40 Lessons From 40 Years of Marriage

Four decades ago, I married Barbara Ann Peterson. Looking back now on the first 12 months of our marriage, I’d have to describe myself then as an idiot—repeatedly ignoring the dignity of the woman that God had brought me.

But after six children, 19 grandchildren, and decades of married life, I’ve learned some things. I think of them as 40 lessons from 40 years of marriage … and family … and life.

1. Marriage and family are about the glory of God.

Genesis 1:27 makes it clear, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” From the beginning, marriage has been central to God’s glory on planet Earth. The Bible begins with a marriage and ends with a marriage. What God designed, lifted up, and gave a transcendent purpose, man has dumbed down.

Many today make the purpose of marriage to be one’s personal happiness—of finding another person who meets my needs. God created marriage to reflect His image, to reproduce a godly heritage, and to stand together in spiritual battle. Your marriage, your covenant-keeping love, will be your greatest witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Marriage is about the glory of God—not about the happiness of man.

2. Marriage is taking place on a spiritual battlefield, not on a romantic balcony.

Satan’s first attack on the image of God was to destroy the image-bearers’ relationship with Him. Then Satan went after Adam and Eve and their relationship with one another. If he targeted marriage to begin with, why would we think our marriages would be any different?

I think we often forget that our marriage—our family—can be targeted by the enemy to destroy the image-bearers, to destroy the legacy that is passed on to future generations.

I believe that the very definition of marriage is under attack today because of who created marriage, God.

3. Your spouse is not your enemy.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Have you ever looked at your spouse in the morning as your enemy, asking God, “What did you do in bringing us together?” I have.

But the Scriptures tell us, your mate is not your enemy. Your mate is a gift from God to you. In all his imperfections—in all her imperfections—God has given you a gift. You can either receive it by faith, or you can reject it.

4. The couple that prays together stays together.

In the first months of my marriage, I went to a friend named Carl Wilson and said, “Carl, you’ve been married 25 years. You’ve got five kids. What’s the best single piece of advice you can give me, as a young man who’s just starting out his marriage?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “Pray with your wife every day.”

I said: “That’s it? ‘Pray with your wife’?”

“That’s it.”

So I went home, and Barbara and I started praying together. This worked really well for a couple of months … until the night when we went to bed facing opposite walls. Although it wasn’t the most comfortable position physically, it expressed where we were spiritually and emotionally.

There seemed to be a tap on my shoulder that night, and it wasn’t Barbara. God was speaking to me in my conscience. He said: “Hey, Rainey! Aren’t you going to pray with her tonight?” I said, “I don’t like her tonight!”

He said, “Yes, but you made the commitment to pray every day with your wife.” And I said, “But God, you know that in this situation, she is 90 percent wrong!”

God said, “Yes, but it was your 10 percent that caused her to be 90 percent wrong.”

I wanted to roll over and say, “Sweetheart, will you forgive me for being 10 percent wrong?” But after the words got caught in my throat, I said, “Will you forgive me for … ?”

Barbara and I are both strong-willed, stubborn, rebellious people. But we’ve been transformed by praying together. Now we are two strong-willed people who bow their wills before almighty God, on a daily basis, and invite Him into our presence.

Praying with your spouse will change the course of your marriage and legacy.

5. Isolation is a subtle killer of relationships.

Genesis 2:24 gives us a prescription from Scripture: Leave, cleave, and become one. The enemy of our souls does not want a husband and wife to be one. Instead, he wants to divide us.

In John 17, Jesus prayed for the church to be one. He realized that when we are in isolation, we can be convinced of anything.

Isolation kills relationships.

6. It’s easier for two broken people to build a marriage and family from the same set of biblical blueprints.

What would a physical house look like if you had two different architects, two different builders, and two different sets of blueprints? You’d get some pretty funny-looking houses, wouldn’t you? The same thing will happen in your marriage if you and your spouse are building your relationship and family from different plans.

For the past 37 years, FamilyLife has hosted Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. If you haven’t been to this with your spouse, I encourage you to go. Weekend to Remember speakers explain God’s blueprints for a successful marriage and family, and transparently share from their own lives.

