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  • Writer's pictureJane Cooper Hong

My Best Advice After 35 Years of Marriage

From Oct. 24, 2018

My husband and I have been married 35 years. To younger people who are getting married or recently married, I sometimes offer these three nuggets of advice:

Share Common Values

Having hobbies in common gives you something to do together, which is fine, but what really matters is that you share common values. I’m not talking about “values” in the religious or conservative sense of the word, but that you willingly spend your time and money on the same things.

My husband and I met and were married in Taiwan. Culturally, we started life on opposite sides of the globe. But we share a core, foundational belief in the importance of family. This means sending money to his mom or other family as needed is 100-percent fine with me, and that, when my mom was ill, and my dad before that, my husband was equally OK with my need to make the 6.5-hour drive to Minnesota to visit them as often as possible.

Another example is our shared emphasis on the value of education, which led us to ensure our daughters were exposed to books and learning from the earliest ages and to support and encourage them in their studies. We had the sheer good fortune that our three daughters were born bright and healthy, but we built on that foundation because we shared the belief that education will allow our children to achieve more than we could. 

Never Stop Finding Reasons to Laugh

A shared sense of humor can get you through some of the roughest spots in your relationship. Never stop finding reasons to laugh.

Early in our marriage, we had a cat that would flatten her ears forward and down against her head when she was angry. My husband and I were arguing about something (important at the time, but long since forgotten). I was getting angrier by the minute, and so was he, when suddenly, he put his hands up on either side of his head like ears and flopped them forward and down in an imitation of Angry Cat. We both broke out laughing, and our anger dissipated. We have resolved countless arguments since then with Angry Cat ears, just one example of how humor has kept us close.

Remember What You Fell in Love with About Your Spouse in the First Place

I understand that people grow apart and sometimes may have truly “irreconcilable differences,” but when I see people who end up hating each other, I always wonder how someone can completely lose sight of any shred or glimmer of who or what they fell in love with about their spouse. Even as my husband and I went through the most trying moments in our marriage, I never completely lost sight of the things I love about him. 

I make no promises about the benefit of adhering to these tips, but hopefully, they’ll help someone else find or remember the best parts of their relationship.

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