People often ask me what it’s like to be married for 30 years. They want to know the secret to having a relationship that endures for that long. Let me rephrase that— they want to know what the secret is to having a relationship that not only endures the 30 years, but one where both partners are actually still happy. Well, I’m here to give you one of the keys to relationship longevity. But first, let me share a story that happened the other day.
An old friend of my husband’s was visiting Cincinnati during the holidays. He stopped by to say hello since we hadn’t seen each other for quite some time. We got caught up discussing family and friends and before we knew it, it was time for him to leave. As he stood in the front of the house to say goodbye, he took a long look into the living room. He stared in there for a moment, and then said, “I can’t believe that she let you do that to the room”. I looked in the living room to see what he was talking about.
You see, my husband has transformed our living room into a music room. He’s purchased massive speakers that I guess you could say, “stand out”. In addition to this, he’s placed huge obvious squares on the ceiling that are supposed to improve the quality of the sound. He’s moved furniture around to increase the optimal sound for his music listening. The living room looks vastly different than it did when I first decorated. However, it does look better than the day he rented a drywall hoist to put the huge squares on the ceiling. When I walked in my house that day, I thought he had lost his mind.
My ability to not even remember that the living room looks a bit different is why we stay happily married. Here’s how my brain works— I assess the situation at hand (my husband has transformed the living room) and I question whether I should truly be upset over this. This is what I’m thinking when confronted with this information:
1. Wow, that room looks ridiculous!
2. Hmmm…I see this makes him really happy.
3. How does the ridiculous room set-up impact my life?
4. Does the negative impact outweigh the pleasure it is giving him?
5. Oh well then, who cares.
And then, I let it go forever, and go on to something else.
I suppose this wouldn’t work in our relationship if he didn’t appreciate what I do for him. If he took it for granted, it probably would change my response next time. But that’s not the case— he’s so grateful that I allow him to enjoy his passion in life that I reap the benefits for my attitude over and over again.
The big secret to relationship happiness is picking your battles. Let the small stuff go so you can enjoy the relationship. Yes, I realize it’s sometimes hard to just “let it go”. It’s easier said than done. It might help if you tried to keep this in mind:
In the long run, you probably have a whole lot more to gain than lose.