Jena Muhr shares seven tips for married couples from her grandparents, who married 71 years ago.
Earlier this year I was listening to a podcast of a couple giving their top tips for being a happily married couple. As I listened, I grew more and more skeptical, it didn’t have much to do with the advice that they were giving because most of it I felt was good. But my apprehension was centered in that they had been married for around nine years. In my mind, those are not the people you want to take marriage advice from. In the same way you should take financial advice from the person whose bank account you want to have, rather than the person who is always asking for a handout, I believe in taking marriage advice from those who have been at it longer than the average bear.
Enter my grandparents. Betty and Bill. They were married on August 27, 1952. That’s right. They have been married for 71 years as I am writing. Their marriage is old enough to be well-established on Medicare. And according to Marriage Enrichment for the State of California, they are the longest-married couple in the state. They have raised eight kids. They watch daily Mass on the television and attend Mass at least weekly. And they are both alive and kicking. I am very blessed to have them in my life.
Because I am always looking to improve my own beginning marriage (nearly 12 years), I FaceTimed with them and asked them what they thought about the advice that the couple on the podcast were giving. Below is a summary of how Betty and Bill feel about the topics covered on that podcast.
Speak each other’s “love language”
After I explained what this is (my grandpa’s exact words were “what the hell is that?”), they shared the importance of being there for each other and not taking the other for granted. You need to celebrate the big things together and always be there.
In the podcast, the couple talked about weekly date nights. My grandparents talked about monthly date nights because that was the amount of time that they had available. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to date more, but it was hard to find a babysitter for all eight kids. They enjoyed going out with another couple or having another couple over for dinner if a babysitter could not be found. It was good for them to have something to look forward to. This sounds reasonable to me. Although I have a fraction of the kids they do, it is hard to get out even once a month sometimes, but it is important.
In their marriage, my grandparents equated this to buying different things: making moves and purchases that were best for the family, rather than only for the individual.
Share roles and responsibilities
This topic got a laugh out of them. Betty and Bill shared that they didn’t do this while they had kids in the house. Betty took care of the house and kids, while Bill worked. As the kids grew they began to help around the house: “There were eight of them; that was a lot of hands to help.”
Always do this. Be respectful of each other and treat each other well. Always.
This one surprised me. I knew that my grandparents are not especially great at this. As a part of the Greatest Generation, it isn’t a trait that they are known for, but for Betty and Bill, this is something that they wish they were better at. I guess in my young married life I assumed that they are good at everything because they have a successful marriage (in my book at least). But I guess there is always room for improvement.
Look for the best in each other
Absolutely. Try not to focus on the negatives, like the messes that the other leaves or the little things that bug you. But rather focus on the good things about them and the reasons you loved them in the first place.
Throughout our conversation, I was amazed about how much my grandparents agreed with of the qualities brought out in the podcast. These areas seemed to be a no-brainer, engrained with time and consideration of each other. Marriage is hard, and no marriage is perfect. But we need to treat our spouses with love and respect. We need to take time for each other. We need to look for good. We need to choose each other every day.
Copyright 2023 Jena Muhr
About the Author
Jena Muhr is a born and raised Catholic from Southern California. A wife and mom to three littles. she enjoys writing, crafting, cooking, and running all the time. Jena is a supporter of mental health and is working to save the world one run at a time.