I love what I do for a living but let’s be honest – a major job hazard being a couples therapist is being witness to relationships that are falling apart everyday, right in front of your eyes.  It can wear on you (it does me sometimes).

So, I decided to switch things up because today is a VERY special day (for us). Today, we are celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary. Woohoo!! 

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Relaxing day at the home I grew up in

And in honor of that, I decided to reach out to several couples I know and ask them two questions:

  • Would are two strengths of your marriage that makes it rock?
  • And, if they know any couples that are struggling, what is their biggest complaint?

Now, if you are looking for the secret formula to a successful, long-term marriage – you will not find it here. BUT what you will find are the many ways couples are rockin’ their marriage and making it work. Every day. 

Here’s what they had to say – in their own words – honestly and candidly (some are original names, some have been changed, and some requested to be anonymous)..All Good!..

Stacy, 40 and Don, 42. Together 22 years, married 20. We have zero trust issues. I am probably the least jealous person alive. I trust what he says completely and I know that he feels the same way. I don’t check his phone or any of his private things. And as far as I know, he doesn’t do that to me either. I couldn’t be with a person that I didn’t trust. But honestly, I don’t know why our marriage is so good. He is by far the best person I have ever known. I feel thankful everyday that we are together. He has a lot of patience! He is kind, hardworking, and an amazing father. Our kids are so lucky. Our marriage is not perfect. We bicker and get annoyed with each other but there’s one thing we are both good at. We both know when we are wrong and can apologize for it. I can ALWAYS admit when I am wrong. Don is a saint to deal with me sometimes! He can see past my faults and never judges me. He always makes me feel good about myself, even when I don’t. He still opens car doors for me and tells me I look beautiful.

fotolia_96768151_subscription_monthly_mBrooke and Matt, both age 41. Together 22 years, married 16. We work as a team, he has my back & I have his….especially when it comes to parenting our 3 boys. We really try to communicate and talk things out…even if it means we disagree on a topic. This can be very challenging when we’re running in 3 different directions with the boys and work. I’m going to add one more…we do our own thing. I work out most mornings and get together with my girlfriends. He hunts on the weekends ( when in season) and puts time in with his friends. And we make sure we go out or spend time without the boys…time for us. We talk every morning during my drive in to work and while he’s at work. We discuss the plan for that night with the boys…what we’ll do for dinner…things we see happening for the week. It’s funny but it is some of our most productive conversations.

Cindy, 53 and Doug age 59. Together 33 years, married 31.  Two strengths of our marriage is we both have a willingness to compromise. I think that’s very important in a marriage. We also actually enjoy each other’s company. We like spending time together. 

Shelly 53 and Jim, 56. Together 17 years, married 13. I believe our strengths are being honest with one another and we are very supportive of one another. We always make each other smile and laugh off any little disputes we may have had. Jim is my best friend and I love to spend every minute with him. Common complaints I have heard amongst a lot of married people is money problems or now that the children have grown they don’t seem to like their spouse or have nothing in common.

Tina. 53 and Mark, 50. Together 27 years, married 25. Two of our strengths have been a sense of humor and not sweating the small stuff. Life has its ups and downs. We have also learned over time to pick our battles. Although I don’t know a lot of people who are struggling with their marriage, one of the biggest problems I hear is it’s too expensive to get divorced.

Kathy, 52 and Gary, 54. Together 31 years, married 29. I remember my dad saying that’s one of the few things that he was right about you have to be best friends before you get married, because marriage is a lot of work. After 29 years, I still love my wife. We have been able to withstand infidelity and my addiction to alcohol. Through it all, she has stood by my side. We have stood by each other even during those dark times. I have taken the steps to do my part and repair the marriage. Because of these things and having two children, we still have a strong marriage. We are still best friends, have our own secrets with one another and can laugh at and with one another. Most families have sort of dysfunction/issues and if you’re able to work through that you can keep your marriage together.