7. It is healthy to confess your sins to your spouse.

James 5:16 reminds us, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

If you want to be healthy, develop a marriage relationship where your spouse has access to the interior of your soul. Are you struggling with bitterness over a betrayal? I’ve been through that. I’ve asked Barbara, “Will you pray for me?”

Maybe you’re struggling with a bad attitude … a sense of rebellion … toying with something you shouldn’t be toying with. Bring your spouse into the interior of your soul so that you may be healed.

8. It is impossible to experience marriage as God designed it without being lavish in your forgiveness of one another.

Ephesians 4:32 says we should forgive each other “just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Failing to forgive or to ask for forgiveness kills oneness, and unity, and life in a marriage.

I love this statement by Ruth Bell Graham: “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Why is this true? Because forgiveness means we give up the right to punish the other person. In a marriage relationship there are plenty of things (either committed or omitted) where you’re going to have to give up the right to punish the other person. Bitterness does not create oneness.

9. One of the greatest threats in any marriage is losing a teachable heart.

Proverbs 4:23 reminds us, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Most of us do all we can to prevent a heart attack. Why? Because there’s a simple equation: If the heart dies, you die.

The Bible is filled with references to the heart. In fact, the Great Commandment is one that calls our heart to love God totally and fully, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Pay attention to your heart. Guard it lest it become hardened or not teachable.

A teachable heart is a spiritually-receptive heart. When was the last time you asked your spouse to forgive you? When did you last listen to a child who had perhaps been hurt by you?

Remember, from the heart flows the springs of life.

10. Every couple needs a mentor couple who is one lap ahead of them in the seasons of life.

Who’s your couple? Who’s your person? If you’re a newlywed, you need someone to coach you on the habits you establish at the beginning of your marriage. If you’re starting out with your kids, you need someone just to say: “You know what? This is normal. This is the way it happens.”

Even if you are moving into the empty nest with adult children, I’ve got news for you: You really need a mentor in that phase! Relating to adult children has been more challenging than the terrible twos—not because our kids are bad kids. It just didn’t turn out the way I envisioned it.

Who’s your mentor? Be careful about who’s speaking into your life.

11.  What you remember is just as important as what you forget. 

We tend to suffer from spiritual amnesia.  Wanting to remember God’s faithfulness, I started a spiritual milestone file in 1998. It now has 920 reminders in it—remembrances of the little things, and the big things, that God has done.

Milestones remind us of three things: what God has done; who God is—His provision, care, and deliverance; and the need to trust God and walk by faith.

When we forget the deeds of God, we will ultimately forget to trust Him.

12. Marriage was designed by God to be missional.

Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …”  And Acts 13:36 says, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep …”

I want to be about the purposes of God, in my generation, with my wife.  She is a partner in ministry.  We are not two individual people who are just successfully going our own way.  We are two people who work at merging our life purpose and mission together so that we increasingly share it as we move toward the finish line.

The other evening, Barbara and I sat in our living room in two chairs that we bought in 1972 for $5 apiece.  They’ve been reupholstered three times.  We sat in those chairs, talking about, “Should we reupholster them, or go buy new ones?”  I turned to her and I said:  “You know what?  We have not given our lives to stuff.”

Now, do we live in a nice home?  Do we live better than we deserve? Absolutely. But as imperfect as we are, as many struggles as we’ve had, we are headed toward the same mission.  We are a part of the Great Commission.  We want to be fulfilling the great commandment, together as a couple.

My challenge to you is this: As a couple, believe God for too much, rather than too little. Remember what A.W. Tozer said, “God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible.  What a pity we plan to do the things we can only do by ourselves.”

Life can wear you down.  It can wear you out.  Disappointment chips away at faith.  As a couple, you have to work on this to go to the finish line.

13. It’s okay to have one rookie season, but it’s not okay to repeatedly repeat it.

I was an idiot in our first 12 months of marriage—repeatedly ignoring the dignity of the woman that God had brought me.

