Relationship Goals! That’s what I thought when I saw a couple celebrating 50 years of marriage. My husband and I were celebrating our 7th year wedding anniversary at the time and we noticed the couple as they walked in the restaurant because of the slogan on their matching T-shirts: “The First 50 Years Are The Hardest.”
I actually had a chance to hear wisdom from another couple who has been married over 50 years. They described the secret to their long and happy relationship. I’d like to share with you what I learned from them so you can add these tips to your #RelationshipGoals.
Being happily married is not about avoiding conflict; It’s about knowing how to get over it.
Donald and Gloria met “the old fashioned way,” at church, on her 18th birthday. Gloria was actually on a date with a young preacher, but she had her eye on Donald because he was so well dressed. They had a chance to meet when Gloria’s date got a flat tire and Donald offered to help. They were engaged 7 months later!
I loved hearing their love story. I also loved the practical advice they shared on how to make your relationship go the distance.
1. “Our foundation was a commitment to God and to each other”
As newlyweds, they made this commitment to each other: Divorce is not an option. They took that promise seriously and made a decision to work through whatever came their way. As Gloria stated, “Anything worthwhile is worth doing. And marriage is worthwhile.” Donald said, “There isn’t a marriage on this earth that won’t be challenged. But if I please God, I’ll please my mate and I’ll please myself.”
2. “It’s about knowing how to reconcile and make up”
Forgiveness and reconciliation have helped Donald and Gloria’s relationship stand the test of time. For example, they described a heated argument in the early years of their marriage–what Donald called an “intense fellowship,”–one Sunday on the way to church. Gloria got so angry that she yelled, “Stop the car!” got out, and walked home.
At the same time, the kids were in the back seat discussing which parent they’d live with when their parents got divorced. Donald decided Gloria was too angry to get back in the car so he headed to church.
Gloria was not happy when he returned home! But in his usual way, Donald asked: “Ok. How long are you gonna be mad?” Gloria said, “He always finds a way to make me laugh, and we kiss and make up.”
The takeaway from this relationship goal is that being happily married is not about avoiding conflict; It’s about knowing how to get over it.
3. Know your spouse’s love language, apology language, and “Do me Baby!” Language
Gloria actually clutched her pearls when her husband shared this one, but if your relationship goal is to stay happily married and chasing your spouse around the house naked even after 50 years, you need to know how to make your spouse feel loved with the little things you do every day. You also need to know how to kiss and make up after a fight, and how to romance & seduce each other!
4. “It’s just normal to me. It’s just one year at a time.”
Gloria went on to say, “I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s just being married!” Although she was excited about celebrating 50 years of marriage (she was the one who planned the fabulous wedding anniversary celebration, after all) Gloria said 50 years of marriage was just normal!
Her husband Donald agreed: “It’s one day at a time. Then you look up, and it’s been 50 years.”
So what do Donald and Gloria’s insights have to do with you?
While you’re dating and moving into the relationship phase, Your #RelationshipGoals should include choosing someone who is fit for the institution of marriage. Choose someone who isn’t just going to treat you well in the first 50 days of your relationship. You want someone who is going to consistently love you for 50 years and beyond!
To do that, you have to look deeper than chemistry and you have to go beyond what some sisters tell me: “All I need to know is, does he have a job, and does he know Jesus.”
There’s got to be something stronger to make a relationship work. As psychologist Erich Fromm stated:
“Love is a decision; it is a judgment; it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”
Gloria and Donald show us the power of making a decision to love each other through thick and thin. They made a commitment to their commitment and they consistently followed through with kindness, forgiveness, love, joy and passion. If you want a happy, successful relationship, do what they did.
BMWK, what are your #RelationshipGoals? Share below!