February 3, 2012
“Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.” - Henry Ward Beecher
GAITHERSBURG, Md. - That’s all well and good, but Duane McKenna doesn’t know much about love’s unquenchable flame. He says, “The reason we’ve been married 61years is that we’ve got good genes, so neither one of us has died yet!”
Clearly, humor plays a large part in maintaining a long-lasting marriage. But there are other qualities some of these seniors – who have been married anywhere from 60 to 73 years – credit for their success.
In an era when one in two marriages ends in divorce, and many don’t even bother to tie the knot, residents at senior-living communities Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md., and Asbury~Solomons Island, Solomons, Md., have some practical yet inspirational insights for creating a partnership that will weather the storms that so many contemporary relationships don’t. A Top 10 List is currently being shared on the communities’ Facebook pages at http://www.facebook.com/asburymethodistvillage and http://www.facebook.com/asburysolomons.
For instance, McKenna, an illustrator, shows his wife how much he values her cheerful disposition by making her a Valentine each year that focuses on one of the year’s highlights. She has kept every one. Last year, he tried something different, making a giant heart in the snow with his footprints below their 6th floor apartment. Says McKenna’s wife, Liz, “It is kind of romantic being married to an artist, but what I value most is his kindness. He always praises my dinners, even though sometimes they’re lousy!”
John Eberhard – an architect with a romantic flair – has been married to his wife, Lois, for 60 years. For their 50th anniversary, he designed a stained glass window that now divides their living/dining room. Based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Tree of Life, the design symbolizes their life together and their four children.
Lois says he’s romantic and not afraid to show his emotions. She views herself as “very stoic. I can put up with the hardships and challenges. I think stoicism helps a marriage.” They both think major social changes have made marriage a bit tougher these days. “It’s so easy to think about getting a divorce when things are hard because so many others have done it,” said John. “When we were married, we didn’t know 16 other friends who had gotten divorced. Adds Lois, “We also put up with being poor a lot better than you all do these days.” Because young people started out with so little and the economy was booming following World War II, it was easy to assume that things would always get better – and they did, Lois explained.
The top 10 tips for lasting love and a long-lasting marriage shared by these and other seniors in Asbury Communities include the following:
1. Look at marriage as the beginning of a lifetime of enjoyment, rather than being tied down to the same person for the rest of your life.
2. Always respect the other person and treat them the way you would like to be treated.
3. Don’t take each other for granted.
4. Be patient with your partner – and remember that marriage takes hard work.
5. Trust and appreciate your partner. Find ways to show that appreciation, even in the smallest ways.
6. Talk out your disagreements. Look at both sides of the problem. And sometimes just take a breather and walk away until the argument has calmed down. There isn’t as much emotion then, and you can work together for a solution.
7. Have a sense of forgiveness.
8. Each partner should have hobbies and interests of their own, but they should have things they enjoy doing together, even if it means taking up a new interest such as golf or bowling or dancing.
9. Understand and agree upon your roles in the marriage. One may work and the other stay home to raise children; and maybe someday that person at home may want to pursue their own career.
10. Have fun! Remember what you loved about each other when you were dating.
Asbury Methodist Village is a CARF-CCAC and EAGLE-accredited continuing care retirement community that is part of Asbury Communities, Inc., which provides management and support services for a system of continuing care retirement communities for older adults. Asbury Communities is ranked Leading Age and Ziegler Capital Markets Group’s AZ 100 as the 15th largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living organization in the country. Asbury Methodist Village is also a member of LifeSpan Network.