12144748_1074651035887610_7887139842446892770_nAnnie and Vinnie, both 55. Together 32.5 years, married, 31. It’s hard for me to pick only two strengths but I think its forgiveness and acceptance that we are very different. Daily hugs and humor. Affection, a must. We’ve been married 31 years. As we say, 25 years of wedded bliss with about 6 years that were rocky. I see many couples – women – complaining about what their husbands don’t do and husband’s complaining about what their wives don’t do. Sometimes I want to say lead by example – say something nice that your spouse did. Do it daily and it will become the norm. I used to always expect more, realizing now all the pressures that were on his shoulders when money was tight and he quietly went to work everyday knowing that that week’s paycheck was going toward bills with very little left for any fun. But he kept on going day after day knowing he wanted to take care of all of us. How could I have asked for more?? I was too buried taking care of three little ones, two dogs and was trying to paint rooms during naps and make repairs to a house that was very outdated, be room mother and the girl scout leader, soccer manager, PTSO president. I really noticed all he did. He the same with me. With busy lives, we spent less time together and at one point had lost each other and forgot about how good we were in the beginning. We chipped our way back to that and we are now in a much better place. I think when you’re first married there’s a point when you realize you didn’t know your spouse as well as you thought but the reality is that you’re both growing up and finding yourselves so you only knew a little about each other when you married, because there’s so much more to know as you grow up and mature. I’m very happy that we made it.

Glen, 53 and Ruth, 50. Together 26 years, married 25. I would say that two of our strengths are communication and friendship. One of the biggest complaints I hear from other couples is money. They celebrated their 25th anniversary this past weekend! Congrats!

Stacy, 52 and Jim, 47. Together 25 years, married 18. Two of our greatest strengths have been trust and the ability to disagree with one another. The trust is key in growing your marriage and being able to tolerate your differences, disagree but still stay together and recognize that the differences don’t have to break the marriage. With other couples, I find that many couples find their own life with friends and work (too much) and forget to include the spouse.

Julie, 55 and George, 57. Together 34 years, married 32. Two strengths- we love each other, but are not, and never have been “joined at the hip.” We have our own interests, as well as common ones. Secondly, we realized very early in our relationship that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. Through the years because of a variety of life events, it has been a 80/20 split, or a 60/40 split, or maybe even one of us carrying the entire load for the other. The balance comes from being able to recognize each other’s needs and acknowledging who is better equipped at a given point in time to step up, whether it be financially, emotionally or energy level-wise. Ultimately, it balances out. We also have a running joke that our marriage has survived out of sheer will, and there is some truth in that. Most of our closest friends are happily married. We do have many acquaintances who have gone their separate ways, and we have almost done so twice in the course of our marriage. I think it’s because sometimes when people are frustrated or disappointed with the state of their own lives, there is a tendency to blame their spouse for their own unhappiness.

Kate, 37 and David, age 36.  Together 11 years, married, 8. One of our greatest strengths is that we continue to challenge each other to be better people, parents, and friends daily. I think that’s really important. We also have intellectual stimulation–witty banter and keeping us both on our toes. What I have found among people I know is that they fail to treat his/her spouse like you don’t ever want to lose them. They also fail to show kindness and affection daily… taking each other for granted.

Fotolia_111368189_Subscription_Monthly_MDwight, 52 and Paula, 41. Together, 17 years, married, 12. Two strengths that rise to the top are that we generally agree on many of the issues that couples are known to argue about. Take money as an example. I’m a pretty frugal person, by nature, but my wife appreciates the fact that saving money will enable us to retire when we’re young and healthy and able to maximize the value of our free time. Another would be that we’re both very committed to raising children who are loved, happy and poised to succeed. Also, we have a “special needs” child who requires a lot of attention (medically and emotionally), and caring for him, together, is a huge part of our collective life. We feel that way about our other child, too, but her needs require less effort.  

Anonymous. Him, age 53 and her, age 49. Together 29 years, married 27. A few strengths that we have is trust, respect, and communication. We communicate really well and so that has always felt so easy.  We have always been best friends and connected right from the beginning. I really enjoy her company and we have fun. I think all of those things are important in a marriage. We don’t know any unhappy couples. 

Anonymous. Both age 40. Together 18 years, married 9. Two strengths of our marriage are honest communication and giving the other space to be his/her own person. We continue to grow and change. I think the biggest complaint among our unhappy friends is probably communication, and among our friends with kids, is not receiving enough help from their partner. 

Karen, 58 and Ron, 60. Together 16 great years, married 10. Our strengths are patient communication – by that I mean we work hard at trying not to miscommunicate. When we plans for example, and if we mess up we really try to laugh it off. We also treat each other with kindness. When one has had a bad day, we say so and ask the other for “vent session” for 10 minutes to get out of the system. Learned that from another couple that was on their second marriage.The thing I hear from unhappy couples is that they often take each other for granted and don’t appreciate the other spouse. Ron echoes Karen by sharing that communication and a mutual commitment to each other’s happiness. His observation of unhappy couples is a failure to put the relationship and their partner first. 

 

A huge THANK YOU to all the couples who helped me write this wonderful and inspiring blog!! 

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My sister and brother

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