October 28, 2018.
What is the secret to a long marriage? It’s simple. Don’t get divorced.
The truth is simple but not always easy. I can’t take the credit for that answer either; Jamie Lee Curtis uttered these words of wisdom before me. I can, however, attest to the truth of them.
My husband and I have been married for so long that I had to use a calculator to confirm the number. True. We’ve been married 33 years as of this September. I can’t even write this without hearing my husband’s oft-made comment ringing in my ears, “You get less for murder” which is sometimes delivered with a chuckle to his mates. This has been his joke on the subject ever since we celebrated our 18th or 19th anniversary. The routine along with my subsequent eye roll is a well-scripted act.
We’ve seen in the media this week stories of Posh’s distress that David Beckham admitted that their long marriage (on the celebrity scale) was hard work. Kudos to him for being honest. I’m sure he was talking seriously about the subject and not implying that Posh is hard work, I’m (almost) sure. I hope the stories of Posh’s tantrum are exaggerated. She knows the truth of it and I assume that if there’s any truth in the rumours of her conniption it is because she is using the time honoured tactic of keeping him on the back foot. Male Management 101.
Anyway, in all seriousness, the answer is to hang in there. My husband and I have often said that our marriage is held together with true grit. Of course there is so much more than this. How do you describe the millions of shared moments of fun, joy, intimacy, pride as well as sadness and grief? I sure don’t have the skill.
We haven’t always found it easy. In fact, it was after 30 years of marriage that some huge cracks started to show. Like an old house, suffering with the ravages of time and the elements it needed some urgent maintenance. Even rebuilding in places.
Some of the stumps supporting the whole thing had rotted out over time. One of these being raising a family. This job was done (but never dusted). A common task that once took up so much of our time and effort was completed. Our common pride in a job well done certainly felt good but didn’t take up as much time as the actual task had done. The spare time we both had led us to different interests and a slight disconnection.
A disconnection here and a disconnection there and before you know it you’re standing on your own wondering how the hell you got there and who the bloody hell do they think they are?
Of course, this all coincides with menopause. Men-o-pause. Lol. For me looking back I guess it is a time where you look down the barrel of your own mortality. A realisation that there is probably more time behind you than there is in front of you. A time to re-evaluate and in my case I didn’t like the lonely feeling of disconnection. I wasn’t satisfied with having a roommate. My heart and my feelings were still like the teenage me when we first connected. But how could we rebuild the foundations of our marriage?
The answer is to add back points of connection. Feeling connected to someone builds back further connection and strengthens the relationship bit by bit.
I believe that for both of us we felt it was time for us to experience more ‘me time’ and explore ideas and activities that we hadn’t previously had the means to do. While true, I think we fell into a trap of thinking more about each other as a separate ‘Me’ and ‘You’ and we forgot about the ‘We’. Relationships are built on ‘We’. Without it, there is no relationship.
Building back connection takes creating moments and feelings of ‘We’ in amongst the ‘You’ and ‘I’. I have come to believe that a marriage should be thought of like a third person in the relationship. It deserves that respect from both parties and both should be thinking in terms of how does what I do help or support the marriage the relationship, the entity with its own assets, bank account, achievements and dreams? That is the ‘We’. It’s ok to have your own hopes and dreams and by feeding ‘Our’ hopes and dreams it gives you the freedom and the means to attain those priorities too.
I didn’t just wake up to this though. In fact, I was heading the other way on this pretty quickly. I stumbled on help while trawling the Internet in despair in the middle of the night. I found ‘The Save the Marriage System’ from Dr. Lee Baucom. I bought and paid for it, some $40 odd US dollars and downloaded ‘The System’, a series of eBooks, PDFs and audio files straight away. Reading his thoughts about connection being the key, not communication, and having him describe the psychological path that I was on was enlightening. I give full credit to the system for keeping me in place and giving it the chance and effort my marriage deserved. I also discovered he had a ‘Save the Marriage’ weekly podcast and I was hooked. It certainly didn’t hurt that his voice and accent sounded to me like Matthew McConaughey speaking in my ear. I still listen to this podcast every week, and his other ‘How to live a thriving life’ podcast. I consider it essential maintenance for my personal growth and our ever strong again ‘We’.
I need to disclose that I am now an affiliate for ‘The Save the Marriage Program’. I signed up today when I wrote this article. I personally have benefitted from the program and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. In fact, I think it should be pretty much essential reading for anyone contemplating marriage or in any long-term relationship. I hope that if you do buy the program it will help you too and know that if you do I will put any commission I make into keeping my website and my marriage working too.