My parents have been married for over 65 years. I am blessed to have a model of marriage that has stood the test of time. Now 84 and 87 I am witness to the core of what makes a marriage last. My parents know their time together is coming to an end. My dad kisses my mother goodbye even if he is just leaving for a few minutes. She is still slightly jealous of female friends who bring in a meal made more for my dad’s dietary needs than hers. He tears up as we drive past the dinner theater where they loved to enjoy a night out together. By the time I was in high school, more of my friend’s parents were divorced than married. Friends always remarked what a cute couple my parents were. They held hands, they looked into each other’s eyes when they spoke, they put each other first no matter what was going on around them. I know life and marriage were not always easy for them, certainly it is not easy now as one spouse watches the other slowly fade away, so it is not just mushy emotions that have secured the bonds of marriage.
It is a commitment they made to one another. It is a decision to stand firm in that commitment even when it is no longer fun, or romantic or exciting. It is holding on to that commitment when there seems to be nothing left of the marriage but the commitment. It is knowing that as they near the end of life, that commitment has ultimately created an everlasting bond of deep love.
An intimate marriage takes work. To still be attracted to each other when you are in your 80's means you have kept the focus on each other and remained intentional about the relationship all along the way. Focus does not have to mean you spend hours reading books on marriage, although it is good to read one or more books on marriage a year, it means doing something daily to focus on each other.
Try this. It only takes 15 minutes to change, grow and strengthen your marriage.
Formula for Intimacy
15 minutes per day
To connect emotionally: look into each other's eyes (which raises the oxytocin: trust hormone); share a positive thought or feeling and an affirmation to each other.
To connect spiritually: share an inspirational reading and prayer.
To connect physically: hug for 20 seconds (raises the oxytocin: trust hormone); kiss passionately for 5-30 seconds without leading to sex (raises the dopamine: passion hormone).
(Penner & Penner, www.passionatecommitment.com)