Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. 45 Years, or a 12-Step Program for a Successful Marriage

 

I would never have imagined that I would be married so many years. In fact, when I first met my husband-to-be, I told him that I didn’t know if I would ever get married. It just seemed like such a traumatic, demanding step; besides, who would have me?

But I was wrong—and I’m so glad I was. In meeting my husband, I found a man who is generous, smart, funny, helpful, and kind. He can also be stubborn, determined, and obsessive about detail. But I digress . . .

Today we will be married 45 years, and I thought I would write about the reasons we’ve had a successful marriage. Yes, there are things I could complain about, but I’d have to confess to my own shortcomings and I wouldn’t want to ruin my image. I’m even going to ask my husband to critique this post, and if I’ve distorted anything or left out anything crucial, I’m absolutely certain he will let me know—in a kind way, of course. (Right, dear?) So here are my twelve steps to our successful marriage, in no particular order:

  1. Take the commitment seriously: honor your words. We were dead serious when we got married and talked about its meaning for us before we exchanged vows. For those who think marriage is a social experiment for their entertainment, trust me—it’s not. It is meant to be a loving commitment for life.
  2. Respect who the other person is. This rule especially applies to women, many of whom think they can make their husbands over into their idea of perfection. Not only is this effort a waste of time, but it’s insulting; I know. I was one of those women and I was a complete pain in the neck. One day, in the middle of trying to nag him into becoming the perfect man, I stopped myself. What was I thinking? I married him because he was a terrific man and a wonderful human being! Seeking perfection in another person is idiocy. Just love him.
  3. Pick your battles! This is trickier than it sounds. Sometimes we try to slough off problems and say they’re not important because we’re afraid a discussion will lead to a fight, or we’re just plain afraid. Or we’d rather just seethe about it for a while to build up a full head of steam. Nine times out of ten, it’s really not important. If you think it is, think on it a while before you dump on the other person. Oh, and figure out if you’re just being a stinker.
  4. Oblige the other’s preferences. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything they want you to do with them. It does mean you talk about how important said activity or purchase or commitment is to him or her. Unless you have some strong objection (I will not fly in an acrobatic plane), consider going along.
  5. Support the other’s vocations and avocations. My husband didn’t really have hobbies. He worked on his Vette early in our marriage but stopped doing it because it took so much time and he was trying to get a bachelor’s degree at the same time. When he wanted to get a gun, I was not happy, but he let go of badgering me into changing my mind. It took a while, but I eventually came on board and now he calls me Annie Oakley; I shoot pretty well, thank you. He has supported me on countless occasions: practicing Zen, writing a book, going back to Judaism. I’m definitely behind in the number of supportive opportunities I’ve offered toward him. But then, neither of us keeps count.
  6. Be loving. This is about more than sex. It means saying you love him or her. Often. If you’re not used to doing that, practice doing it. It gets easier. Spontaneous hugs or kisses are great. Praise, expressing gratitude, even for simple things, go a long way to deepening your relationship. Encourage the other to do the things he or she might be reluctant to try, even if you don’t know how it will work out. Finally, say thank you to acknowledge your gratitude for what the other person is doing. Especially for the little things.
  7. Laugh together. No one knows how to make me laugh more than he does. Especially laughing at myself. I have a roaring laugh. He’s more subtle when I amuse him; if I get a silly grin, I’m a happy camper. My happy dance is particularly effective.
  8. Be careful about giving advice. I was a terrible nag toward him, and he would try to “fix” things for me. When we both learned that we were married to extremely capable people, he learned to just listen to my rants, and I learned to ask for permission to make suggestions—that’s right. I always—well, almost always–ask myself if he really needs my input. Most of the time I realize he doesn’t. That single time when I think he would really benefit from my brilliant idea, I ask him if I can make a suggestion. If he says no, and sometimes it’s a sensitive topic and he declines, I let it go. Or he asks to discuss it another time. More often than not, he says I can share, and he often goes along. But if he doesn’t, even out of pure stubbornness, I let it go. That part isn’t easy, but my ego will mend.
  9. Making friends. It’s nice to have friends together, especially people with whom you can discuss lots of things—politics, how to re-pave the driveway, where to go on vacation. They definitely need to know how to laugh with us, too.
  10. Time together. When we were both working, we didn’t have has much opportunity to be together; for many years, my husband traveled a lot. But now we are both retired, and we have drifted into a routine that makes us available to each other, but in different parts of the house. We have breakfast together, then part to go to our own offices; both of us spend a lot of time on the computer. We eat lunch together and then I go to my office or have various appointments or tasks to do. At dinner, we catch up on the day; that is often ranting about the latest politics: it’s not good for the digestion but it sure stimulates blood circulation. Evenings might be watching TV or reading a book (him) or knitting (me).
  11. Changing household roles. For many years, I was in charge of many of the household tasks and my husband helped. Now, somehow, he’s doing most of them: prepping and cooking dinner, doing laundry, folding and ironing—well, isn’t that enough?! I must admit that the guilt I experience while he’s busy is a little hard to deal with. But I’m managing.
  12. Throw this list away. Every relationship is different. Sure, some of the things I’ve listed might be helpful, but a good marriage isn’t about checking off a list: it’s about genuine liking, loving and caring for the other person; accepting them just as they are and frequently reminding them how grateful you are that they are part of your life.

