what 80 years of marriage can teach us.
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what 80 years of marriage can teach us.

Published
Dec 01, 2020
Author
Caroline Eppright

Learn a thing or two from an Austin couple in their triple digits.

The current state of marriage in the U.S. can seem bleak. And thanks to Noah Baumbach, it now seems even bleaker. Given that the average marriage ending in divorce lasts just about seven years, some may ask what’s the point? Well, two people in Texas with a combined age of 211 will tell you.   

On December 15th, Austin couple John and Charlotte Henderson celebrated their 80th year of marriage. John is 106 and Charlotte is 105; it’s more of a December-December relationship, if you will. They got married during the Great Depression. Their marriage has seen the advent of television, space exploration, Beatlemania, the women’s lib movement, Watergate, Jane Fonda's workout videos, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Crystal Pepsi, the Internet, the iPhone, and Twitter.  Bernie Sanders wasn’t even alive when they tied the knot. In short, they old. 

But with their age and experience comes wisdom and useful marital advice. It should be noted that they never had children. Yes, kids can add stress and financial pressure to a relationship, but they can also break up some of the monotony of, you know, eating dinner with the same person for 80 years. The main thing they agree on, though, is that marriage is about being respectful. In John’s words, “You have to give and take as life goes by and be grateful for what you have and try to make tomorrow a better day than today, and be sure you don’t go to bed at night with a chip on your shoulder. Be aware of the other person’s feelings." While they don’t come right out and talk about their sex life, when you’re with someone that long, you’ve got to be physically compatible.  

A study found that elderly people who still have sex lead happier lives than their celibate counterparts. Other couples who’ve been married for over 50 years have similar advice that seems pretty damn simple. Here are some highlights:

Let your partner know that you’re thinking about them throughout the day. Send them a text, an email, or give them a quick call. Reaffirming your relationship even when you’re not in the same space can keep you connected. 

Be physically affectionate with one another. Sometimes just one hug or one kiss can go a long way. 

Always kiss each other goodnight. Not only is it a sweet thing to do, but kissing produces dopamine in the brain, which makes you feel happy. 

Reminisce about why you first fell in love. Talk about your first date, your first fight, your first trip – anything that brought you closer early on will help you remember why you’re still together. 

Take care of yourself. This isn’t just about appearance. This can also include working out to boost your confidence. Eating healthy foods. Going to therapy. Meditating. Being in control of your well-being is attractive to a partner.

Will all this advice ensure that your marriage or relationship will be perfect? No. Because none are. But taking steps to keep the romance alive, especially day-to-day, is never a bad idea.

what 80 years of marriage can teach us.

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