A few weeks ago my wife Linda and I were celebrating the 50th anniversary of our first meeting. I discussed some of the things I have learned about being a good husband. Now I want to look forward to our next fifty years together and explore ways we can continue to improve our marriage with the hope that I might just get to be the perfect husband by the time we hit our 100th anniversary in 2066. I have said for a long time that if your marriage is not getting better, it is getting worse. Marriage takes work and attention. The minute you take your marriage for granted you will find new problems you never knew existed.
I have come up with a short list of items that I need to work on to improve my 50 year old marriage. First, I need to do more things with my wife Linda. I am a couch potato, sports junkie, cable news addict. I can sit in front of the TV with my iPhone, iPad, and Wall Street Journal and stay there all day watching CNN, Fox News, occasionally MSNBC and sports. Linda can work an eight-hour day before noon and then shop for food, visit a friend, take a hike and go to the gym before dinner. So I have to push myself to do more things outside the house with her. I need to go to more concerts and museums and be willing to travel more. I need to clean up more around the house. Women and men often have very different ideas about what is clean. My theory about clothes is that if you can’t see the dirt, you can’t smell it. I think that dishes stacked up in the sink and out of the way count as clean. Linda doesn’t agree. The problem is that I know she is right, so I need to upgrade my cleaning.
I used to get frustrated, often over issues at work, and bring them home where I would occasionally yell. I haven’t done that for awhile and I need to make sure to remember that I can’t even yell at the dogs. A family can never quite relax when there is a yeller at home.
As we get older, we all have more physical problems. I need to make sure that I am very attentive to my wife when she gets sick, or has pain or just a ton of anxiety. Aging makes us all need a little more nursing and affection.
We all need to feel appreciated. I need to make sure to let my wife know how much I appreciate her cooking, her writing, and her great looks. We must work to let our spouses know how much we value them.
I have my share of physical issues from arthritis to diabetes. Unfortunately these problems only get worse as we age. And if you ever eavesdrop on a bunch of old-timers chatting over an early-bird special in Florida, you would be struck at how much time the elderly spend talking about their health, or the health of friends and family. I need to reduce the amount of time I spend complaining about my health, do what I can to keep healthy, and then let it go.
Finally, as we retire, we start to care less and less about how we present ourselves to the world. Wearing a sports jacket and tie occasionally wouldn’t kill me. And if it makes my wife happy? Really, what’s the big deal?
I need to encourage my wife to think of our future as a time full of travel, enjoying grandchildren, visiting museums and concerts. I need her to know that I will be there for her when she has her own physical problems. If I can begin to do these things right now, then by our 100th anniversary maybe I will have got it just about right.