The lessons that you learn need to be applied. It’s not good to repeat rookie errors in your 39th season of marriage.

14. Never use the d-word in your marriage.   

Never threaten divorce in your marriage. Never let the d-word cross your lips, ever!  Instead, use the c-word—commitment, covenant, covenant-keeping love that says, “I’d marry you all over again.”

I can still remember an argument my parents had when I was five years old and divorce was not in vogue.  Your kids are highly sensitized to what your relationship is like and how you communicate when you disagree. Let them hear of your commitment to one another.

15. Honor your parents.

Exodus 20:12 is the first commandment with a promise: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Our marriage was brought to life as we honored our parents.  We are a generation that has bashed and blamed our parents, ignoring this commandment.  It is time for us to return home to our parents with honor.  A practical way you can do that is by writing them a tribute and, then, by reading it to them.

Instead of giving your parents a dust buster for Christmas, or a tie, or a pair of house slippers, give them a tribute, thanking them for what they did right.  Barbara did this with her parents.  I did it with mine.  Honoring your parents is a life-giver.

16. Different isn’t wrong; it’s just different.

We marry one another because we’re different, and we divorce each other because we’re different.  When Barbara and I moved into the empty-nest phase, we discovered that we are much more different than we ever imagined.  Here’s the key—your spouse’s differences are new capacities that God has brought to your life to complete you.

Barbara’s an artist and as we began our empty-nest years I told her, “Wherever you go, you make things beautiful.”  You see, I didn’t appreciate beauty.  I had no idea how beauty reflected the glory of God. Your spouse is God’s added dimension to your life.

17. Marriage and family are redemptive.

Being married to Barbara and having six kids has saved me from toxic self-absorption.  The way to have a godly marriage and family is the same path as coming to faith in Christ.  It is surrender—giving up your rights to Him first, then to your spouse—serving them.

I have a confession to make.  I mistakenly thought that God gave Barbara and me six children so that we could raise them. Now I think that He gave me six children, so He could finish the process of helping me grow up.  Nothing has taught me more about self-sacrifice and following God’s Word than loving and leading my children.

18. A man’s wife is his number one disciple. 

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru in the United States), said countless times that a man’s wife should be his number one disciple.

Husbands, help your wife grow as a Christian. It’s the smartest thing you could possibly do. When your wife grows in this area, not only does she triumph at life, but you benefit as well.

19. Go near the orphan.

When you go near the orphan, as a couple, you go near the Father’s heart.  Barbara and I went near the orphan, and we adopted one of our six children. I’ve learned more about the Father’s heart through adoption—of choosing a child and unconditional love. This is pure and undefiled religion.

20. Make your home a storm shelter.

I grew up in southwest Missouri and spent many a night in a cellar, down with the potatoes and green beans. It was a musty smelling place. I was down there trying to dodge a tornado that never hit.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus compares two builders of two homes—both in storms.  We should get a clue from that: We’re going to build our marriage, our family, our home in the midst of storm warnings, floods, wind, and rain.

Barbara nearly died on four different occasions; she had a heart rate of more than 300 beats a minute. I often imagined life as a single dad, until we got her heart problem fixed. And then there was a 13-year-old son, our athletic son, who was stricken with a rare neurological disorder.  There was a prodigal.  There was the day my dad died.  There were short paychecks in ministry.  There were challenges in my ministry—all kinds of issues with people.

Your marriage covenant is more than just saying, “I do,” for a lifetime.  It is for better and for worse.

Make your home a storm shelter—a safe place to go in a storm.

21. Suffering will either drive you apart, or it will be used by God to merge you together.

Scripture teaches that our response to God and His Word is the difference-maker in how we handle suffering.  You and your spouse have to decide to suffer together rather than falling apart.

22. Men and women process suffering very differently.

It is a wise husband who gives his wife space and grace to process loss and suffering differently from how he processes it. After Barbara recovered from several near-death experiences when her heart raced over 300 beats a minute, I remember wanting her to flip a switch and move on with life.  That was easy for me to say. I hadn’t been the one who they took away in an ambulance with a heart beating so fast that the bed was shaking.

