How to Stay Married for 49 Years

One of my favorite things this holiday season was the opportunity to celebrate my parents’ 49th wedding anniversary. The older I get and the longer I’ve been married, the more I realize how remarkable this truly is.

I asked my parents if they had any tips or advice that they thought had helped them reach this milestone. Here is what they shared:

  1. We knew each other really well when we got married. We had shared values and a decent-to-good knowledge of the character of the person we were marrying.
  2. We do things together. We really enjoy each other’s company. Most Saturday mornings start with a cup of coffee around the table talking. This hasn’t always been true when life was busier, but we have always strived to find time to just be together. This approach has given us great memories to look back on. We still enjoy going to the movies, out to dinner, or even watching a football game together (which my twenty-five-year-old self would never have believed). So even 49 years in, we are still building memories by doing things together.
  3. Our view of marriage has evolved over the years to be what we think is a much more comprehensive biblical view, which wouldn’t have happened without intentionality on our part. We have actively tried to learn and increase our understanding of what biblical marriage involves by participating in Bible studies and watching other Christian marriages.
  4. We consider the other spouse when making decisions. This sounds basic, but can actually prove challenging. This spans from the mundane of how we fold our clothes (to the liking of the other) all the way to career decisions (what effect does this have on my spouse).
  5. We help each other in every day chores. We have never had a his work / her work mentality. We have approached marriage and parenting with a team approach and this includes tasks like emptying the dishwasher and driving the kids to soccer practice.
  6. We strive to be patient with the other. We would be lying if we acted as though the other spouse never annoys us – that they do nothing that gets under our skin. You might think that after 49 years we would be done annoying each other, not so! Believing that marriage is designed to make us holier, one of the ways we move towards growing in our faith is practicing patience and grace towards the other spouse when one of their idiosyncrasies shows up.
  7. We refuse to say “I told you so” when something goes wrong. This can be so tempting at times, but it pushes against the mentality of team that we are after in our marriage.
  8. We believe communication and expectations are key. Make sure you are talking a lot so that you are aware of what the other desires. This helps us more easily identify where we have different expectations, that without communication could easily escalate to an argument or fight.
  9. Laugh. Laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself (or your spouse) too seriously. Marriage is much more fun when you are willing to joke and have fun.
  10. We would be remiss though if we didn’t say that our marriage has lasted through the grace of God. Two imperfect people making it for 49 years can be done only with God’s help. We have tried not to let our marriage trump our relationship with God. Marriage works best with two people clinging first to the gospel (their first love) and then to each other. We give Him all the credit.


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