Given the glaring statistics showing that just a small minority of people stay happily married long-term(Some polls say just 17%!), what would you do when you get to know a couple in their 60's not only still married - but really happily married?
Here's what I did: I asked them, "What's your secret?" "Why are you so much at ease around each other and happy together?"
Doug and Doris gave me permission to share their answer with you. I'd never heard anyone share this important perpective before!
Here's what they told me"From the start, we realized we were marrying 3 people."
Well, Doug told me, "I married my friend. I married my partner. And I married a spouse. It takes having all 3 to really make things work."
Doug and Doris went on to share: "It's great when all 3 people show up at the same time, but sometimes when one or more go missing, the others keep you going! You just need at least one to keep you moving happily forward."
True, most of us have never been taught this, at least this clearly.... But, really, happily married couples marry three people:
They enjoy doing fun things together... laughing, sharing hobbies, working out, traveling, hanging out with other friends. They like talking and learning and discovering new things together. They may even call each other "Pal" or "Friend" or "Buddy."
And, a key word for how friends, including Doug and Doris experience life: ADVENTURE! They seize opportunities, challenges and make choices to engage the wild, the changing and experience new things. They're NOT stuck, stagnant and waiting to get old... no matter their biological age!
For many years, the picture hanging on the wall in our bathroom (Why there? No idea!) said, "Life's greatest blessing is to marry your best friend!" Totally true!
[cryout-pullquote Totally true![/cryout-pullquote]
What might you do to grow your friendship? To be on adventure together?
This is what I termed in a recent blog post "The Most Missed Key to Happy Marriage" It's this: that truly happy couples have a purpose for their marriage that's bigger than them. They have a mission for their marriage that's about doing something meaningful TOGETHER in the world.
The very reason Doug and Doris met with me was to learn how to fully discover and engage the mission of their marriage TOGETHER. After many years of working separately, they wanted to focus the next season of their lives on working together for a common cause.... they just wanted to clarify what that was.
Wow!! Imagine if more couples not only paid bills, raised kids and built a financial nest egg... but also discovered a lasting impact on the world they might achieve together??
And yes, your partnership includes those too! But, it also goes beyond your own self-interest to serve others. And that's actually where the most magic comes in!
I fully believe this element was what was intended for marriage in the first place when God looked at man and said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)... To do what? To partner together to be fruitfully productive and create a better world.
[cryout-pullquote ]Wow!! Imagine if more couples not only paid bills, raised kids and built a financial nest egg... but also discovered a lasting impact on the world they might achieve together??[/cryout-pullquote]
How might you build a marriage that changes the world for good? Together as partners??
Though one place defined "spouse" as just a fancy word for "a lot of stress" more emotionally neutral definitions of the term include that you "cohabit," "share a long-term monogamous sexual relationship," "are married."
Though often this one "person" has born the brunt of what "happily married" has going for it, (ie. romantic movies) it's certainly clear that happy marriage DO include this living together, enjoying intimate sexual relationship and the "hots" for each other.
However, the other two "people you marry" influence this one as well. And if the other two go missing, absent or go undeveloped, "spouse" will likely eventually wane and suffer.
BUT, "spouse" matters too! Like the other two roles - matters a lot!
But, even in seasons where this one is not as "incredible," the other two can sustain happiness... and increase happiness here!
How might you grow your love life?
So how do you move forward to grow... especially if one of these "people" is suffering or even missing in your marriage?
Here's something practical you can do. I created a tangible way to take a next step. (I know many of you have already downloaded and done this... but if not, try it!!)
DOWNLOAD The 12 Questions to Unlock the Mission for Your Marriage! "Use these questions a date night where you explore the even bigger vision: Why are we together?"
Here's what one couple who just did them over an anniversary dinner had to say.. "I know this might sound crazy but we probably had our best date in at least 3 years since we have had kids! " (Robert and Christie)
I really encourage you to give this a try. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.
Love to hear how it goes!
May all three of the people you married... and who married you be fully and happily alive for a long, long time!
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