23.  Loss is a part of life and increases as we age.

How you and your spouse process loss, by faith, will determine whether you grow old and bless others, giving them life, or whether you grow old and curse others, becoming a bitter crotchety old person.

Process loss well.

24. Communication is the life-giver of a relationship. 

Simply put, find a way to get five, ten, fifteen minutes together to talk every day.  Turn the TV off, set the computer aside, take a walk, and just talk with each other.

Barbara and I used to do this and walk in our garden.  The kids thought we were just going out there to see the flowers bloom.  We were going out there to get away from them, so we could have a complete sentence between each other.

25. No shepherd can lead any faster than the sheep can follow. 

You are the guardian of your marriage and family’s direction and vision. C. H. Spurgeon said, “It was by perseverance the snail reached the ark.”  Sliming my way to the finish line is the great hope for me as the spiritual leader of my family.  After you fail (and you will), get back up.

When the kids were young, our family devotionals were chaos—flipping peas, spilling milk, crawling under the table.  Who knows what they heard?  No shepherd can lead any faster than the sheep can follow.

26. Maximize your wife’s talents, gifts, experience, and passion as you would an Olympic athlete. 

Ephesians 5 talks to men about loving their wives as they love their own bodies. Help your wife accomplish everything that God has in mind for her.

Do an inventory of her gifts, her talents, her passions.  What motivates her?  What demotivates her?  Pray for her and her vision.  What are her core competencies?  Dream some dreams together, and don’t wait until you’re in the empty nest to dream the dreams.  Start dreaming even when you’re building your family.

27. Wives, your respect will fuel your husband, and your contempt will empty his tank. 

Ephesians 5:33 commands wives to respect their husbands.  Ladies, keep in mind that 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal.  How are you expressing belief in your man non-verbally?

Barbara’s belief in me as a man has helped me excel.  It’s not a blind belief, but it’s a belief that speaks the truth in love.

28: Women spell romance differently than men. 

Women spell romance r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p. But men spell it: s-e-x. God, in His cosmic genius, has brought two very different people together in marriage who are to dance together. And what an interesting dance when I think that I understand my wife. For example, I bring her roses, and I write her a note, and I fix dinner, and put the kids to bed, and that equals sex.

So, as a man, I begin to think, “A+B+C=D.  It did last night.”  So, I try it again the next night or perhaps a few nights later.  Roses, a nice meal, put the kids to bed—“Huh?”  Nada.  “Huh?”

So, I went to Barbara: “What’s the deal?  You changed the equation.”

Would you like to know what she said: “As a woman, I don’t want to be reduced to an equation.  I want to be pursued as a person relationally.”

29. Your marriage must be built to outlast the kids. 

Our romance gave us children, and our children tried to steal our romance.

Barbara and I had to make an effort to have special dinners together and go on short getaways two or three times a year. We fought to keep these times on the schedule.  It was a hassle finding a babysitter, but time alone together was worth it.

30. Build too many guardrails around your relationship rather than too few. 

Men, don’t trust yourself alone with the opposite sex.  I have asked people to go out of their way to take me to speaking engagements instead of one woman taking me.  I’ve got a friend who won’t get in an elevator alone with a woman.  You may say that’s a little extreme.  Let me tell you something.  Given the fallout today in ministry, I’m not sure it’s extreme.

31. Wives generously use your sexual power in your husband’s life. 

I think that one of the mistakes we make when we read chapters 5-7 in Proverbs (which is a father’s advice to a son about the harlot) is to believe that sexual power over a man is limited to just a woman in the streets.

I think Proverbs 5-7 gives women an interesting glimpse into how to encourage and bless her husband—by speaking love to him in the language that would encourage him.  Ladies, use your sexual power liberally with your husbands.

32. The first essence of rearing children is “identity.”

This has to do with disciplining your child to know his or her spiritual destiny and spiritual address.  It also has to do with his or her sexual identity as well.  This culture is seeking to distort the image of God imbedded in boys and girls; we have to help our children know how to navigate those waters.

