Nearly 50 percent of married couples in the United States end up divorced. Government figures from the Center of Disease Control show the U.S. marriage rate is 7.1 per 1000 total population and the divorce rate is 3.5 per 1000.
According to DivorceMagazine.com, the percentage of married persons who reach their 25th anniversary is 33 percent; 20 of couples reach their 35th anniversary; but only 5 percent reach their 50th. Clearly it is not easy to stay married.
But what if you do stay married? For sixty years and counting? What does it take?
Most books and articles focus on newlyweds or couples facing midlife crises. Where can couples turn for advice on how to make a marriage thrive after 40, 50 or more years of marriage?
Happily author/speaker Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad shares the story of her 60 (and still counting) years of marriage in her newest book, This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage (©April 2010, MulberryHillPress.com).
“To stay married for a long time, you have to be blessed with unusual longevity,” admits Hjelmstad, “and you have to find a way to resolve the many differences that arise over the years. My Husband Les, and I did very well until our 33rd year. Then one day the word ‘divorce’ came up during a heated discussion. It took four months to figure out that that probably wasn’t a great idea.”
“Another thing that amazes us is that we actually traveled 400,000 miles together, speaking on breast cancer issues, after we were 63 and 72. And we didn’t kill one another or even mention divorce.”
In This Path We Share we learn the story of Hjelmstad’s long marriage – through four children (born two years apart), illness (including breast cancer), tragedy, and unprecedented social upheaval.
- A few of the core bits of advice shared in this book are:
- Nurture your primary relationship tenaciously
- Fall in love with each new person your mate becomes
- Create a post-parenthood marriage – if you are lucky, there will be years after children leave
- Reinvent your lives to fit changing circumstances
- Foster a lifelong sexual connection
Lois hopes This Path We Share will help couples from the about-to-be-marrieds and young marrieds to those struggling to hang on to what they once had and those looking to affirm their long happy relationships.