On a recent vacation my husband and I struck up a casual conversation with another couple, who we learned were “scouting” this resort as a possible venue for their 50th anniversary celebration next year. Ron and Patty were delightful. They clearly shared a language all their own, finishing each other’s sentences, and laughing at each other’s jokes.
As often occurs whenever I share with strangers that I am a couples and family counselor, the conversation turned to the topic of marriage. Rather quickly, Patty informed us that she had “almost quit” many times; that they had certainly had their fair share of trials during their marriage, and that “no one knows how to push my buttons like he does…” My husband and I didn’t doubt her as the discussion took this serious turn. However, the next thing she said, with a growing smile on her face, surprised the both of us:
“…I’ll be so mad and then Ronnie will start to tell one of his stories and I’ll listen… and then I’ll realize that I am the only one who knows how his story ends….”
My heart melted with this simple declaration. I believe we had — quite unexpectedly — been privy to the simple secret of this couple’s successful marriage. Valuing a shared history can sometimes be all you needto ride out the troubled waters. The ability to rely on a shared set of memories and life experiences helps to keep a couple connected during the inevitable hardships in a marriage.