33. The second essence of rearing children is “relationship.” 

Disciple your child to know what real love is, how to love another imperfect person, and how to experience love as a human.  The Great Commandment makes it clear (Matthew 22:34-40). Life is about relationships.  It’s about a relationship with God, loving Him, and it’s also about loving others on the horizontal.

34. The third essence of rearing children is “character.”

The book of Proverbs talks about this, obviously.  It is disciplining your child to be wise and not be a fool.

35. The fourth essence of rearing children is “mission.” 

It is no mistake that the Scriptures compares children to arrows in the hands of a warrior.  Arrows are meant to be pulled back by an archer, aimed at a target, and let go.

What are you aiming them toward?  What are you challenging your children to give their lives to?  The Kingdom’s work is paramount.  We’re going to need another generation to carry on should Christ tarry.

36. Determine your core values as a couple.

In the early years of Barbara’s and my marriage, we went on a little retreat together. She got alone and wrote down the top ten core values that she wanted to produce in our children.  I got alone, separate from her, and wrote out my top ten core values for the kids.

Then we got together and prioritized them, agreeing on our top five.  Those five helped us to not compare our family with other families, but to do just what God had called us to do.  And it helped us be one as a couple

37. Interview your daughter’s date, and train your sons not to be clueless.

May I suggest two books that I wrote: Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date andAggressive Girls, Clueless Boys?

In today’s culture, even our little eight year old/nine year old boys are being preyed upon by older girls. It is bizarre.

I was recently told about a young man who went away for a Passport2Purity®weekend, which is a weekend getaway, with his father.  He was 11 years old.  After learning about the birds and the bees for the first time, he arrived back home. Two days later, two eighth grade girls asked him to have sex with them.  He said, “No”—told them to leave.

38.  Become smaller, not bigger, in the lives of your adult children.

As Barbara and I have watched our grown children manage their own families and extended families, we have learned that we must become small.  By this I mean that we cannot fix their problems. We can give advice when asked, but not unless we are asked.

39.   As I get older, I want to laugh more with my wife, gripe less, and be found guilty of giving her too much love, grace, and mercy rather than too little. 

40. Have a view of God that will guide you all of your days.

What you think about God is important. Your view of God, of who He is and the blueprints of His Word, will guide you all your days through many valleys and mountaintops in ministry.


Source: http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/marriage/archived-content/miscellaneous/40-lessons-from-40-years-of-marriage-entire-list

Why Couples Divorce After 40 Years

Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper never showed public signs of a disintegrating relationship, so for many, the couple’s announcement that they are separating after 40 years of marriage comes as a surprise.

“I’m shocked — beyond shocked,” family friend Chris Downey told the Washington Post on Tuesday, as pundits and journalists reminisced about the couple’s moments in the public eye.

Though every marriage is different, a divorce after 40 years is “unusual,” said Robert Levenson, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies marriage across the lifespan. Most divorces occur early in marriage, Levenson said.

“It’s striking when a couple has been together 40 years and then they call it quits,” Levenson told LiveScience. “It’s not what we would expect.”

Marriages get in trouble when the couple’s situation or relationship changes and the partners can’t adapt, Levenson said. The birth of the first child is particularly fraught, he said. Tensions over housekeeping, finances and childrearing can run high. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Marriage and the Family by Levenson and psychologist John Gottman, now at the Gottman Relationship Institute, found that divorces during this period tended to be marked by anger and vicious fights.

As couples overcome challenges together, however, relationships strengthen. People report more marital satisfaction in midlife, with abump in bliss as the children grow up and leave home, Levenson said.

“A lot of couples rediscover each other,” Levenson said.

In fact, said Terri Orbuch, a University of Michigan psychologist and author of “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great” (Random House 2009), people are often happier by their 35th anniversary than they were when they first got married.

