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Yes, Virginia, There Is Such a Thing as a Happy Marriage


Between the high divorce rate and the couples who don't bother to make it legal, marriage doesn't have a very good reputation these days. Which is why it's nice to start the New Year with a letter from Gretchen who tells her tale of a truly happy marriage ...

"My husband and I have been married for almost 40 years, and although we've had some very tough times, we weathered the storms and are enjoying the best time of our lives. We married when I was 18 and he was 20, just before he went into the army. I doubt that anyone at our wedding gave us much of a chance. That first year, I waited every day for the mailman to bring me a letter. I would touch something my husband had touched while I read his words of love.

"He returned home at 4 a.m. one day. I can still remember rushing into his arms. He swung me around and gave me the biggest kiss. We had our first child 9 1/2 months after he came home, our second 18 months later, and our last one two years after that.

"He worked full time at IBM and went to school at night full time to obtain his degree. He started at the bottom of the corporate ladder and retired after 36 years pretty much near the top. All three children are college graduates and contributing members of society, all married and each with two children of their own.

"We didn't have a lot when they were growing up, but we did have a lot of love! I never thought we were struggling, even though we were.

I was just always happy to have my husband near me.

"Even though I struggled with many illnesses due to difficult pregnancies, including post-partum depression, we grew stronger and deeper in love. My husband is my best friend, and I can't imagine anyone I would rather be with. We still have so much fun when we're together, and we do laugh a lot!

"We don't have a lot of common interests (I love to gamble, and he doesn't; he loves sports, and I just tolerate them, etc.), but we love and respect each other enough to compromise. He'll come to the casino with me and hang out, and I go to sporting events with him and hang out.

"Whoever said marriage is a 50-50 proposition got it all wrong. Sometimes one partner needs 100 percent and the other has to give it. So many young marriages fail today, and I'm always so sad when I hear that a couple married only a couple of years are splitting up. They haven't even begun to know what a marriage is. A real marriage begins after the first heat of passion fades, and becomes something deeper and so much more meaningful.

"I believe the secrets to a long and successful marriage are compromise, communication, friendship, laughter, love and, of course, passion. To say, after almost 40 years of marriage, that I'm more in love with my husband now than the day we were married says a lot. Each day is a gift, and now that we have more days behind us than we have in front of us, each day is sweeter than the one before."

Did planning your wedding almost ruin your relationship? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to And check out my new ebook, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."



4 Comments | Post Comment
I've been married more than 30 yearss --happily-- and I always want to throw up a little in my mouth when I read a smug letter like this -- sorry.

Because while marriage does take all that she says, it also takes a fair amount of luck. They've doubtless had their share of hardships... but mental illness? Prolonged joblessness? Death of a child? Catastrophic illness not covered by insurance?
How fortunate that the gambling she "loves" never developed into an addiction!

Eh, I'm just feeling curmudgeonly today, maybe -- but when I see someone bending their arm out of shape by patting themselves on the back that hard it just brings out the grinch in me.
Comment: #1
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:03 AM
This give us people that have had failed marriages hope. If you do not have hope, then you have nothing! Great work on your marriage!! Many happy years more!! Hedgehog, I have had 2/3 of the things you mentioned in my life, you have to have hope and faith!
Comment: #2
Posted by: SUNRISE
Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:47 AM
I'm with hedgehog on this one. This couple does seem to have been born under a lucky star, altho she doesn't acknowledge it. So many of the soldiers who come back from a war are horribly wounded, mentally and/or physically. Their rehab involves a lot more than just studying and working hard. I actually don't know any soldiers who came back with the same personality they had when they left, although I'm sure there are some exceptions out there.

No reason to be sad when a couple divorces after a couple of years. You never know what's going on inside somebody else's marriage, and I always give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're doing.

I also see her "love" of gambling as a red flag she may be in denial about. It's designed to look like harmless entertainment, but it isn't. She needs to find some other form of recreation.

Comment: #3
Posted by: Madelyn
Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:03 PM
Hope and faith help.

Also humility -- you have to recognize that you cannot control your partner. Influence -- yes you may be able to influence him or her. But if he or she is "broken" on some fundamental issue and doesn't want to change, you cannot fix him or her on your own. Your marriage depends quite a bit on the person you chose at age...16? 19? 21? 35? to be with you for the rest of your life.

Some marriages are thrown more than their fair share of heartache, ache so deep that while "long" marriage may remain if both parties dislike divorce on principle the "success" may go out of their marriage. UNLESS they are willing to seek out help to get though the hardship. That's what I think LW is not acknowledging -- that they were SO fortunate that their marriage did not have to work past illness or death of one of their children, for instance, or through bankruptcy or early-onset dementia.

I'm not saying they didn't work hard -- the daily ups and downs of marriage are indeed challenging. But they weren't pushed to the wall as so many couples are by events that were beyond their control, and I'd have been much sunnier about this letter if she'd acknowledged that it wasn't ALL about the choices they made but at least partly about how fortunate they've been.
Comment: #4
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:24 PM
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