Georgia Kohart - Longevity of a happy marriage

By GEORGIA KOHARTkohart@crescent-news.com Published:

We have a wedding anniversary coming up this week. I'm not sure who decided that certain anniversaries are more important than others, but I think the one we will celebrate is considered one of the "biggies." Thirty-five years together. That is a long time and I hope it grows to be much longer. To what do we owe the longevity of our union?

I have absolutely no idea.

What works for one couple might be a disaster for another. Some married people are practically mirrors of each other. They agree on almost everything to the point that it becomes difficult to ascertain who is who.

Sometimes people even grow to resemble each other - like a set of salt and pepper shakers. Their clothes always fit neatly and never have food stains or a missing button. I have a feeling they never have to scrape something off the bottom of their shoes.

Evenings in their homes are quiet and calm. Water never cascades through the kitchen ceiling from an overflowing upstairs bathtub. And they produce offspring that do their homework without being reminded and automatically do the dishes after dinner.

I am not being sarcastic. I have always held these couples in great awe. How do they do it?

When Tim and I got married, it was a week after he graduated from college. We thought we knew it all. In actuality we knew pretty much nothing, except that we wanted to be together. We didn't know why, didn't think about why. It was fun. It was simple - for about a month. Then the real stuff needed attention like where we were going to work and live and what we were going to eat. All of these things are still pretty important.

Tim and I are opposites in just about every way, but, somehow it works - most of the time. When it doesn't, we try to fix it.

Another thing I've noticed is that we are interchangeable around the house. I'm no stranger to drills, hammers, nails and the trash can and he doesn't shrink from loading the dishwasher or fixing an occasional meal. We have an unspoken agreement between us: I fix him good food and lots of it and he is available for lifting things too heavy for me and retrieving items from places that are out of my reach. If one of us is down and discouraged, the other one reassures and uplifts. If we are sad at the same time, then we allow ourselves to be sad. We share a love and appreciation of animals - domestic and wild.

When we were young we just let life happen; now we like to plan ahead and set goals. Maybe we'll reach them, maybe we won't. Perhaps we'll change our minds. In the meantime, we enjoy imagining and discussing all the possibilities.

As parents have we been good examples for our daughters? I believe we have, for the most part. In retrospect it's easy to see where we should have taken a firmer stance. It's quite plain there were many times we sweated the small stuff overmuch. We have tried to always maintain a united front.

It's easier to stand firm if there is someone there to grab you when you weaken and stumble. However, there have been occasions when I needed to take "Dad" aside and fill him in on a few pertinent details.

On the other hand, I appreciate the times I've started to say: "You need to discuss this with your dad, and he has jumped in with: "Already taken care of it." Maybe just sticking it out the way we have is the best example we can give them.

At some weddings we've attended recently, we were to pen bits of advice for the bride and groom. I usually write "Always allow enough time to fall in love all over again" or "Keep a sense of humor."

Humor is priceless in a relationship - if we let it work. Humor can take the sting out of a bad decision. It can lighten a tense moment.

We have to able to laugh at ourselves and allow ourselves to be laughed at.

But most importantly, we need to laugh together.

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