Here’s a hint; marriages do not last when the love is based on looks and hot sex.
The odds of your marriage lasting for the long haul are stacked against you. The percentage of marriages ending in divorce fluctuates depending on how you do the math. But regardless of how the numbers are crunched, the odds of your marriage lasting for over 40 years are not encouraging.
When I tell people I’ve been married for over 40 years the reaction is interesting. I’ve had people applaud. Others are shocked. I’ve even had a person reach out and shake my hand; congratulating me as though I had won the million dollar lottery.
It takes hard work to make a marriage last. But there are two hacks which will help your marriage last more than 40 years.
First, discover and embrace the appropriate definition of love.
Think of how you use the word love. Have you ever said, “I love ice cream?” Do you love science fiction? Is it your nature to love sunsets? Are you in love with your dog?
Definitions are important. When you say, “I love my wife” pause and think of what you mean. Are you saying she’s is hot and turns you on? Did St. Valentine shoot you in the heart with a love arrow and sprinkle magic love dust in your face causing you to lose control? Have you ever said, “I fell in love?”
Here’s the danger of viewing love as an emotional force over which you are powerless. If you fell into love you can fall out of love. If the love dust fell on you it can wear off. If you entered into marriage with a “I can’t help myself” mentality you are headed for trouble.
The ancient Greek language clarifies the various meanings of the word love. Greek has three words for love. One refers to a brotherly kind of love. Another focuses on a sexual or physical attraction. The last Greek word emphasizes a love based on an act of the will.
If your marriage is going to last, the love for your partner must be based on an act of the will. Marriages do not last when the love is based on looks and hot sex. Those will fade. A lasting love is a love rooted in a decisive act of the will. This kind of love says, “I choose to love no matter what the circumstances.”
The second hack for staying married for over 40 years is based on a simple but powerful concept.
Not long ago I flew from Spokane to Minneapolis. Seated next to me was a young man traveling to see his sweetheart. He planned to propose during the visit. When he discovered I had been married for 40 years he asked if I had any advice. I told him his marriage will last if he always shows her respect.
If you want a lasting marriage, never lose respect for your partner. Aretha Franklin made it clear as she sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T that if she didn’t get it, “you might walk in and find out I’m gone.”
Respecting your partner means you value her thoughts, feelings, opinions, and ideas. Listen to her carefully. Ask for her input. Be interested in her job and how her day went. Go out of your way to treat her in a thoughtful and courteous way.
Always show her respect while in public. Have you ever been with a couple where a husband puts his wife down in front of you? He’s critical and makes fun of her. His attitude sends the message she is stupid. He cuts her off while talking and argues with her.
It’s also important to show respect when it’s only the two of you. Don’t be demeaning or call her names. Communicating in private with your wife is the time to have deep and important conversations. It’s not the time to be disrespectful. Your marriage will suffer if you treat her disrespectfully even when she is the only one looking.
A husband who treats his partner with disrespect is pushing the marriage toward the rocks.
If you’ve treated your partner with disrespect you will need to repair the damage. Do everything possible to change your behavior. It will take time and effort but the damage can be undone.
You can remain married for many years if you use these two hacks. Make sure your love for her is rooted in a decisive act of the will and always show respect. I’ve field tested these two hacks over 40 years. They worked for me and they will work for you.
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