Sunday, 3 February 2013


I was chatting with a friend this afternoon, who is coming up to the first anniversary of her second marriage.  We were discussing the 'official' anniversary gifts for each year as she said that they had agreed to have a big celebration every five years rather than wait for 25!    I said 'What's the gift for 24 years?' as that will be our anniversary in April 2013.  She didn't know, but asked me - what is the secret of a long and happy marriage?

I don't know why 'long' and 'happy' always go together, because when you've been married a long time, unless you are one of those horribly perfect couples on the inside as well as the outside, the chances are it hasn't always been a bed of roses.  But anyway, getting back to the question....

I instantly said 'Communication'.  

Over the last 24 years, things have variously been bottled up; written in a diary instead of talking about them; or simply left unsaid. At some point diaries were discontinued, and in fact destroyed - a clean sheet of paper, as it were. But with no paper involved. It was a good start to talking more.

I followed it up with 'Sending them away for a year helps too'.

We chuckled but it's true. There is nothing like not having someone around all the time to make you realise how much they mean to you, and perhaps how much you take them for granted.  And the communication flourished for being on writing paper, in an envelope with a postage stamp.  I'm not suggesting that it would work for everyone, but it was good for us.

'And lastly', I said, 'go through a traumatic experience together'.

Having to support each other, and in our case one being reliant on the other to some extent, is a big ask for a relationship.  I'm sure in some cases it can cause massive strain, stress and resentment but in our case it brought us even closer together (at least, if Mr H resents any of it, he hasn't told me!)

So there you have it, my recipe for a long marriage:  Communication, Absence and Trauma.

You could probably leave out the last two.


  1. Even tho u nixed absence and trauma, I think those two experiences are a true test for both.. because u will be able to see which person is the strong one, or the empathetic one.. its a test of patience as well... I think every couple needs a touch of it,its part of life lessons... Look at the trauma u had- u got more stronger because of it and also your husband became more of your rock. You my dear endured his absence whenever he had to go away for work... You both compliment each other.

  2. Communication always. Someone once said never use 'always' and 'never' in argument. In my very pedantic head, having to think about that certainly takes the edge off the shouting. (We met 40 years ago next week!)

    There's something that doesn't quite sit comfortably about absence and trauma being part of the recipe. I guess it's that you have to survive these tests. It can equally well be the catalyst for realising that your partner is a complete waste of space.

  3. Rosie - I too have heard the 'always' and 'never' rule; it only works if you both go by it though, otherwise the one who is sticking by it while being accused of 'always' or 'never' doing something feels even crosser! ;)

    Agreed about the other two, hence my comment that it was good for us but wouldn't for everyone.. although maybe the opposite effect might be exactly what one needs instead of drifting on in the same rut..?

    J x

  4. 24 years is awesome. Congratulations to you--and congratulations to that friend who's creeping up on that first of the second. I kinda like their plan!

    We're looking at ten years. TEN.
    Holy cow. I never intended to be in a marriage again, frankly. And there's 10 years of shared space in a marital relationship?! Hold on while I faint.....LOL
    I don't consider us a 'normal' relationship. LOL Perhaps that's why we've got that 'whoa...seriously?!' ten years.
    We did that long distance thing for five years--and let me tell ya, we draw from that on a regular basis. We know we're graced to get to be in shared space and we know what 'absence' does to solidify 'stuff'. And we know about trauma...LOL....again! Only I'd prefer to be on the OTHER end of it, tyvm. I will own, it's been extremely good for recognizing just how much the other person has to do/was doing.
    And of course communication. I did diaries and unsent letters and whole bundles of 'stuff' in that first marriage. No diary this time--but I do have a journal with a personal inventory that sits on the nightstand, totally accessible for reading/communication purposes. Strange but true! Because it sits there, I know opening my mouth HAS to happen. *laughing* I'm kinda one who needs that accountability.


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