What makes a marriage last? The answer to that question is different for everyone, and every marriage is individual. That said, there are lessons to be gleaned from other marriages and things we can incorporate into our own to fortify and strengthen them. But what are they?
Whether it’s regular hot sex for decades or something more subtle and intangible, the people we know who have been married for 10, 20, 30+ years all have their own reasons their relationships have endured while so many others have failed. A few weeks ago, we heard from 10 women on what a “good marriage” is.
This time, eight men get their say about what makes a marriage stand the test of time. And what they have to say might surprise you!
1.) “Upon discovering that my husband and I have been married for 41 years, people always ask us what is our secret. So I posed this question to my spouse, who is very quiet and parses his every word. Without hesitation, he remarked it was because as a highly romantic, creative individual who is the social secretary for our lives, he never knows what to expect from me from one minute to the next, and he finds he likes it. So the secret to our union is to always keep things interesting and exciting.”
~ Carol Gee, Atlanta, Georgia, married 41 years
2.) “I believe there is one key trait that can make or break a marriage — servant-hood. It may sound countercultural, but by considering your spouse’s needs as much or more than your own, you can exhibit love and humility that will strengthen a marriage, not prohibit it. I found this to be true in my own marriage.”
~ Jay Lowder, founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and author of Midnight in Aisle 7, married 18 years
3.) “We respect and always want the best for each other. Therefore, we never allow the other to become complacent. We always encourage each other to learn, improve, and evaluate things in our lives that should be changed.”
~ Jim Sweeney, creator of MIKE Sports Entertainment, married 33 years
4.) “We began our relationship as friends. We were both dating other people but knew each other as friends. Eventually the partners we both had went their ways and we started seeing each other. Even during our formative years, I considered my wife a good friend and confidant. We shared and enjoyed lots of first-time things together, which helped cement our bond.”
~ Mark W., San Jose, California, married 31 years
5.) “A marriage works because both people feel comfortable with each other in every single respect of the relationship. In other words, they can’t be afraid to do those little embarrassing things that you would never do when you’re dating. You need to have a few screaming arguments about stuff, as long as they aren’t re-hashed every single day in several ways. You have to have fun, no matter what it is. I dress up in a dress for Halloween or she makes silly faces and noises at me.”
~ Robert D. Sollars, married 14 years
6.) “I respect my wife for all the reasons I was attracted to her to begin with: her intelligence and wit, her beauty and grace, her openness and her emotionality. [Also], a child-centric household is not only not good for your children, but also for your marriage. I highly recommend time without kids as a regular part of your schedule.”
~ Dr. Mark Gettleman, aka Dr. Goofy Gettwell, married 14 years
7.) “My oldest friends are the ones I share common interests and activities with, and I believe the same goes with marriage. My first marriage fell apart after our kids left the house, because without them, we had nothing in common. She had her friends and activities and I had mine. In reality it fell apart long before the kids left, because to be honest, we never really enjoyed doing the same things together. Thus we were married, but not really friends. I now am happily married for five years to a woman … (and) we both love doing so many things together.”
~ Chris Rither, married five years
8.) “Number one thing we do to keep our marriage blissful — communicate. Ninety percent of the world’s problems are a result of poor or non-existent communication. If either of us wants something, we ask. If we like or dislike something, we say so. If we are angry, we say so. Our reasoning is simple: This person chose me, s/he has dedicated him/herself to me, and there is nothing that I can say that cannot be discussed and resolved. We don’t agree on everything and we should not, but we respect each other and each other’s position.”
~ Louis Altman, married 13 years
Eight men. Eight different answers. The truth is, what makes a marriage last depends so much on the specific people involved. We can listen to advice all day long, but in the end, we know what makes our marriages tick. Only we know how to make them good.
Now, go forth and do those things.