Sunday, January 4, 2009

What Makes a Successful Marriage?

My Dad (Gordon) is having a birthday in a couple of weeks. My Mom (Carolyn) is 6 months older. They have an interesting "tradition." When Mom turns a year older in June, Dad thinks of himself as her age as well. He rounds up. Mother does the opposite. She doesn't think of herself as any older until Dad turns that age. She rounds down. So I guess on January 19 of this year, they'll both be 91.

They've been married 68 years. I asked them the secret of a successful marriage, and I was curious to see if their answers would be radically different. They are opposite Myers-Briggs types. Mother is an ENFP and Dad an ISTJ.

Dad enjoys writing, so he sent his answer by e-mail.

Sharry: With respect to your question about successful marriage I would say the most important thing is to share a similar set of basic values - the values that are most important to you. This still leaves plenty of room for differences in personal interests that are outside of one's core values and beliefs. However, to make this work requires a strong measure of self-confidence on the part of both partners. This leads to a mutual respect for each other's differences in interests and personality traits.

With basic values similar and a generous amount of tolerance existing, each can live his/her life with support and encouragement from the other.

Of course, there are certain people around who should be avoided as marriage partners because of some psychological imbalance. One should recognize these and steer clear of them.

Marriage involves "give and take". Each partner may have to give up a few things in order to take advantage of the good qualities of the other. I have not mentioned "love", but it is one of the basics referred to above.

Remember, I am not a psychologist.
- Love, Dad.

Mother finds it easier to talk about what she thinks and have someone else transcribe. Which I did.

I feel that having the same goals is more important than your personality. Neither one of us wanted fame or fortune.We did want a good living, which means to me, having enough.
We wanted good things for our children.
We've been involved in civic and church organizations which requires
discipline and cooperating with others.
It's important to work through things, the rough spots and differences, rather than just say, "Oh well."
I think it's good to have some life experience before you get married. I lived on my own and worked first.
Gordon and I are opposites astrologically. He is a Capricorn and I'm a Leo. We were a good match because I could dream things up, and he would make them happen.

Writing this brought tears to my eyes. I'm so lucky to have had such good parents and to have them still. I've got a nice photo from my visit with them in September, but instead, I decided to post my favorite one. It's from a few years back, but they still look at each other through loving eyes.