The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 15, 2013

The secrets to a good marriage

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — What makes a good marriage? Think about it.

We have dear friends who recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. That seems like a dream to Jim and me, who have completed 43 years of wedded bliss. They are as much in love today as they were when they first married and started life together — maybe more so.

There is something to be learned from friends like them and others who have spent many years together. When two people really love each other, a wonderful blessing begins — so beautiful and radiant and mysterious that even poets have trouble finding sufficient words for it. These two people know in their hearts that the other is who they were created for. They are ushered into a beautiful new life in which they feel quite unworthy, and they take their first steps with reverent awe.

If there is diversity in marriage, often, it simply takes one of the partners just walking away from a disagreement and letting things cool down. Anyone who says they have never had a difference of opinion in all their years of marriage is either lying through their teeth or they are so brainwashed, they never speak their mind. Two people can disagree without being disagreeable.

Jim and I have a simple solution. We both feel that nothing — nothing — is worth fighting over. We compromise. We hear each other’s opinion and side. We listen to each other. We talk about things, but we do not ever fight or even argue.

If couples are headed in the same direction, they know how to talk and work out problem situations to the satisfaction of both parties. The way we have found that works for us is to brainstorm every solution possible, even if we know it can’t possibly work. Then, we start by the process of elimination and come to an amiable resolution.

I do believe the way to a happy marriage is talk. Talk about everything. Visit about old times, new times and times in between. I never tire of hearing Jim’s wonderful accounts of his experiences in World War II. The great stories of sadness and accomplishments give me an insight to what makes Jim what he is today. His buddies were and are his family, and who wouldn’t want to hear important family stories? I know how important these great stories are to Kevin, who can listen to them for hours, over and over again, and could repeat them word-for-word if Jim ever stumbled in a talk. Those stories are a part of history — our history. I hope we are teaching Kevin how a happy marriage works by his insight of that history.

Happy marriages don’t just happen. Business relations can be dissolved without serious or permanent hurt to either party. Marriage cannot. Married life is not all songs and flowers and laughter. There are times that demand radical adjustments. No one can see around the corner to what happens next, but if two people really want a marriage to last, it will.

Marriage is the most important contract and commitment ever made. It is not an easy contract to fulfill, but it certainly is fulfilling. It takes determination for two people to live together for many happy years. It requires give and take — about 90 percent both ways. But it is certainly worth the effort. The feeling that someone cares more about you than he/she does himself/herself is true devotion.

I truly believe the completion of life and happiness through love for another is the fulfillment of a divine plan. I won’t say that marriage is always a bed of roses, but even when things are a little thorny, those two people still love each other with a kind of love that endures everything.

There was a time when it seemed that Jim and I would just go on forever, until his health began to fail. It started with a broken back, then blood clots in his legs, then asthma, then a fractured hip and subsequent surgery. Following this was his heart event, then a stent, then open-heart bypass surgery. He has congestive heart disease and COPD. He has recently had a new pacemaker to replace the old one, and had an additional lead put in his heart.

We are in no way complaining. We are truly blessed. Jim’s disposition and determination are remarkable. He is happy and positive and never demanding. He has an impressive will to live, undoubtedly learned on the battlefields of World War II, when he was wounded.

In many of the detours of our life, we have had to go to Plan B, but that has not been so bad. When we married, we promised to love, honor, and obey, through sickness and in health, forever. So I signed on for the long haul. It is pure pleasure to care for Jim and to help make his life happy. We never tire of each other and enjoy our time together.

We know as we get older and our lives change that we appreciate life more and it becomes even more precious. Every minute of every day is a blessing. We never pass up a chance to say “I love you.” We are thoughtful and kind to each other. One of the secrets of a happy life and a happy marriage is continuous thoughtful acts of kindness. Life is good!

To express appreciation to that significant other in your life, cook for them. As the old saying goes, “Kissing don’t last ... cooking do!”

Jim suggested I use this recipe in my column. He likes it served with mashed potatoes (with lots of roasted garlic in them).

German Beef Bake

1 pound lean ground beef, crumbled

1 medium onion, chopped

salt and pepper or seasoning to taste

1⁄2 large or 1 small cabbage, finely shredded

1 can (101⁄2 ounces) tomato soup, undiluted

Lightly cook ground beef, onion and seasoning. Spread half the shredded cabbage in 9-by-9-inch baking dish. Cover with half the meat. Repeat with remainder of cabbage and meat in layers. Pour and spread soup over top layer of meat. Cover tightly. Bake in 350-degree oven for one hour.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.