According to friends of the couple, the Gores cited “growing apart” as the reason for their split. That’s a common reason for midlife divorces, Orbuch said. Relationship ruts and boredom are common. Spouses forget to show appreciation for each other, leading to frustration and loneliness. Orbuch’s research has shown that marriages with husbands who don’t feel appreciated are twice as likely to end. Divorces in this phase of life are often marked by coldness and emotional withdrawal, according to Gottman and Levenson’s 2000 study.

“Things can start out small and seemingly insignificant,” Orbuch said. “What happens is they accumulate over time and they become bigger and bigger.”

Couples can overcome these challenges by communicating, learning to fight fair, and discussing each other’s expectations for the relationship. To overcome ennui, Orbuch said, both parties should focus on adding spice to the relationship, which can be as simple as a new restaurant or vacation spot.

“Happy couples that are still together over time change things up,” she said. “They knock each other off balance just a little bit.”


Article Source: http://www.livescience.com/9947-couples-divorce-40-years.html

This Is REALLY How A Marriage Changes Over 40 Years

When I mention I recently celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary, friends stare incredulously as if to say, “How is that possible?” I joke that I was a child bride in an arranged marriage, sold with a dowry to the highest bidder. The truth is I did vow “I do” at 23.

My husband, Steve, and I married young and had a child late.

When I met Steve, I was still grieving over my college sweetheart, who’d left me for medical school and a fear of commitment. Dubiously, I agreed to a blind date. Steve was 26 and still wearing a retainer, a remnant of braces he’d put on to avoid Vietnam.

I moved in with him six months later. My mother refused to visit us and warned, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

Then one night, an “old” married friend, tired of watching us smooch, asked, “When are you two getting married already?” Back in our living-in-sin apartment, Steve asked, “Do you think we should get married?” He didn’t get down on one knee. “Yes, do you?” I asked back.

Products of the Great Depression, my parents wanted me to marry “up” the economic ladder. Mom still hid cash under her mattress. At first, she was disappointed in my husband. Her mantra: “It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one.”

Instead, she got a son-in-law who doted on her more than her own son. Steve drove her to doctors’ appointments, changed light bulbs when she could no longer balance herself without a walker, patiently listened to her stories I’d heard too many times before, never bored.

Mom froze the top layer of our wedding cake and served it to us on our first anniversary; I wished she was still around to bore me with her same-old stories on my 40th.

For Better or Worse

As newlyweds devoted to our careers, Steve and I swam laps after work and grabbed a burrito at 10 p.m. He was a businessman, working long hours. He encouraged me to leave my teaching job and write full-time, in spite of reducing our income.

His parents, the only ones in their social circle unable to wear cute baby charms necklaces, pressured us to reproduce. My mother, who already had grandchildren, advised us, “Why have kids? You’re enjoying your life.”

Our life was full of ambition, foreign films, lazy Sunday afternoons in bed. We strayed from our friends who had kids, moved to the suburbs and talked about garage door openers. They seemed envious of our carefree existence, and we were afraid of becoming them.

I stood by my husband during a year of unemployment and what-do-I-want-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life? I had back surgery (successful) and he had his first colonoscopy (polyps gone!). I took dance classes and he studied karate. We sojourned to romantic inns in New England. We went to our grandparents’ funerals. I had a miscarriage.

I was 39. We were ready to settle down. We were terrified of settling down.

“I don’t want our relationship to change,” I told him.

“You’re the most important person in the world to me,” he said. “Nothing will change.”

“And no garage door openers.”

“We live in a twenty-one story high-rise,” he said, laughing.

I delivered our daughter, Amy, at the age of 41. We were naïve to think our relationship wouldn’t change. Google “ruin a marriage by having children,” and 79.9 million results pop up.

Our romance shifted to the cute baby, the toddler who exhausted us, the preschooler in blatant Oedipal phase, showering Steve with neon-colored hearts: I LOVE YOU DADDY!!!!!

We evolved into soccer parents and chefs de cuisine, nursemaids cleaning up vomit, neurotic parents surviving an overnight hospitalization when our 3-year-old became dehydrated. All the while managing my mother’s care as she disappeared into Lewy body dementia. Watching a parent die adds no romance to a marriage.

