How to Survive 30 Years of Marriage

This week marks 30 years of marriage! On August 2, we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. As I reminisce and look back I can say it has been like a magical, romantic, fairy tale…… then I snap back to the reality of the last 30 years. Neither Dean nor myself are particularly romantic people.

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If you have read much of what I write, you will know that I was raised in a cult. My husband’s family had also belonged to this wacky religion, but not for nearly as long. I hated my wedding… it was planned around many of the principles that were layed out by this church. By this time I was pretty much on my way out, but some things were just easier, so I went with the way my mom wanted things. A simple dignified affair. Gag… if you know me, you know that this is not me. But whatever….lets just get through this ridiculous thing. So I will not dwell too much on my non-existent fairytale wedding.

I will say that we were counselled by the minister of the church to just go our separate ways. He did not want to marry us, because he had never seen a more mismatched couple (and he was not the only one). I really do not think he liked me, and he didn’t think I would make much of a godly wife. Probably because I wanted the word obey removed from our vows. Well.. I suppose he was correct on that point.

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We had lots of rough times over the years, like everyone else I guess. When you are young and naïve you really do not look ahead and think much about what those wedding vows really mean. We think about the better, the richer, the health. Those are the good times. Those are the easy times. What really builds or breaks a marriage is all the other stuff… and some times there is a lot of other stuff! The worse, the poorer, the sickness. After 30 years I do not even want think about the last part of those vows Until Death Do Us Part.

One of the things that kept me/us going through the rough stuff was that we had no intention of giving the nay-sayers a reason to say ‘ I told you so’. Although Dean says what kept us together over the years was the fact the neither one of us wanted custody of the kids! Yes… a sense of humour is needed in a marriage, at least if you are married to him. He also wanted U2 to played as we walked down the isle… I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. We settled on Stand By Me.

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I think a long and successful marriage is mostly like childbirth. While we are going through the rough parts, it feels excruciating, we want to quit, we want to give up. But when you look back on the years you kind of forget the bad, or just don’t focus on it. Instead you are totally focused on what you created together and you see nothing but the love.

That being said… I won’t say that after 30 years a marriage is all happy, happy, joy, joy, all of the time. At least not for our marriage! Ours is mostly love, peace and a little bit of go fuck yourself. And I/we are pretty ok with it.

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What makes a long-lasting marriage? I think each long-term marriage has to evolve and grow along with the people in this marriage. It will change over time. My marriage is not going to be like yours or maybe anything you desire. Therefore I can in no way provide any marriage advice for anyone. But there are a few things that I have learned, in random order, over the years. This is assuming that you are not married to a total asshole who really should just be living alone.

  • I think lots of us think we will change the person we marry. And it is true…we do change them. But often not in the way that we want. If we try to change them into what we want, over the years we will change them into resentful, angry and bitter people. You are marrying a person and not a project. If you want a project skip the marriage and buy a fixer upper. Its easier.
  • You need communication. No one is a mind reader. Don’t stomp around and pout for days if you are upset. Cool off and then discuss it, in a mature manner.
  • Accept that sometimes you are wrong. Admit that you made a mistake. practice saying ” I think you are you are right about this’ . Practice saying “I’m sorry’. But only if you really are. Don’t be a doormat for someone else’s ego.
  • You can be two separate people within one great marriage. Develop your own hobbies, interests and ideas. Try to be interested and excited for your spouses new hobby even if you think it is flakey, stupid or weird. (Just what kind of weirdo likes hairless cats anyway?)
  • Compromise. On our first date, my now husband asked what I wanted to listen to. I said ‘anything country’. He replied ‘ this car doesn’t play country’ SO we compromised…. anytime I am in the car with him, we only play country. Problem solved.
  • Quit taking it all so seriously. Laugh more. Life isn’t perfect so just develop a sense of humour about it all. Before you know it… it could be and will be all over.
  • Marriage is messy. It’s bad breath, it’s smelling someone else’s puke, it’s unplugging toilets, it’s piles of dirty socks, its crying so hard there is someone else’s snot bubbles being wiped on your shoulder. It’s about being there for another other person through it all.
  • Doing nice things for each other matters more than romance, flowers and gifts. Starting my car when it’s 40 below or fixing something is as sexy AF. Give me a new leak free toilet over a bouquet of roses any day. Although plants for the garden are always welcome!
  • Bonus points for just not saying anything about the 5 pounds your spouse gained and the fact that they are still wearing pj pants at 2 in the afternoon.

So as we celebrate the fact we lasted 30 years I feel pretty good about we have done, what we have survived, what we have built. I am most proud of the legacy and example we leave for our kids. We are a couple that stuck it out, fought hard, didn’t quit and loved each other even when we hated each other. I really can not even imagine what the next 30 years will be like, but I am up for the challenge. marriage

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35 Comments

  1. LOVE this my friend! So very true on many level in every marriage I believe. Another thing that has kept you two together? Your awesome senses of humor!

  2. First, congrats! I’ve been married 43 years so I can say, with certainty, that there is a lot of wisdom into this post. You make one heck of a couple!

  3. My favorite bit? Playing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” as the wedding processional.
    We will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in 6 days.
    I’d wish you much happiness on yours, but it appears you’ve already found it. And that’s where it’s at.
    How about I wish you even more happiness in the coming years?
    Congratulations on learning quite a few of the secrets of life.

  4. I always smile when I see “secrets to a happy marriage” or the like written by some young thing who’s been married for 5 minutes. It takes 30 years to realize that there are no rules that work for everyone. We’re just all doing the best we can through all those ups and downs and sticking with the person who actually still likes us after 30+ years of all that upheaval! We’re coming up to 35 years in February – at times I never thought we’d get there, but hey we’re rocking it and so are you! Congrats and happy anniversary.

  5. Spot on! I’m about to celebrate 23 years and I agree with every point! I definitely had to give up being a brat for our marriage to succeed…and it wasn’t easy.

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  7. Great post and congratulations on the rock solid marriage. My husband and I will be celebrating 49 years October 2nd and I always add, as an aside, 5 years of wedded bliss, not necessarily consecutive. He asked me when we could make it 6 years and I told him, maybe next year. 😉
    Glad I found your blog here!
    b

  8. Thank you for the honesty. Everyone thinks marriage is 50 years of constant love. And it is, but it’s not to romantic love everyone associates the four letter word with. Like you said, it’s leak free toilets, someone to embrace your weird hobbies, someone to accept your snot bubbles and someone to look back on after it all and say, “we did it.”

  9. Love all of these wonderful tips! We just had our 40th. I can’t believe we have been married so long. Like life, you have ups and downs, happy days and tough days, but in the end………..I love being married to my husband. We are a great team.

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  10. This gives me hope. I am starting a new relationship and there are so many challenges. I love seeing that everything CAN work out.

  11. Happy Anniversary! Mine is Solar Eclipse Day! He thinks he’s getting out of getting me a gift haha! We’ve been together for 26 years! You are totally right, a little give, a little take, and a little go fuck yourself. Never truer words were spoken.

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