Who better to give marriage advice than a woman who has been married for 73 years? 94 year old Barbara Cooper knows exactly how her marriage lasted so long, and wrote a book about it. Entitled “Fall in Love for Life”, Barbara shares her hard-earned wisdom on how to make a marriage work and last.
Secret #1: Make time to be intimate. Often times people feel too tired or too busy to spend intimate time together. Many times, it’s just people’s priorities being out of whack. Barbara says “ If you wish to stay connected and happy in your marriage, my advice to you is to never be too tired or too busy to feel love for your partner. When your life is nearly over, you will regret it if you look back and recall too many nights when you made excuses instead of making love.”
Secret #2: Think before you speak. Sometimes when couples are bickering, it can escalate, leading to anger and harsh words. Sometimes just stopping and acknowledging your feelings can help change the course of the argument. Says Barbara, “Try saying something conciliatory like, ‘I don’t know why this is making me so upset, but it is, so can you just humor me and help me get over it?’ By simply admitting you are losing your cool, you may find that the anger quickly dissipates.”
Secret #3: Greet your partner with love daily. Barbara’s sound advice on this secret says it all. “When your sweetheart comes into the room, whether it’s just from taking care of some chores in the garage or from a long day at work, your job is to put down whatever you’re doing, look him in the eye, and verbally express your delight at seeing him again. It’s really so little to ask, and delivers so much — to both of you.”
Secret #4: Quit making excuses to have an affair. Many people end up having affairs because their needs aren’t being met by their spouse. Perhaps they feel like they don’t get enough attention, sex or time from their spouse. Barbara offers some fresh, though-provoking words in regards to those excuses. “Well, whoever told them that one person could meet their every need? You can actually live quite comfortably without having all of your needs met. Try thinking about it that way; you might be surprised how liberating it is. You are not perfect, and neither is your partner, but you can make a very pleasant life together if you are both serious about providing the love and support that go along with a marriage.”
Secret #5: Romance shouldn’t end with the arrival of parenthood. Many parents, especially new parents, don’t have much time for romance, and rightly so! However, Barbara says is quality not quantity that matters, and that creativity goes a long ways! “…when the baby is napping, throw a blanket on the living room floor, slice some peaches or plums or whatever you have in the house, pour a glass of something bubbly, and enjoy a mini picnic. Write love notes to each other and slip them in between the clean diapers.”
Secret #6: Be truthful when it comes to money. Money is always a hot issue in marriage…that’s why it’s usually at the top of the list when it comes to reasons couples divorce. Barbara is adamant about being truthful in regards to your money situation and not keeping financial secrets from your partner. Says she, “Doesn’t that sound scary? I am sure it does, but as with so many unpleasant things that only get bigger and stronger in the dark, these secrets have a funny way of shrinking in the light of the truth. And as they get smaller, your stress and worry will fly away. There’s never a better time to be honest with your partner and yourself and make a plan for dealing with your debts and your excess spending — together. I promise, you will not regret it.”
Secret #7: Don’t take your partner for granted. Many peoples don’t even realize they are taking their partner for granted! It’s something that just kind of slowly develops over time, if you’re not careful. Barbara says, “I think the place where good marriages break down is when one or both parties begin to take the other person for granted. And yet it’s understandable that this happens. Life is complicated and can be exhausting, so there is always a temptation when you get home to just tune out…” Stay present for your spouse and don’t let life disengage you from them!
Secret #8: Leave the past in the past. You know how it goes – during a particularly heated argument, either you or your spouse brings up an issue from the past to be rehashed. And that typically always leads to an even larger fight. Barbara says just don’t do it. “The most important lesson I can teach you from our happy marriage is that we did not rehash. If something was unpleasant, we got through it, handled the fallout, and did not bring it up again in happy times. So we both knew that once a problem was solved, that was it — we would not have to answer for it again, at least not in its current form.”
Secret #9: Control your anger. It’s so easy to say things we don’t mean during the heat of an argument. Usually people who do this end up regretting it – either immediately or when they cool down. We can’t take our words back, and apologies only go so far. So, it’s wise to find a way to get your anger under control so you don’t say something you’ll regret later. Here’s how Barbara handles those moments. “For myself, I simply run through my mind a short movie of how foolishly I have been acting. You may have better luck singing a silly song, or patting your head while rubbing your tummy, or doing whatever little trick helps bring you outside of yourself long enough to regain control”.
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