My parents have just celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary, which is truly amazing. It is such an incredible achievement, especially when life hasn't always been that easy for them. Going through the ups and downs and being able to come out the other end still smiling, well, it's made my sister and I very proud. We also feel very lucky to have had their love and stability all our lives, so thank you Mama and Pops.
I think to find your soulmate, makes you one of the lucky ones. Not all of us do. I always imagined I would be in the same situation as my parents, thirty years from now, but unfortunately I just haven't met the right man. My longest relationship has been 4 years so I'm a little off target, and even if I met the love of my life tomorrow and lived until the ripe old age of 90, I still wouldn't be able to reach that golden number. Having been around for 45 years of my parents' relationship though, I think I have quite a good insight in to what makes a long and happy marriage, as long as you meet the right person. Love, laughter, friendship, and trust.
I think these are all qualities that relationships need to survive. Love gets deeper over the years, the laughter shared and the friendship effortless. But trust is crucial because once it has been broken, it is nigh on impossible to get back. Looking at divorce around the world, most relationships end due to either financial matters or infidelity, both of which are based on trust. Financially, it is not lack of money that causes break-ups, it's when either partner hasn't been honest about money... wether its what they earn, how they spend it, or an unmentioned debt. Infidelity, of course, is the worst kind of betrayal and it seems 71% of the population cannot forgive or forget, and the marriage ends in divorce. Some couples obviously do survive it though... 29% according to the statistics, but I'm not sure how their lives are ever the same again after this. Once a partner is unfaithful, every late night or office drinks party suddenly take on a different meaning. You may have it in your heart to fully forgive but can you ever really forget? My parents trust each other unreservedly, they always have, and that is one of the reasons they are still together.
I forgot to mention another crucial ingredient to a long and happy marriage... arguing. Personally, I think those couples who say they never have an argument or raise their voice, are just plain weird. It's not natural to keep every irritation or annoyance in, I mean, where does it go if doesn't come out now and again? My parents love a good argument and my sister and I have grown up with a natural inclination towards feistiness. As long as it doesn't linger, then arguing can be a very healthy release. Health experts agree... they say it's better to have a quick and satisfying argument than avoid confrontation. Avoiding an argument, biting your lip or simply walking away, actually raises your cortisol levels. Cortisol levels = stress. You may not realise what's going on in your body but as long as you aren't screaming and throwing glasses, then maybe it's better to let it out next time. I went to a wedding last year, and whilst giving advice to the newlyweds during his speech, the best man quoted the famous line, “Never go to bed angry”, and then followed it with, “Stay up and fight all night instead”. I love it.
With my parents, they will have a row, and two minutes later, be asking if the other wants a cup of tea. My friends and I can be at a dinner party and have a complete barny over something in the newspapers, and be perfectly fine after a few slurps of wine. Boyfriends and I have had almighty debates, and then gone out for the day as if nothing has happened. The only advice I would offer, however, is to never have an argument in a confined space, like a car for instance. I have heard quite a few hilarious car argument stories and been involved in half a dozen myself, and none have ended well…
So love generously, laugh often, trust implicitly, and argue now and again, and you may just reach that elusive anniversary as well.