No wonder we were spent the first time we dropped Amy off at college. We drove home dazed. Wandered around the streets like jet-lagged tourists, looking for a quick dinner. Neither one of us could speak. Finally: “Want another slice, or are you done?” my husband asked. “I’m done,” I replied. Everyone around us looked under 30. Why were they eating dinner so late? We’d become accustomed to six o’clock meals to feed a cranky child. We liked our new habit — in spite of having made fun of our parents for insisting on all those early-bird specials.

The City of Love

A few months earlier, we’d taken Amy to Paris as a graduation trip. The city of love we’d explored three decades ago. Strolling by the Seine at sunset, we passed couples dangling their feet over the river’s edge. We had an argument that brought me to tears, one of those marital tiffs where, later, neither one of us could remember why it had started.

Amy wondered if we’d ever been in love like these couples on the Seine? Yes we had, and still were. It’s impossible to explain the evolution of a long marriage to an 18-year-old. I vowed to never turn into the marriage of my parents. I remember the shock when my mother told me, “Daddy and I still make love.” She was in her seventies.

After my father died, a man romanced her as if he were 20, rather than 82. I saw my mother smitten, the way she must have been with my father when he first courted her. By the time children grow up, we view our parents in a different phase of their marriage and can’t imagine they’d once been youthful lovers.

Steve and I have seen each other naked in lust, and we’ve bathed each other when surgery scars were raw. We’ve watched a baby come into the world, created from love. We’ve morphed from lovers to parents to empty nesters, filling up the empty space with books, hobbies, naps. Discovering conversations to share about politics. Sharing dreams of retirement. Together, but not knowing what this next phase will be like.

Till Death Do Us Part

Our grandparents’ unions ended in widowhood, marriages shortened by tuberculosis and heart attacks. Our parents’ generation stayed married because they were supposed to. My own parents’ marriage almost made it to 50 years, until my father’s death cut it short.

Our divorced friends have been traumatized, regretful, but never ostracized. When my daughter was in preschool, her teacher glanced around during a parent visiting day and whispered, “By kindergarten, half will be divorced.”

This is the 40th time my husband and I have exchanged anniversary cards. We’re not big on gifts, but cards are an unwritten agreement in our marriage contract. I try to think of something profound to write. Our marriage has been ordinary and extraordinary. What is new to express? Maybe “we’re still married” is enough. Not out of duty, sentimentality or societal norm. Out of love, a lot of perseverance, a bit of luck and the courage to open a slammed door after an argument and say “sorry.”

Perhaps I should use someone else’s words on my husband’s card. A humorous message? “The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret,” Henny Youngman. A philosophical one from Nietzshe? “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Or something literary, from Simone Signoret: “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” Or a song from Sondheim: “Good times and bum times, I’ve seen ’em all/And, my dear, I’m still here.”

When I met Steve, I never imagined what we’d look like four decades later. The only images that came to mind were from previous generations: cranky women in housedresses, distant men in golf shirts, wives making roast beef dinners for husbands who’d arrive home loosening their ties after a tiring commute. Saturday-night bridge games, blaming each other for making the wrong bid.

Splurging on an elegant French dinner, I see an older version of the man who talked to me for hours before we first saw each other’s faces, conversing as if we’d always known each other. Now we run out of things to say. His habits can be annoying. Sometimes he’s inflexible. So am I. He’s also kind, empathetic, always there in a crisis. I hope I am, too.

We play a game in restaurants, predicting what each other will order. Our accuracy rate is 95 percent.

With This Ring

Our fingers have sagged and spread, even though neither of us is overweight. It’s been years since we wore the gold bands we exchanged long ago, announcing our status.

On the eve of this anniversary, I enlist a friend in the jewelry business to see if I can get my ring resized. He measures my finger, examines the inside of the ring.

“I have to warn you,” he says, “the inscription might get ruined if the ring is stretched.”