Now go do the laundry or give a big hug!

Published in Marriage
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There are 45 comments.

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  1. She Thatcher
    She

    Happy Anniversary, Susan! Great post and suggestions, all the way through #12.

    • #1
    • July 7, 2019, at 7:29 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Happy Anniversary! Beautiful pictures – both of them!

    • #2
    • July 7, 2019, at 7:52 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. The Great Adventure! Member

    Happy Anniversary! 45 years? You must have been a child bride.

    Mrs. TGA and I have only achieved 33, but many of your points above pertain in our case as well. Some pertain to other relationships, too – particularly with your kids.

    #3 jumps out in this regard. Pick your battles. And I would also add that once you pick a battle with a kid, make dang sure you win.

    • #3
    • July 7, 2019, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Happy Anniversary! 45 years? You must have been a child bride.

    Mrs. TGA and I have only achieved 33, but many of your points above pertain in our case as well. Some pertain to other relationships, too – particularly with your kids.

    #3 jumps out in this regard. Pick your battles. And I would also add that once you pick a battle with a kid, make dang sure you win.

    Thanks for a wonderful comment, @thegreatadventure. We didn’t have children, but I’m sure the advice is valid. Congratulations on reaching 33 years!

    • #4
    • July 7, 2019, at 8:43 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. Kay of MT Member

    Happy Anniversary Susan, So happy for you.

    • #5
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:45 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Percival Thatcher

    Happy Anniversary, Susan.

    • #6
    • July 7, 2019, at 9:56 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Now go do the laundry or give a big hug!

    I passed that on to my wife – Step 1 of Stad’s program for a successful marriage.

    Greats pics, then and now! But nothing beats meeting Ricochetti in the flesh . . .

    • #7
    • July 7, 2019, at 10:28 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Now go do the laundry or give a big hug!

    I passed that on to my wife – Step 1 of Stad’s program for a successful marriage.

    Greats pics, then and now! But nothing beats meeting Ricochetti in the flesh . . .

    Aah, but I’ll bet you’re a big hugger to Neutral Observer!

    • #8
    • July 7, 2019, at 10:48 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Old Buckeye Member

    Congrats to you and your best guy, Susan. Great list and photos! This was also my in-laws’ wedding anniversary, although they are not here to celebrate 72 years. I hope you are.

    • #9
    • July 7, 2019, at 12:00 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Ansonia Member

    Happy Anniversary, Susan !

    I’m not throwing the list away. There’s too much on it I need to think about.

