“I know it sounds kind of corny, but we truly believe that every day is Valentine’s Day.” That’s how Jay Krevsky describes his successful marriage to Nancy - his wife of fifty years.
Whether or not we choose to admit it, most of us would love to know the secret to achieving lasting love. While there’s no simple answer, with Valentine’s Day approaching, we try to reveal the secret by looking into the marriages of two couples who have celebrated Golden Anniversaries. We also offer some advice provided by award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz in their book, “Building a Love that Lasts.”
Jay and Nancy Krevsky
Jay and Nancy decided at the very beginning that “absolutely nothing was going to break our marriage apart.” They recalled watching the movie “The Way We Were” with Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford and found it so senseless for them to throw away a marriage over political differences. Jay went on to explain, “I think younger people exit at the first real sign of adversity.” Yet that adversity, according to Nancy, can turn into a benefit. “Learning to work through conflict made our marriage stronger. Resolving differences brought a deeper, richer and even spiritual dimension to our marriage. The rewards are so great.”
The path to fifty years definitely involved a good sense of humor that both enjoy and appreciate. “Jay has a wonderful wit while I’m a little more sarcastic,” admitted Nancy. And right on cue, Jay claimed that Nancy “really fell in love with my 1958 Chevy Del Ray.” (Who wouldn’t?)
Beyond that Chevy, Jay and Nancy attribute their lasting love to sharing one mutual passion together: theater. They’ve acted in 110 plays and just a few months ago they shared their first long scene together in “Sunshine Boys.” Jay described their moment on the stage with all the exuberance of a newlywed. They’ll both tell you that doing things together – whether it’s vacations, going to the movies, raising children, sharing the same faith or spending time with their family – is the lifeblood of a successful marriage. In fact, we had to cut their interview short…they were packing to leave the next day for Seattle to enjoy the grandkids.
Dick and Lois Cromer
Dick and Lois have been married an amazing 62 years. Dick jokingly says the secret to marriage is the fact that “I learned to say ‘Yes, Ma’am.’” Lois laughed, and they proceeded to recount how a good sense of humor drew them to each other and is essential to a good marriage. “You have to laugh things off now and then,” said Lois.
“Marriage is a joint adventure, and it’s a lesson you need to learn very early,” Dick went on to explain. “We’re opposites in many ways; for example, I love our cabin in the mountains and spending time hiking and fishing. Meanwhile Lois loves going to the seashore.” Rather than fight over which is the better vacation or take separate ones, the couple managed to always do both together – and happily.
“Doing things together” has been the secret to their marriage. They loved dancing “before arthritis forced it to take a back seat.” Now they love taking vacations with their adult children, grandchildren and great grandchildren (they have two and another on the way). Going on cruises with the whole clan is a favorite.
Raising children, for many couples, can be rough, especially when they disagree. But the Cromers believed in one very important tenet: “We both followed a line from Proverbs 22: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” As Lois tells it, “You can sure get into trouble if you don’t both agree on how to raise your children. We would always talk things over when it came to raising our girls – we functioned as a team.” Religion has also been both a guiding light and comfort to their marriage.
Their “joint adventure” has brought them to a new phase: “We are at a great time in our lives. We recently sold our home and have moved into Bethany Village (a continuing care retirement community
). We can come and go as we want, have no more hassles with the upkeep of a house and it’s sure nice not to have to shovel snow or mow the lawn.” And, as you would expect, it means more time enjoying each other.
“Our greatest blessing is that we are really the best of friends.”
Friendship, doing things together, resolving conflicts, adjusting to change, a good sense of humor are all strong themes in these two marriages. Valentine’s Day couples would do well to follow their lead as there’s plenty of research to support the importance of these qualities. In their excellent book, “Building a Love That Lasts,” relationship experts Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz interviewed thousands of successfully married couples who had been married at least thirty years. They discovered seven key characteristics present in every single relationship; we have provided an excerpt from their book below.
Seven Secrets to Build a Love that Lasts
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
- A marriage is like a tango, it works best if the partners move with great synergy and togetherness. It means compromising and carrying the burdens of your marriage on four shoulders, not just two.
- There are no sacred cows. Successful couples talk about anything without fear of reprisal. They never go to bed mad – they talk it over first.
- Follow the Golden Rule, giving each other respect and understanding while acknowledging each others’ need for privacy.
- Respect the fact that your “Body is Your Castle” by taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Care about the way you look and feel for your spouse.
- Communicate about your finances: Make major purchases together, create a joint budget, pay bills together, file joint tax returns and agree on your spending habits.
- Master the “Morse Code” of marriage – it’s called touching. Hold hands, kiss each other whenever you wake up and before going to bed, sit next to each other, touch each other often each day and invest in intimacy.
- Successful marriages are characterized by variety, adventure, laughter, surprises and doing the unexpected. Try something new every month, each date, send flowers for no reason, and write each other love letters.