I love you, U-Bet, Steve had inscribed. I taught him how to make egg creams when everything about each other was still so new. The key to the recipe is U-Bet, the champagne of chocolate syrups manufactured where I grew up, Brooklyn’s nectar of the gods.

My jeweler friend returns with bad news. My ring has a hairline crack and might break if stretched. It is beyond repair.

“She can wear it on a chain around her neck,” Steve suggests.

“That’s what we did in high school,” the jeweler says, laughing.

I once removed it before knee surgery. I used soap to force the ring to part with my fourth finger. Now I return the ring to my dresser, nestling it on a velvet cushion. I feel sad, but the mood lifts when I realize and hope this will be the worst news I ever receive about our 40 years together. We have outgrown our wedding rings, but not our marriage.


Article Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-real-and-true-secret-to-a-40-year-marriage_us_576ada97e4b09926ce5d6657

One in seven couples over 40 don’t talk about money

One in seven couples over the age of 40 have never discussed their their long-term finances, a survey has found, over fears of having an “awkward conversation”.

According to Prudential, 14 per cent of couples over the age of 40 – equivalent to around 4.2 million people – admit that they have never spoken about finances such as pensions or retirement planning with one another. The biggest reason is because it makes them feel “uncomfortable”.

Many also fear that discussions about finances would “boil over” into arguments.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential said: “Money can be a tough topic to discuss at the best of times. Many couples prefer to steer clear of conversations about finances, and especially discussions about longer-term issues like retirement which might feel light-years away.”

Prudential polled over 2,000 people.

7 Unusual Wedding Gifts For Couples Over 40

couple over forty dating

What do you get the couple that has two of everything? It’s a difficult situation to be in– two people have built lives apart, and now they’re starting one together. This means they’re already throwing or giving away many of the things that would have made the best wedding gifts twenty years ago; that blender you found is nice but, if both of them already have a blender, two of those three are going to end up in a thrift shop getting ogled by Macklemore fanboys. So where does that leave you? It’s an old cliche, but in this case it really is the thought that counts. Here are some out of the box, unusual wedding gifts that they’ll really enjoy… at least more than another blender.

1. Babysitting

If they waited this long to get married, chances are one or both of them already has kids. Offer to babysit. Not only is this unusual wedding gift entirely free, it’s also an opportunity for them to get out of the house and spend time together– something that’s difficult but necessary for newlyweds with young children.

2. Home Computer

Chances are that they both have their own computer, but now that they’re getting married they are going to have many more shared accounts, or at least a shared email. Go in with a friend to get them a home computer so they’ll have a place to centralize their new joint presence online.

3. Gifts to Stay Active

The two of them are old enough now to have a lot of their own interests, but that never means they’re too old to try something new. Get them matching gifts that will help them lead an active lifestyle together, like snorkel sets or pedometers. It’s a fun way for them to spend time together while staying in shape and trying new things.

4. Custom Embosser

The couple is consolidating down to one address, and is about to send out a ton of cards in the form of thank you notes. Make it easy on them with anembosser customized with their home address. It’s a bit unusual for a wedding gift, but many couples list it as the best wedding gift they received.

5. Plant a Tree

If they truly have everything, then planting a tree is the way to go. It’s classy, it’s eco friendly and, best of all, it can be done at the last minute in your pajamas. Truly the perfect wedding gift.

6. Fancy Booze Set

They may already have a kitchen so decked out that nothing you get could come close to comparing, but anyone will enjoy a nice bottle of wine or their favorite spirit. You can pick these out yourself or, if you wouldn’t know good booze from hobo juice, you can buy one of these wine or scotchboxes that come with custom glasses– perfect for the honeymoon.

7. Cooking Class

A cooking class will be a fun thing for them to do together, and even the most masterful chef can learn something from taking a class on more exotic cuisines. Try coordinating the class theme with a specialty kitchen gift, like a chinese stir fry class paired with a wok.

What would you buy for a couple over 40? We want to hear about it! Seriously; and we’re not just saying that because you’re so attractive.


Article Source: http://theatozbooks.com/7-unusual-wedding-gifts-for-couples-over-40/