    • #10
    • July 7, 2019, at 12:16 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Vance Richards Member

    Susan Quinn: Take the commitment seriously: honor your words. We were dead serious when we got married and talked about its meaning for us before we exchanged vows. For those who think marriage is a social experiment for their entertainment, trust me—it’s not. It is meant to be a loving commitment for life.

    That! 

    My wife had a friend who got married and started divorce proceedings after the very first fight. What was she expecting? If you’re not willing to put in the effort to make it work, don’t get married in the first place. It will never be easy, but if you are willing to make a go of it, it can be great.

    • #11
    • July 7, 2019, at 12:29 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    My wife had a friend who got married and started divorce proceedings after the very first fight. What was she expecting? If you’re not willing to put in the effort to make it work, don’t get married in the first place. It will never be easy, but if you are willing to make a go of it, it can be great.

    A couple of times I’ve had younger folks ask when they can stop working so hard on their marriages. I think I said “never,” but I should have said, “when you’re dead.”

    • #12
    • July 7, 2019, at 12:40 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. Sweezle Member

    Happy Anniversary to both of you! I think your list is good. Yes every couple is different. I think commitment, communication, compromise and sharing your life with another person have much in common for everyone. Marriage is hard work and definitely worth the effort. Congratulations to both of you.

    • #13
    • July 7, 2019, at 1:15 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Vance Richards Member

    For my high school yearbook pictures they still made us wear that same style tux with the ruffled shirts, only our jackets were powder blue. Thankfully not everything from back then lasted as well as your marriage.

    • #14
    • July 7, 2019, at 1:29 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  15. ShaunaHunt Member

    Happy Anniversary! Have a wonderful day! The advice is great and applicable.

    • #15
    • July 7, 2019, at 1:55 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    I was with you until you vetoed flying in the acrobatic airplane…. what a deal breaker….

    Just kidding,

    Happy Anniversary. 

    • #16
    • July 7, 2019, at 2:56 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Buckpasser Member

    Congratulations Susan. Next month we will celebrate number 40. In many ways your #12 is the most important. I’ve said on here before that there isn’t much advice I could give to anyone else on marriage. Everyone’s is different, what works for some doesn’t work for others. I’m very happy that you have made yours work. Now….I better get that ironing done!

    • #17
    • July 7, 2019, at 3:02 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. Cow Girl Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Support the other’s vocations and avocations.

     This one is really important! I once knew a woman whose marriage was falling apart after a few years, and in our conversation it came out that she was annoyed about all the time he spent on his drag car, and at the drag races. She just didn’t like it, and wasn’t interested in it. When I asked her where they’d met, she said that her friend had taken her to the drag races one night, and introduced her to her cousin–now her husband–who had a car, and was there at the races every weekend…I have no idea how they ended up married. But I kind of figured out why the relationship was falling apart.

    I accidentally did the exact right thing after we were married. (P.S. 45 years ago, too!) I guess I figured that after you got married, you’d sit on the couch and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes or something, all the time. But, no, he hurried out to the garage every night after dinner. So, being curious as to what could be more compelling than me, I went to the garage. He was working on his motorcycle. So, (because there were words on pages) I read the tech manuals, and the life-style magazines, and hung around there. Soon, he was a enlisting me to hold this part while he used the wrench, or to hand him a particular tool, or to push on the brake while he adjusted something or other. It wasn’t long before I learned the names of the various items in the big red tool box, and eventually the names of most of the engine parts. His passion was this machine. Since I could now understand some of his conversations about it, I was now part of this scene. Seriously, it was the best thing I could have ever done, as new wife. Who knew?

    It took a few years, but I managed to become #1 on his passion list, with the motorcycle down further on the list…

    • #18
    • July 7, 2019, at 3:44 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):

    I was with you until you vetoed flying in the acrobatic airplane…. what a deal breaker….

    Just kidding,

    Happy Anniversary.

    Yeah, yeah, I get it @gldiii. No problem!

