Snapshot of a Marriage | Jim & Donna, Married 40 Years

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.

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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 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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