of plants. It is important to address problems, conflicts and misunderstandings immediately.
Secret 3. Spend time together. There is no substitute for shared quality time. Time without kids, pets, cell phones and other interruptions will form a bond that will help you deal with the rough times.
Secret 4. Communicate. Lack of communication is the number one reason relationships fail. Listen to your partner’s position without interrupting and try to empathize with your significant other even though you don’t agree.
Secret 5. Fight constructively. Happy couples have learned the art of constructive arguing where there are ground rules and agreed-upon time outs if the conflict is escalating. And above all, no matter how angry they get, they don’t resort to name calling and insults.
Secret 6. Use terms of endearment. You may find it sappy when you overhear couples talking like two-year-olds but endearments are actually a sign of a healthy rapport.
Secret 7. Give each other gifts. Couples who are deeply connected often give each other presents or write little notes. What they’re doing is keeping the magic of their courtship alive.
You can follow the Seven Secrets above or you can just take the advice of Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of North Carolina who have been married for 86 years – Zelmyra is 101 years old and Herbert is 104.
When asked what was the best piece of marriage advice they ever received, they replied, “Respect, support and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest and true. Love each other with ALL your heart.”
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.