Hollingsworths’ secrets for a long, happy marriage

We were married 68 years ago, on Dec. 28, 1947. In the last few years, we have often been asked, “How are we able to stay married to each other for such a long time?” and “What is your secret for a long, happy marriage?” and “How do you tolerate living with the same person that long?” Marriage is a job that requires hard work. Our answers to these and other question are as follows:

1. Don’t “fall in love.” You might get hurt. Develop a friendship first and love will grow.

2. You have to work together and pray together to stay together. Some situations will require an all-night prayer vigil.

3. Respect each other. Refrain from blaming and name-calling and speaking to each other in anger. You cannot take back words once spoken. Hurtful words remain in your psyche forever.

4. When you marry, “Mine” and “Yours” must become “Ours.” Marriage is an equal partnership. There is no “Boss” or “Subordinate.” Trust your mate; don’t dominate.

Dr. Berlin and Reba Hollingsworth

Dr. Berlin and Reba Hollingsworth

5. You must have a “wishbone,” a “funny bone,” and a “backbone” to succeed in marriage.

6. Re-read your marriage vows each year on your anniversary – more often, if necessary, especially when you need to be reminded that you promised to remain married to each other “until death parts you.”

7. Periodically, read the love letters and cards you wrote to each other when you were dating.

8. Kiss each other often, especially when you awaken in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

9. Love each other’s families, but don’t live in the same town with either of your families. Live far enough away that you have to make plans to visit each other.

10. Don’t interfere with other people’s business and keep other people out of your business.

11. Don’t offer unsolicited advice to anyone. If they want your advice, they will ask for it.

12. Every five to seven years, you will have a crisis in your marriage, but, if you stay in the same bed together, you can resolve any conflicts that may arise.

13. If your marriage is sick, seek help from a certified marriage counselor, not from your friends and relatives.

14. Before blaming your mate, evaluate yourself first. You may be the source of conflict in the relationship.

15. Don’t try to change your mate. Accept your spouse as she/he is. You can’t change anyone except yourself.

16. Lies and deceptions destroy a relationship. Be honest with each other. No matter how bad the truth may be, always tell the truth. Problems based on truth are solvable.

17. Forgive yourself and your mate unconditionally.

18. Avoid long periods of absence from each other. Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder — for someone else!

19. Develop an appreciation for your mate’s interests and hobbies. Sharing each other’s interests and hobbies leads to a happier relationship.

20. Have discussions with each other before making major purchases or major decisions.

21. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Have a plan and decide what is best for you and your family and live within your means.

22. Live on a budget. No matter how large or how small your income, pay your tithes first, then, pay yourself, and finally, pay your debts. Don’t make any purchases or charge anything you can’t pay for in full when the bill is due. Never put “wants” ahead of “needs.” Save at least 10 percent of your income.

23. If you feel you must lend money to family and friends, have them sign a loan agreement. You will be able to collect your money, if they do not repay it as agreed.

24. Do not live together before marriage. Cohabitation leads to severe problems when there are no legal commitments to the relationship.

25. Throughout your marriage, continue doing the same things you did that attracted you to each other when you were dating and first married. That means you must continue to love and respect each other always.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Berlin N. Hollingsworth, Ph.D., is a retired Caesar Rodney School District educator, and Reba R. Hollingsworth, Ph.D., is a retired Dover High School guidance counselor. They reside in Dover.

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