Secrets to longevity in a marriage

By Elisa Tremblay | Special to The Compass | August 22, 2018

As a fan of morning news programs, I grew up watching Willard Scott (retired NBC weatherman) ask centenarians on their 100th birthday what their secret to longevity was. I really enjoyed hearing the variety of responses: exercise, staying active, maintaining a healthy spiritual life, eating junk food, regretting nothing, and telling a joke a day. All of these great tips and responses helped the audience wrap their minds around the lasting effects of the small things we do each day. How does this apply to marriage?

On Sunday, Aug. 5, I had the beautiful privilege of attending the Jubilee Mass for couples Celebrating their 50th Anniversary of Marriage, held at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay. It was one of many diocesan 150th Jubilee celebrations taking place this year. At this liturgy, 19 couples celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries surrounded by their friends and family. Also present were couples celebrating other significant marriage anniversaries. As I witnessed all of the couples renewing their commitment to each other, I wondered what some of the secrets are to longevity in marriage.

In answer to my own question, and perhaps yours as well, I will share some collective wisdoms from articles and blogs I discovered about this topic.

Prevention magazine published “8 Things People Married for 50 Years Do.” The author, Kate Bayless, cites many great tips, including: don’t stop flirting, know how to fight and don’t get stuck in a rut. She says these couples learn how to become a team without compromising each other’s individuality. Two points that stood out to me were kindness and communication. Bayless cited that one of the greatest predictors of success in marriage is kindness to one another. Even small things done with great kindness can have a lasting impact. The same is true for communication. The article states that couples who have been married for 50 years find ways to communicate, even if they don’t feel like it at the time. In fact, almost any article on marriage longevity cites healthy communication between couples as the key to success.

Similarly, The Boston Globe reported, “Married For at Least 50 Years, What’s Their Secret?” This was an event attended by 75 couples, all of whom were married for over 50 years. The biggest question was, “What is the secret to longevity?” The Globe reported the number one answer was laughter. They found ways to make each other laugh and used humor as a gentle way to deal with struggles inevitable in a marriage. Working as a team and mutual respect were also common responses. In this article, one couple stated, with a lot of laughter: “First off, purchase a big house so you can get your space from each other.” But despite the role of humor, The Globe reported that the formula for success really was simple – mutual love and respect.

Finally, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, for yourmarriage.org, wrote: “Honoring 50 Years of Marriage.” In this article, they quote Fr. Chester Snyder, Diocese of Harrisburg, Penn.: “You are beautiful not because you are perfect. You are beautiful because despite your imperfections, you have chosen to love each other, each day for 50 years.” Fr. Snyder also remarks that married couples can truly represent the love that God has for each of us. That is, that married love is faithful, ever-present and life-giving.

Marriage is a living sacrament. It is a visible sign of the invisible reality of God’s love. Even in the trials and sacrifices encompassing many married couples, it is the long-lasting and enduring love for each other that is an incredible witness to the world.

May God continually bless all couples within our diocese, especially those celebrating 50th wedding anniversaries this year. To honor a significant anniversary with a diocesan certificate signed by Bishop David Ricken, contact the Office of Marriage, Family Life and Pro-Life. Information can be found at: www.gbdioc.org/office-of-marriage-family-life-and-pro-life/marriage-family-life/wedding-anniversaries.

Tremblay is coordinator of the diocesan Office of Marriage, Family Life and Pro-Life.

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