We learn from our patients and caregivers every day in clinic, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. In preparation for my son’s upcoming wedding, I decided to tap into this treasure trove of experience and ask for the advice they would give to a soon-to-be bride and groom. The responses were full of humor, love and loyalty – and taught me more than I expected.
I asked: “What is the secret to a long and happy marriage?
“There isn’t one – there are a hundred – but there is one word – us!” – F; age 84
“Always hold her hand.” – R; age 88
“The other person has to be more important than yourself.” – H; age 92
“You’ll do dumb things. Admit it and change it!” – W; age 93
“Share your love with each other. My girl waited for me for five years while I was in Germany. We wrote letters back and forth and I’d take pictures with my little camera to send. In one picture, I had a partially written letter with a beer in my hand. Her mom told her she couldn’t marry me because I was a drunk! I bought a ring there and as soon as I returned to the states I drove to our hometown and gave it to her. We have been married over 50 years.” – H; age 88
“Be understanding. You both bring your stories to the marriage.” – B; age 80
“Always do what she says!” – T; age 88. In response, “Always have a good sense of humor! And forgiveness – even now after 60 years together. And forget it!” – R; age 87
“You have to start with a positive attitude within yourself. When I have a coffee bean with chocolate stuck on my tooth, I don’t think ‘I look bad to others’. I think how good that coffee and chocolate taste. And when I am positive with me I can handle behaviors in others because I know I can’t change them anyways!” – B; age 86
“Marriage is work and you have to like the pay.” – B; age 83
One of my favorite stories is from a woman who has been a longtime patient and is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. She no longer remembers many details of her life. When I asked her the secret to a happy marriage, without hesitation and with a look of pure love in her eyes, she said, “Be best friends, first and always.”
On behalf of Memory Center Charlotte, thank you for sharing your love lessons with us.