On December 1st my maternal grandparents celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.
My grandmother, Daisy, married her childhood sweetheart, Michael, at the age of sixteen. Michael was eighteen, and had already immigrated to Canada from the tiny island of Malta. Shortly after getting married Daisy took a boat from Malta to New York, and the young and happy couple settled in Toronto.
My grandparents went on to have three children and have stayed in the Greater Toronto Area for the past 61 years. My mother is their only daughter and the middle child. I have always been close to my grandparents, my grandma is like a second mother and my grandfather is the closest thing I have to a father. I have lived with them throughout different periods of my life, and have cherished the special bond we have.
I called my grandparents this past week to wish them a happy anniversary, and talked to them a bit about marriage. I asked them for advice on a long-lasting marriage, and unsurprisingly received their own brand of dry wit and humour.
My grandfather, Mike, advised, “Keep each other happy.” When I asked him to clarify I bit, he replied, “Sex, sex, sex.”
My Grandmother advised, “There’s a time when you have to pretend you’re deaf.”
As much as I will treasure these responses forever, I thought I would look to some other married couples for advice. Below are just a small sample of the overwhelming response I received when I asked couples on Facebook to offer their best marriage advice.
“Read the five love languages. Realize that how you give and receive love is probably very different from your significant other's way of showing and receiving love. It helped us avoid a lot of misunderstandings and helped me understand why Paul did certain things the way he did. It also helped me communicate better with him on a daily basis and in an argument.” – Taylor Taylor, married to Paul Taylor for 2 years
“Talk about the hard stuff. Don't suppress your feelings thinking that you are protecting the other person. That never ends well.” – Rocco Rosa, married to Victoria Rosa for 22 years
“Be a student of your spouse. Learn what fuels them, what depletes them, what angers them, what causes them fear, and joy. Never stop learning - and be smart about how you relate to them & when you relate to them - timing is important.” – Chris Deeves, married to Theresa Deeves for 18 years
“Keep a sense of humor, especially during the hard times. Laughing with your spouse can get you through some of the worst parts of life and marriage.” – Heather Teeter, married to Adam Teeter for 10 years
“Anticipate that they will change, and love every change. Don't expect the same person you walked down the aisle to.” – Samantha Butler, married to John Butler for 7 years
“When kids come along, spend time without them, otherwise years can go by before you realize you've invested so much time in your kids that you've forgotten who you used to be as a couple. Your spouse will still be around (God willing) long after your kids are grown and gone! You want to continue to have fun together and learn about each other throughout your marriage.” – Kathleen Elliot, married to Rob for 20 years
“Always find ways to touch one another every day. We're tactile beings and intimacy is built on touch - and it doesn't have to be sexual. Hold hands, hug, cuddle, stroke each other.” – Anne Radcliffe, married to Bob for 18 years
“Be vulnerable, don't try to be your spouse's saviour, don't try to change them, just show them all of who you are so they can show you all of who they are.” – Daniel Bell, married to me (Brianna Bell) for 5 years
It was so fun reading all of the advice from both men and women of different ages and walks of life. I hope that I still have the health and humour of my grandparents after sixty-one years of marriage with my dear Daniel, and am lucky to have so many wonderful examples of marriage in my life.
What marriage advice would you give for a long and lasting marriage?