I (literally) don’t know how they do it. Those folks who have been married 25, 40, 50 plus years. How many of us have even kept friendships that long? Our best and most beloved pets only lasted 15 years or so, so even if we wanted to have a longer-term relationship we couldn’t.
You better really love someone to stay together 3-10 years. But to stay together longer, you need more. You need some level of similar world view. Not agreeing on things, but understanding where the other person is coming from. And tolerating when they change their mind about something really big like politics or family or religion or kids; or smaller things like cleanliness, food preferences, house size, etc. And you have to be on each other’s side no matter what. This is not unconditional love, but unconditional support, always believing that they have the right intent, and are trying to make decisions they think are best for you. Distrust and disdain are sure to ruin a relationship.
I am not one for giving advice to others, except I do it a lot because I can’t help myself sometimes. I think I’ve kicked the habit when it comes to golf, no more swing tips from an 18 handicap to my 12 handicap friends. I have largely lost my urge to tell my loved ones how to work out, though people I used to be with wish I’d found that gift sooner. I still try to tell my family what to do and I still am way to anal retentive and OCD for my team at work, though progress continues slowly.
So this is not advice, just about me.
I have found someone who I can talk to about anything, not worrying about what they think or retribution or second guessing or “I told you so’s” or disdainful looks.
I have found someone who is intentional about finding the positive in every situation or every person- doesn’t always find it but she tries with a positive intent. I have found someone who is willing to stand side by side – not ahead or behind. Who demands equal respect, gives equal kudos. I have found someone who never shoots me a disdainful glare no matter what stupid thing I’ve done. I know I have found someone for the long term – that 25, 40 ,50 year relationship.
Mostly I am talking about my acceptance of myself. Because I am the one who has held myself back in relationships, I am the one who has screwed it up, and many times I didn’t think I could live with myself for much longer. I feel like a more mature and better person, who can actually live in my own skin.
And that led me to find someone who has all the characteristics above, in way more potent dosage and quantity than I will ever have!
We are not perfect, not individually or together. Our marriage started with lots of heartbreak with friends and family illnesses and death. It is burdened by failed relationships of the past. But we are in this for the long haul. We are in it to live through life together, good and bad.
I am lucky and feel very special. I wish that for all of you.