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With a little bit of luck

First, to stay happily married for 60 years, you both have to live that long.

Accept and respect your mate

Second, third, fourth and fifth, you both have to learn to accept your mate for what he or she is, not what you want him or her to be. You grew up in different families, have different ways of looking at just about everything and are certainly wired differently. You each have your own opinions and ways of doing things and will continue to do so, smoothing the edges with, hopefully, some modification and deference. Keep an open mind. When something your mate does causes you to become frustrated or angry, try to figure out his or her motives. You may find there was a good reason that you hadn’t thought of; or at least that there was some reason other than to make you upset.

Stay committed to your commitment

Even though the odds are not very good, healthy, and long-lasting relationships are definitely possible and proven by many people. Look at Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, or Nancy and Ronald Reagan. What secrets do or did they possess? The answer is that they all worked hard at their relationship. They made a decision to choose to love their mate, rather than rely on the “warm and fuzzy” feelings, which everyone knows will fade. By making love your choice, you both make and stay with a decision that even in the bad times, you stick it out.

Think of it like buying a home. You spent a lot of time selecting your home, and have signed the mortgage, probably the largest investment of your life. After you move in, you discover that there are some repairs needed, some fixtures should be replaced, the gardens need tending – a never-ending stream of tasks. It’s a lot of work and expense that you didn’t anticipate. You could try to sell the home and look for another place to live, but that is probably not going to make your life a lot easier, as you still have to find another place, sell this place, move, etc. You’re better off figuring out how to make it work. It is the same for marriage. Not everything will be perfect, and there will be major obstacles to overcome, but while the alternatives may look more appealing, they are undoubtedly full of complications as well. Having made your decision, you should stay committed to it and choose to make it work.

When faced with seemingly large problems, break the problems down into little steps to be taken every day. You’ll find that those little steps will enable you to overcome them and move on to better circumstances.

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