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Secrets of Half-Century Marriages

C.B. Lieber

Couples whose marriages have spanned five decades and beyond have much wisdom to share about the process - of building a relationship and growing older together

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

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“It’s a matter of respect and teamwork. You’ll hit life challenges, and if you don’t have respect for your partner, the marriage can fall apart. A marriage is a contract. Someone has to give in sometimes, or else you’re always at odds and disagreeing with each other. And of course, it’s a mazal and brachah to have a healthy spouse and children”


uilding a Bond

“A long marriage in years doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a happy one. We married at a time when divorce wasn’t common, and we didn’t see divorce as a realistic option unless there was no other alternative. So there have been good times and difficult times.

“Since we were both busy with our professions in the early years, and I was running the house and had the bulk of the responsibility for the children, it was easy to lose track of each other. I made a point of trying to find things that we would enjoy doing together and finding the time to do them. It wasn’t easy, but I was successful some of the time.

“For many young couples today, where the husband may be in kollel or working and the wife is working as well, it’s hard to find ‘together’ time. But it’s crucial. I have a magnet on my refrigerator: Marriages come in kits and you have to put them together. A relationship takes work and needs attention in order to thrive; it doesn’t just happen by itself.”

—Annie F., married 58 years 

“I didn’t want to run to my mother with every little thing. We kept our problems within ourselves, and we always presented a united front to the children.”

—Faygie L., married 51 years

“The most important thing is to work on some goal together. We were teaching all the years, and my husband would help me with all my lesson plans. That was something that kept us involved in each other’s lives. A sense of humor is also very important, to keep things on an even keel.” 

—Eva H., married 64 years


“It’s not necessary to be together night and day. I respect his friends and his activities, and he respects mine”

“When the children were young, we always had a full table on Shabbos. We both enjoyed hosting, and having an open home is a big part of our bond to this day.”

—Shoshanah Zucker, married almost 67 years 

“After the kids were in bed, we’d sit at the kitchen table and talk. We couldn’t afford babysitters very often, and life was busy, so we really had to work around the situation. Sometimes we’d put the kids in the car and go for a drive. They’d sleep in the back, and we’d talk and laugh. I feel there’s a lot more expected of young mothers today than there was back then.”

—Bracha S., married 54 years


Agreeing to Disagree

“I find that we have fewer disagreements as we age. Neither of us feels a need to prove that our individual point of view is correct. Most of the time we find some middle ground, and we’re more accepting of each other’s flaws and shortcomings. “There are a few things I’d like to do over, but I can’t. For example, I wish I had been less critical and more patient with my husband and the children when I was younger. But you can’t go back, you can only go forward.”

—Chaya T., married 54 years

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 558)

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