'I Do' Forever
By James Watkins
wife and I will be celebrating our thirtieth anniversary tomorrow. Let's
see that's 28 years longer than Britney's and J Lo's weddings combined.
So, what's the secret? I have in my right hand my suggestions for "Top
Ten Secrets to Staying Married Thirty Years."
10. Be sure you have a pre-nuptial arrangement concerning Letterman or
Leno, flannel or percale, and over the front top or under the back bottom
for the way toilet paper comes off the holder.
9. Lower your standards. Better to go with a real imperfect spouse
than a Hollywood illusion. Anyone can appear funny and flawless with
a team of script writers and plastic surgeons. And, according to a
UCLA study recently reported right here, David Frederick, the study's
co-author, told "Health Day News," "While women seek
out muscular men for fun flings and view them as more attractive .
. . they definitely don't want to marry them. Why? They're seen as
being less faithful, less likely to treat them well, and less emotionally
sensitive." Whew! I weighed 115 on our wedding day.
8. Be aware that "romantic love" has a half life of about
three months. If, like me, you didn't do that well in chemistry, that
means if a romance has an intensity of "10" it will degenerate
to a "5" in just ninety days. In six months, that "I
can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't live without him/her" emotion
will have eroded to a 2.5 on the romance Richter scale. No wonder
many relationships don't last longer than a season of "The Bachelor."
The good news is that real committed love can last a lifetime.
7. Cut loose the lifeboats. If your marriage is sinking, and you've
agreed that divorce and first-degree murder aren't viable options,
you'll spend your time bailing water and patching holes rather than
simply abandoning ship. Which brings us to . . .
6. A marriage counselor is a lot cheaper than a divorce lawyer. (And,
according to the American Journal of Public Health, getting a divorce
has all the health risks of two packs of smokes a day.)
5. Learn to play the saxophone together. Since this is a family newspaper,
let me euphemistically write that all the research confirms that married
couples who never played the sax before marriage, make far sweeter
music after marriage than those who did. And thirty years of practice
with the same partner does produce some really sweet music.
On a related note (pun intended), Dr. Nancy Moore Clatworthy, a sociologist
from Ohio State, has been researching couples that have lived together
before marriage. She found that live-ins argued more about finances,
household matters, recreation, demonstration of affection, and friends,
than married couples. Clatworthy also wrote, "The finding that
surprised me most concerned [playing the saxophone]. Couples who have
lived together before marriage disagreed about it most often."
4. Treat each other as equals: mentally, socially, and spiritually.
(My wife is a whole lot smarter than me, but at least she treats me
like I have her 3.999 GPA. I graduated "magna cum grace.")
3. Give each other space to pursue their dreams. I'm so grateful
that Lois has allowed me to fulfill my dream of becoming an underpaid,
unrecognized, unsuccessful writer (I have more than fulfilled that
dream). Most women would have said, "Quit dreaming and get a
real job!" Plus I am so proud of my wife's accomplishments as
an ordained minister and board member of local and national organizations.
2. Reject stereotypical roles. Lois and I are definitely not Ozzie
and Harriett, but neither are we Ozzie and Sharon. I played the role
of "Mr. Mom" while Lois was in graduate school, but most
of our married life we have worked out of our home so Faith and Paul
had two stay-at-home parents. We have tried to equally share in decision-making,
child-raising and household chores. However, I still haven't convinced
Lois that mowing the lawn is an exciting recreational activity that
I'm sure she'd enjoy. And she hasn't convinced me cleaning the toilet
bowl is as emotionally satisfying as those TV ads seem to portray.
1. A strong common faith. Numerous studies have revealed that married
couples that share a love for God have a stronger love for each other.
Part of it may be the commandments "thou shalt not commit adultery"
and "thou shalt not murder." But several studies show, according
to Dr. G. Rekers, this "isn't because of religion-based prohibitions.
. . . Church attenders were simply found to be happier with their
marriages. Furthermore, it was found that the elevated sense of marital
satisfaction among church attenders extended to their [playing the
saxophone] relationship, a finding that flies in the face of the prevailing
wisdom, which portrays religion as being negative toward [playing
So, those are my theories. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a saxophone
(c) 2004 James N. Watkins. Used by permission. For more information
about James Watkins visit www.jameswatkins.com.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.