Today’s post is from an interview I conducted with a Happy Wife of more than 57 years for our Sage Wisdom column. I will be archiving it soon and wanted to make sure you had a chance to read it before it’s removed from our home page.
HAPPY HOUR AT HOME
I love the simplicity of the wisdom of those married more than 40 years. They seem to all have the same thought process which falls in line with a popular book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff.
During my phone interview with Marie, her husband, Nick, walked in the room and asked if I wanted to talk to him. She jokingly responded, “No, this isn’t the Happy Husband’s Club!” In that brief exchange I could feel the warmth and playfulness in their relationship. They are genuine friends. Best friends. And they’ve been that way for six decades.
So what is it that has kept their friendship growing for so many years? What’s kept them from falling out of love? For one thing, Marie thinks the idea of falling out of love is “ridiculous.” As with anything worth having, she believes marriage and remaining in love requires effort. An effort she and Nick have continued to put into their relationship for the past 57 years.
When asked about staples in their marriage that helped build it up, keep it fresh and fun for so many years, Marie’s answers are simplistic and yet so wise. She talked about how so many have a propensity to overanalyze. We overanalyze everything and that will hurt any relationship. Marie and Nick figured out a way to keep it simple and that’s what they continue to do.
Marie’s “Top Five” list for creating and maintaining a happy marriage:
1. Talk about everything. Be open and honest. But never have disagreements in front of other people. Marie contends all married couples will disagree at one point or another, “We’re two very different people.“ But there is a time and place for everything. She advises wives, “Never embarrass your husband in front of others…by saying how badly he is behaving, or how wrong he may be. Always wait for the right moment to address any bad feelings you may have.”
She continues, “…a very important relationship problem that I see and hear so often and that is to criticize or berate one’s partner in front of others….If you ever watched ‘Kate Plus 8’, you will know what I mean. I call this a Big No No….as it takes a long time to forgive after being embarrassed in front of others….Always wait to address these concerns behind ‘closed doors’.”
She and Nick always had those types of discussions during date night. You might be wondering, “during date night?” which was my response, as well. Marie says they wouldn’t have these conversations in the restaurant or during their date but rather before hand – in the car or away from other people. They would say what was on their heart and they would either come to a meeting of minds or they would agree to disagree.
Over the years, there are innumerous times when Marie and Nick have agreed to disagree, especially when raising their four children. They are able to do that because of their enormous respect for each other. They are also courteous toward one another saying, “please” and “thank you.” Marie agrees with a recent news story she read that said one of the great challenges with couples is over time many become discourteous toward one another. They take each other for granted. Marie and Nick never allowed that in their marriage.
2. Always boost each other’s morale. Be your spouse’s greatest supporter. Marie’s husband is her greatest supporter and she is his. When either are having a bad day or are feeling down, they rely on the other to lift up their spirits. That’s what best friends are supposed to do. That is what marriage is all about. There are so many things throughout our lifetime that can discourage us or pull us down. And having a friend, lover and confidant to lift us back up is one of the greatest blessings of life.
3. Spend time alone. Marie and Nick have four children so having a date night was not optional. It was a time for mom & dad to reconnect. “It is important to build a bond together separate and apart from the kids.” Marie says. She and Nick never went through the “Empty nest” syndrome because “I enjoyed each and every day with my kids. But I was happy to just be with my husband again.” She says they took time to bond over the years, to continue pouring time into their own relationship. Marie believes many parents go through ‘empty nesting’ because they are so into their kids they forget to spend quality time with each other. “And then when they’re grown and gone, who are you left with?” she asks.
4. Daily Cocktail Hour. Now, I must admit – this is one my favorite pieces of advice I’ve heard most recently. Marie and Nick get together every night around 6pm for ‘cocktail hour’ where she’ll most oftentimes sip on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or vodka and grape juice (dirty martini on Friday nights) and he’ll enjoy a glass of vodka tonic while discussing matters of the day. They talk about everything from their business, to the kids, to family and friends.
Marie handles the books for their general store so she’s busy in the office many days keeping them from interacting as much as they’d like during those times. But at the end of each day, no matter what’s gone on throughout, they get together and debrief. They remind each other of how blessed and fortunate they are to have each other, a loving marriage, wonderful children, funny friends and anything else on their mind at the moment. After nearly 60 years of marriage, they are still nurturing their friendship, they continue to develop that bond.
5. Work through disagreements and arguments. When you look back on them, you will find they are always quite trivial. So often, couples allow issues to build and you can certainly make a mountain out of a mole hill – and many do this on a regular basis. She’s shocked to discover how trivial most disagreements were, “That was what we were arguing about? How silly,” she thinks when looking back on the arguments they’ve had over the years.
Marie believes many throw in the towel too easy. Over just about anything. And many don’t even remember what caused the argument which turned into the fight that ended their marriage. When asked about couples who say, “We simply grew apart,” Marie responds matter-of-factly, “We didn’t really think about that.”
Marie and Nick married for life so growing apart wasn’t even something that crossed their mind. They put in the effort to make their marriage last and it’s paid off great dividends. “After 57 years, it’s amazing how great it is to have the right partner in life at this stage of life and still enjoy each other immensely.”
Marie has been a Happy Wife longer than my husband and I have been alive. It is my honor to know her and it was my absolutely pleasure to do this interview. Thank you, Marie. And thank you, Nick, for sharing your wife with the world.
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
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