With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

One of the many lessons Pam and Larry have learned in their 36 years of marriage? “How differently we react and respond to most things,” says Pam. “I remember after the birth of our first baby, every young mom on our maternity floor received beautiful flowers. I too desired that my husband go out and purchase a dozen or so red roses for my bedside – after all I had just delivered him this beautiful brand new baby boy! Well, much to my dismay, he comes skipping into my room the next day with a house plant.”

Larry thought the houseplant was more practical than flowers, but Pam wasn’t looking for practical. Pam explains she learned a lot from that experience about the need to communicate. “Your partner cannot read your mind,” she says. Larry echoes this with another lesson he might have learned the hard way: “Never, I repeat never, buy her a kitchen appliance for an anniversary or birthday.”

Joking aside, Pam and Larry have worked hard to make their marriage work over the years. They instituted a weekly date night each Friday and found it helped them sustain their relationship while their kids were young. Pam explains, “It was our chance to reconnect as a couple without children or distractions.” They kept the date night so sacred that friends and family knew not to bother inviting them anywhere on a Friday evening!

Now that Larry and Pam work together producing weddings and events, they’ve had to learn new lessons. Larry says, “We were about ready to kill each other after about two years because we each wanted to be in charge and tell the other what to do. It was a very trying time in our relationship. We had to sit down and evaluate what our strengths were and let each of us put them to use in the business.”

Pam and Larry have scaled the steep learning curve of owning a business together. Pam sums it up, “We now allow each other to fulfill the side of our business where we shine. We don’t walk over each other but hand in hand, supporting each other all the way. It’s the most wonderful adventure we have been on.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

Donna and Jim both grew up on farms in the same small town in Alberta, Canada, each the oldest child in large families. After dating for three years, Donna and Jim got married in 1972, when they were both studying education in college. Donna was 19 and Jim was 20. Donna says, “We were young when we got married so we grew up together.” But, she explains, “We both had large extended families and felt their love and support, so we never felt that we were alone on this new venture of marriage.”

Donna shares a clever trick she has used throughout forty years of marriage: “Whenever I feel that a disagreement may be brewing, I ask myself to imagine that I am only allowed a limited number of disagreements throughout our marriage. I then ask myself if this situation is worth using one of them up. Usually not!”

Jim and Donna liken two people in a marriage to two sides of the same coin, “One is heads, the other is tails,” they say. Together “you are one, yet you have your own interests and identity.” In their shared interests, Jim and Donna have tried to remember to plan dates together thoughout their marriage. They waited ten years before having children, and then found it took a lot of teamwork to coordinate childcare and busy schedules as working teachers. Now that they are retired, Jim and Donna find it easier to make time for even more dates: they go dancing every week and like to take long walks together. According to Donna’s pedometer, they’ve logged more than 20 million steps in just the last few years!

And in addition to keeping their marriage strong, those steps have paid off in another way. For their fortieth wedding anniversary, the couple threw a party and decided to give their guests a fashion show – wearing their original wedding suit and gown! After forty years and millions of steps, they still look dapper as ever.

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
9 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

When Margery was a senior in high school, she worked in the camera department of a Missouri drugstore. Gary, a police officer at the time, stopped in one day and kept coming back. He claimed he was “shopping for a camera,” but soon he worked up the courage to ask Margery for a date.

Margery ended her senior year with a whirlwind month: In May, 1958, she turned 18 on the 2nd, graduated from high school on the 18th, and got married on the 24th. Their  wedding photographer worked at a local newspaper, and they paid him $20 for their 11 black and white photos. Says Gary, “It’s the best twenty dollars I ever spent.”

Two years after they were married, Gary joined the military and the couple moved from a small town in Missouri to Camp Pendleton in California. Away from home and family for the first time, Margery and Gary learned to depend on each other. And they continued to depend on each other through many months apart, when Gary served three tours in Vietnam. Margery said that though she and Gary only spoke once or twice on the phone during that time, “He wrote every day.” Gary explains it was simply “Because I missed her.”

He missed her so much that he remembers the moment in 1964 when he returned from a thirteen month tour in Okinawa and finally saw Margery. He recalls the vivid memory of meeting and embracing on a street corner and says, “She would not let me go.”

Once the couple was back together again, Margery said the hardest adjustment was getting used to making decisions as a team again. For so long, she made decisions for the family and “gave the kids their orders.” But with time, they began making those decisions together again.

Fifty-four years later, Margery and Gary now spend most of their time together, taking long cross-country trips in their RV and visiting their grandkids and great-grandkids. Gary’s piece of advice for newlyweds? “Try to say I love you every night.”

Photo by Sonya Yruel.

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
35 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

Benny and Nita both grew up in the Philippines and met at a conference when they were in college. Nita attended because it was an opportunity to go on her first plane ride; Benny was looking for a smart woman to marry. After a weekend of first dances, gifts of fried bananas, and both playing a little hard to get, they were hooked.

On asking Nita to marry him, Benny says, “I didn’t ask her. I told her. I said, Nita, we will get married.” His daughters recently asked him, “Why didn’t you get down on one knee and ask?!” He replies, “I didn’t want to be rejected. What if she said no?”

Nita explains that since they were old enough, their decision to marry wasn’t questioned. “Even the nuns [at the school where Nita was a teacher] believed that whatever decision we made was the best decision for us. They trusted we knew what was right.” She says she wasn’t given any advice before they were married, mostly due to Filipino customs: “Marriage was so sacred that people didn’t discuss it in public.”

At the time of the Iran hostage crisis, Benny and Nita decided to move their young family to Saudi Arabia, and the culture there taught the couple many lessons they keep with them after forty years of marriage. Nita recounts an evening when she wanted to see a movie, which would only be shown four times. Benny fell asleep and the couple missed the movie, for good. But Nita explains, “There have been many moments, like this one, when I was very angry. I would always tell him later what upset me, but it’s not worth discussing it in the heat of the moment. I don’t want to fight about petty things. I know he loves me, and it’s remembering that love, which makes finding patience easy.”

Beyond just missing movies, Benny and Nita try to work through challenges together. Benny credits Nita: “With whatever I did, Nita always just said, You can do it. When I made mistakes driving around [our new neighborhood], Nita would say, Why don’t we go back to this spot, and we would go back to some place I knew, and I’d eventually find my way around the city. It’s a good analogy for my life with her: I have the courage to discover and to try because she has always been there, behind me. Her support is everything to me.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
6 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Snapshots

With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage.

Andy and Betsey met in high school, when he was seventeen and she was only fourteen – Andy remembers that day: “The first time I saw her, I fell in love.” (Andy says he also remembers the day his high school age kids worked out the age of their parents when they met. Their reaction? “That’s gross!”)

Despite such a romantic start, they learned a few hard lessons early in their marriage. “For the first ten years of our marriage, we fought the same fight over and over again,” Andy said. “When something happened, every fight we’d ever been in became part of the conversation. You can’t resolve things that way.”

Betsey agreed, and explained that she found it a little harder to let things go. “If I ended up wrong, that was hard for me. That took a long time to get over.” The couple slowly came up with a system where they would both try to get to the root of an argument in order to move forward. Now, Andy says, “We don’t rehash old battles anymore.”

Andy says people often remark to him, “You sure talk about your wife a lot.” But he isn’t bashful at all. As he explains, “For twenty-seven years, I have been in dogged pursuit of her affection.” That pursuit appears to be working. Betsey looked at Andy and said simply, “I feel adored and worshipped.”

Now Andy and Betsey are passing along their advice to their own kids. When their oldest son was married last spring, they gave him one key piece of advice: “Tell each other often that you love each other.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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