Your happy marriage will be unique, but there's no harm in embarking on your marital journey fortified with wisdom from women who've married, raised kids, reconnected in empty nests, and are still going strong!
1. "A healthy marriage takes a lot of hard work with a commitment to love and genuinely care for your spouse. A good balancing act of give and take is essential. Life throws all kinds of challenges, and there will always be ups and downs. There is no perfection. Learning how to communicate openly and honestly can be helpful in understanding each other. Always search for the clarity in what made you first fall in love with each other. I believe that kindness trumps all. And, for the sake of peace, you often have to just let it go!" —Linda, married 33 years
2. "What matters is the willingness to work on a marriage because there are always things that will need hard work … to learn how to fight fair, and to open up and let in the changes that will occur if it will endure. I've learned two things: you will be transformed, and you will be tested."—Jill, married 38 years
3. "You'll need lots of patience and a sense of humor. Communication is key. You can't bottle things up or get too sensitive when working through issues. Address disagreements openly as they come up; it doesn't mean you don't love each other anymore if you have a big disagreement. "—Melanie, married 38 years
4. "Like learning to ride a bicycle, you will make mistakes during your first years of marriage because it's challenging to attain a good equilibrium. Take your spouse's concerns seriously, learn to laugh at your own missteps, remember that your decisions affect your spouse, and don't neglect your own friendships and interests."—Liliana, married 42 years
5. "Your spouse will not complete you. We each need to complete ourselves. When you get into 'I'd be happy if only he/she would' territory, back out of that place and figure out what you yourself might do differently. Continue to be empathic to your spouse's wants, even if you are unable to fulfill a particular need. Your spouse can be the best friend you will ever have, but to have a friend, you must be a friend. Respect and honesty are the cornerstones of this wonderful friendship. Be determined to stay for the long haul, even during the tough times. And don't forget to have fun! Giggles will be remembered for a long time." —Barbara, married 41 years
6. "Find someone who loves you for who you are, who understands you. Above all, it's important that you both have lots of tolerance because there will be lots of hiccups along the way. A sense of humor is also very important."—Mary, married 59 years