The tradition of high-profile celebrity divorces is well underway, giving cue to mental health professionals counselors to issue their laundry lists of advice for the holiday season.
However, having endured decades of family feasts, shopping marathons, home decorating and undecorating, and party roulette, couples married 50 years or longer -- "real-life" relationship experts -- hold the "real-life" formula for marital bliss. Author Sheryl Kurland, who interviewed 75 couples married 50+ years in "Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More" (EverlastingMatrimony.com; ISBN 1-56167-841-4), reveals the secrets to holiday marriage survival from the voices of experience:
12 Tips For Holiday Marriage Survival (Source: Couples Married 50+ Years)
1. Never discuss sensitive subjects when you’re hungry.
2. Make a list of what not to talk about at family gatherings.
- Never use the word “older,” as in “Aunt Mary is ‘older’ than Aunt Susan” or “For an ‘older’ man, Uncle Harold has a lot of hair.”
- Don’t talk politics, religion, baseball or football, especially what teams are playing each other in Bowl games.
3. At family dinners, if you’ve lost weight recently, don’t mention it. In fact, wear baggy clothes to make yourself inconspicuous.
4. Never roll your eyes or shush someone’s annoying, bratty child running around or whining.
5. Take a vacation, i.e., go on a cruise, stay at a bed & breakfast. (If some relatives are insulted by your plan, they’re probably the same ones that made you miserable!)
6. Consolidate tasks. Example: Take a nap together. This allows you to accomplish two goals at once: 1) Devote time solely to each other, and 2) Prevent exhaustion.
7. Make dreaded tasks more enjoyable. Example: Chat on the phone with someone you'll miss seeing over the holidays (refer to #5) while wrapping presents or addressing holiday cards.
8. Celebrate somebody else’s holiday. Forego the lavish, overindulgent holiday feast and, instead, volunteer at a church, food bank or homeless shelter to help the less fortunate.
9. If an issue arises, decide how big a deal it really is to the two of you – not Aunt Emma or Uncle Fester. (And, in the heat of battle, seize fire.)
10. Weather turbulence with laughter.
11. Forget the Norman Rockwell ideal. The pie crust won’t be perfect. Scale down your expectations, and focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong.
12. Keep a good book handy.
(Sheryl P. Kurland © December 2005)
In "Everlasting Matrimony," a coffee-table book, Ms. Kurland interviewed 75 couples married 50 years or longer to discover "What really keeps a marriage ticking?"; over 4,000 years of marriage are represented in the book. Husbands and wives were interviewed separately. The couples reside across the U.S., and represent a sprinkling of America," from different faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. In the 160-page, hard-cover volume, they share uncensored, unedited advice and insight on every aspect of relationships, ranging from communication, sex and money to children, religion, hardships and much more. Along with their prose, the couples are pictured in “early” and “today” photographs.
An award-winning freelance writer and marketing consultant, Ms. Kurland earned a B.A. degree in Communications from the University of Georgia. She has written for companies and organizations in a variety of industries, and her works have been published by numerous magazines and newspapers.