    • #19
    • July 7, 2019, at 3:49 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Buckpasser (View Comment):

    Congratulations Susan. Next month we will celebrate number 40. In many ways your #12 is the most important. I’ve said on here before that there isn’t much advice I could give to anyone else on marriage. Everyone’s is different, what works for some doesn’t work for others. I’m very happy that you have made yours work. Now….I better get that ironing done!

    You’re a good man, @buckpasser–and well trained! ;-)

    • #20
    • July 7, 2019, at 3:50 PM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Cow Girl (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Support the other’s vocations and avocations.

    This one is really important! I once knew a woman whose marriage was falling apart after a few years, and in our conversation it came out that she was annoyed about all the time he spent on his drag car, and at the drag races. She just didn’t like it, and wasn’t interested in it. When I asked her where they’d met, she said that her friend had taken her to the drag races one night, and introduced her to her cousin–now her husband–who had a car, and was there at the races every weekend…I have no idea how they ended up married. But I kind of figured out why the relationship was falling apart.

    I accidentally did the exact right thing after we were married. (P.S. 45 years ago, too!) I guess I figured that after you got married, you’d sit on the couch and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes or something, all the time. But, no, he hurried out to the garage every night after dinner. So, being curious as to what could be more compelling than me, I went to the garage. He was working on his motorcycle. So, (because there were words on pages) I read the tech manuals, and the life-style magazines, and hung around there. Soon, he was a enlisting me to hold this part while he used the wrench, or to hand him a particular tool, or to push on the brake while he adjusted something or other. It wasn’t long before I learned the names of the various items in the big red tool box, and eventually the names of most of the engine parts. His passion was this machine. Since I could now understand some of his conversations about it, I was now part of this scene. Seriously, it was the best thing I could have ever done, as new wife. Who knew?

    It took a few years, but I managed to become #1 on his passion list, with the motorcycle down further on the list…

    Awesome, @cowgirl! Way to go! I helped my hubby with his motorcycle and his Vette a few times, too; if he’d kept doing that kind of work, I’d probably have done what you did. With all your wonderful posts, I admire you so much! And you’re at 45 years, too! We may have grown up differently, but we seem to have a lot in common now. Congratulations on 45!

    • #21
    • July 7, 2019, at 3:53 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  22. Manny Member

    Congratulations! You look a perfect couple. Thank you for sharing. It’s inspirational. 

    • #22
    • July 7, 2019, at 5:09 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Manny (View Comment):

    Congratulations! You look a perfect couple. Thank you for sharing. It’s inspirational.

    Thanks, @manny!

    • #23
    • July 7, 2019, at 5:33 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Dick from Brooklyn Thatcher

    Congratulations, Susan. You look like a very happy couple in all of your pictures. 

    • #24
    • July 7, 2019, at 6:45 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. SkipSul Moderator

    Happy anniversary! We just marked our 20th two weeks ago.

    • #25
    • July 7, 2019, at 7:28 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Zafar Member

    Happy Anniversary. He looks like he knows he’s a lucky guy. 

    • #26
    • July 7, 2019, at 8:17 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. The Cynthonian Member

    What a great post! Happy anniversary!

    • #27
    • July 7, 2019, at 10:23 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. aardo vozz Member

    Happy Anniversary!

    • #28
    • July 8, 2019, at 5:10 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Happy Anniversary. He looks like he knows he’s a lucky guy.

    Very sweet of you, @zafar. Thanks.

    • #29
    • July 8, 2019, at 5:30 AM PST
    • 1 like
  30. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Now go do the laundry or give a big hug!

    I passed that on to my wife – Step 1 of Stad’s program for a successful marriage.

    Greats pics, then and now! But nothing beats meeting Ricochetti in the flesh . . .

    Aah, but I’ll bet you’re a big hugger to Neutral Observer!

    Absolutely! And the best thing about hugging?

    It keeps her shooting hand occupied . . .

    • #30
    • July 8, 2019, at 5:39 AM PST
    • 3 likes
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