The Secrets to Staying Together for 40 Years

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You have to believe we are magic
 Nothin’ can stand in our way
 You have to believe we are magic
 Don’t let your aim ever stray
 And if all your hopes survive
 Your destiny will arrive
 I’ll bring all your dreams alive
 For you
 I’ll bring all your dreams alive
 For you — Olivia Newton-John, Magic

Songwriters: JOHN FARRAR, Magic lyrics © John Farrar Music

Follow the Pink Pants

We met at work. I was an older-than-average engineering intern working for Corning Glass in Bluffton, IN. I had won a scholarship which included a summer job. Corning sent me to Bluffton to work at a glass plant. He also worked at the plant.

I wore a pair of pale pink fitted pants to work. My husband says he saw those pink pants walking ahead of him and followed the pants into work. He kept following the pants until they stopped in my work area.

I hadn’t been at the plant for two days when two ladies approached me to tell me about their supervisor. He was young, single and available. Was I married? No? Was there anything I needed?

Playing along, I said I had left my watch at home in Chicago and needed to know where the local mall was. If he could help me, it would be great. I never learned if he put them up to it. He was their supervisor.

The next hour, a handsome man sat next to me at break time.

“I hear you need a ride,” he said, “I can take you to the mall to get your watch.”

The next day, he gave me a ride to the mall in his red two-seater Fiat convertible. Olivia Newton-John was singing “ Magic.” The sun was shining; the wind was blowing in my hair; the air smelled clean as we raced along the highway.

We had dinner and launched a summer romance, agreeing that we were not looking for permanent long-term relationships. We would enjoy the summer fling, then say goodbye with no regrets.

Once I returned to Chicago, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I went back to Indiana to visit twice. Within six weeks, he took a job in Chicago and moved in with me.

Our Differing Backgrounds

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, moving in and out of the projects. His father worked for the government and owned a bowling alley.

My spouse is strong-willed and opinionated. He needed to marry someone that when he says “jump”; they say, “how high.” I am not that woman.

I enjoy being in charge. I should have married a man I could tell what to do. Nope, the man I married is untrainable. He has his own opinions, likes and dislikes that often are different (if not opposite) from mine.

He is early; I’m late. We made up a rule that whoever brought the tickets controls the leave time. We once arrived so early that the theater thought we were part of the cast and let us backstage.

I save money for special uses. He will see money in our account and hold it as if it was our mortgage arguing that such a magnificent sum should not be spent on whatever it was, I wanted. I must pry the money out of his hands.

I clean the kitchen as I cook; he does not. We discuss this disconnect all the time, sometimes in raised voices.

I hate scary movies; he loves them. He and the kids used to go to the show to watch gory horror movies while I stayed home and read alone. I considered those times heaven. Oops, did I write that out loud?

Love is Complicated

We are loners; we love being “alone together” in our home. We can’t see each other but know the other person is within reach.

I find him irresistible, and he finds me the same. From the day we met, we haven’t enjoyed being apart. It was a mutual attraction.

We are both engineers with typical engineering traits, yet we talk to each other for hours about any subject.

We make each other happy. He still looks at me with that goofy smile on his face that says he is the luckiest man ever.

One spring night we were sitting in the car, parked near a fountain, listening to the water, watching the moon peek in and out on a foggy night. It was beautiful. The smell of flowers was sweet in our nostrils. It was romantic.

My husband reached across the seat and took my hand in his. He pulled me close. He looked into my eyes and said, “What do you know about fog?”

I looked into his eyes, peaked through my lashes and said, “Fog is a cloud near the ground.” He smiled at me and told me about the various droplet sizes in fog.

We take care of each other first before we take worry about anyone or anything else.

Children

One reason couples break up is their differing parenting skills. I had two children when he met and married me. I was a package deal.

We never disagreed about the kids. Our goal was to raise decent human beings, not too hard, not too soft but just right to fit into the world. We agreed that if we did our job well, the little angles would head off to college, become independent, and never return to live with us.

The aim of making our kids’ independent people by the time they graduated from a four-year university made any discussion about the kids much easier. (We were successful, both children went out of town for school and have never lived with us again.)

Maintaining a 40-year relationship

The key is respect and love. We show respect for each other. We love each other.

Neither of us expects to change the other.

We will disagree, so we listen carefully to each other.

We discuss our family objectives with the agreement that either of us can veto purchases over one thousand dollars. This results in “horse trading”. We negotiate compromises. Horse trading is good for our marriage.

We control our communication. We are flexible and forgiving with each other. I know I can make my husband madder than anyone else in the world. So, I don’t. He takes the same care with me.

We never say or do anything which could be fatal to our relationship.

We never threaten to leave.

We always kiss when we part, going to work, out for an event. You are not assured you will see each other again. If anything happened, we want to be certain we got one last kiss.

We find each other irresistible. We work hard to keep the home fires burning.

We plan to stay together. We remind each other of this commitment no matter how rocky it gets.

Finally, After 40 years

Neither of us ever expected or expects the other to change.

Working through our daily disagreements is a normal part of our relationship.

His differences have made my life delicious and exciting. I love him; he loves me. We work hard to stay together.

I’m looking forward to another forty years. Magic remains our song.

“You have to believe we are magic
 Nothin’ can stand in our way
 — — -Olivia Newton-John, Magic

Songwriters: JOHN FARRAR Magic lyrics © John Farrar Music

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