Married for 40 Years: 3 Tips on Staying Together for Love

Married for 40 Years: 3 Tips on Staying Together for Love May 18, 2021

After 40 years, I’m still married to my high school sweetheart.

We’ve been married for 40 years. I can’t believe it’s been so long, but I can’t imagine life without my husband.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV).

I wrote the story below after we went wilderness camping with the children and grandchildren in the fall of 2020.

Wilderness Camping

In some ways, I felt like an intruder on the camping trip. I didn’t normally go with them, but when I suggested I might, my husband Martin seemed truly excited, and said, “Maybe this can be our thing!”

After nearly forty years of marriage, three adult children, two daughters-in-law, and nine grandkids, did we really need a “thing”?

A 40 Years Kiss

Just a surprise kiss on the forehead, yet so tender, so unexpected, while our second-born adjusted the camera for a rare photo of the two of us alone.

But that kiss just hit me out of nowhere. I hardly slept at all the night before. The next morning, maybe I was so tired as to be emotional. But suddenly I felt the love of all those years, years of pain, joy, elation, fear, forgiveness, passion, and friendship. Did he still love me after all these years? Was I truly wanted or just an intruder into this men’s survival ritual he’d enjoyed with his sons?

The answer came in the form of that kiss, spontaneous, yet passionate, though simply a kiss on the forehead, such as he, as a grandfather had given many times to daughter and grandchildren—but no, this kiss was more than a grandfather’s kiss. It was the kiss of a lifetime of love for a friend he’d grown up with, a friend he was so grateful for, a friend he would love “until death do us part.”

And in that kiss, I was entirely present, nowhere else. All of our years together leading up to this moment were encapsulated in that simple gesture. The unutterable joy would not have been possible without all of the pain and loss and struggle of the previous 40 years. That kiss declared, “After all these years, I love you more than ever, and it will never end, and I’m so glad you’re here with me. Through life’s crazy pains and loves, I want you with me. Thank you for giving your life to me. I give mine to you, holding nothing back.”

The mountain stream beneath our feet washed away all insecurity, and all that remained was that kiss, pure and true.

Our Children Are Watching

“Ah, you guys are so cute!” said our daughter, watching.

I recall one time a high school teacher of hers shared with me, “We were having a discussion about lasting love in class the other day, and your daughter said, ‘I think my parents are still in love.’”

I’m happy she saw it that way, and though sometimes I wondered why I had married this exasperating man, I suppose it was true. We were in love—not the fairy tale, everything is always pretty and perfect kind of love, but the I’m-sticking-with-you-through-thick-and-thin kind of love, 40 years and counting.

How does one get to this place of peace and joy in a long marriage?  Mostly by the grace of God, absolutely, but I’ll share a few suggestions.

1. Communicate

Some of our worst times were caused by lack of communication. We both came from families who didn’t talk about problems, and so we could go years without facing an underlying issue in our marriage. This caused a lot of unnecessary pain. When we finally did talk about it, we found the other meant well, or in some cases had no clue there was a problem. The love was still there, and we worked through it.

2. Avoid Disrespectful Jokes

A sense of humor is essential, but some couples cut each other down in front of friends and family, and it hurts. Also, we agreed never to joke about divorce. We married for life, and short of abuse or unfaithfulness, we will work it out. Divorce is not an option.

3. Forgive

Forgiveness will be required in a long-lasting relationship. The fairytale prince and princess stories did us no good. Your spouse will hurt you, and you will hurt him or her. Long relationships involve forgiveness. Go to counseling, wait and pray, persevere. Cases of abuse or unfaithfulness are difficult, and I don’t advise anyone to stay in an abusive relationship. Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Divorce is necessary at times. But for two good-hearted lovers, a long happy marriage is possible and preferable. Learn how to forgive.


Any thoughts on how to have a long happy marriage? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

I’m an artist who loves to write. If you’d like to get to know me better, please follow me on social media.

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