When it comes to marriage, first attraction counts

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Sandra Johnson

A 1999 study showed that marriage in the United States is weakening.

The study, by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, found that the marriage rate among Americans is at its lowest point ever.

Over the last 40 years, the rate has fallen 43 percent.

In addition, fewer people are reporting themselves as being "very happy" in their marriages.

Reading that statistic from the website BookRag.com, I feel proud that my 50th wedding anniversary (June 15) is coming up soon. Also, I am thinking about why I stayed married to my husband so long.

One reason is that he is sensible.

He used good judgment in bringing the Christmas spirit into the house without going overboard. We were celebrating our seventh or eight Christmas together. We were so poor that the word poor did not adequately describe our situation. We had food, a turkey and all the trimmings, which our families saw to us having.

But there were no gifts or toys for the babies. My husband gave me a coat pin, it was in the shape of a Christmas tree and it had various small pieces of colored glass on it. He gave our 6-year-old a ten cent bouncing ball, and the 5-year old a tiny blue truck.

On another occasion, he found a practical answer to a question. It was 1980, his job, Bell Telephone Co., was sending him to Los Angeles to work for six months. I asked him what I should do while he was away. Softly, he said, "Go back to school and learn something." I did and I learned how to write, something I had always wanted to know how to do.

Another reason is that he is cool.

One time an old high school girlfriend came to visit, and my husband didn't remember her. She kept insisting that he should have remembered her. He didn't get annoyed or angry. He was patient with her. With his laid back demeanor, he treated her friendly and courteously.

Also, he was cool one day when we had several house guests. My husband misplaced his wallet. He asked me in a low deep voice without strain or anxiety if I knew where it was. One of the female guests asked me, "Does your husband always talk to you in that way?" I replied, "Yes, relaxed and calm."

The third most important reason for staying married to my husband for so long is his kindness.

Back in the 1970s, I did a stupid thing. I was working for the Railroad Retirement Board. I got mad with my supervisor and quit my job. As soon as I got home, I felt terribly bad, ashamed, and guilty. I felt ashamed because I let my temper cost me my job. And I felt guilty because I let my family down. We needed the income from my job. I just knew my husband would raise the roof.

"You quit your good government job, are you crazy?" I imagined he would say.

But he understood that I was in misery. Looking at the brighter side of the situation, he spared my feeling. He used kindness rather than harshness. "Don't feel bad," he said. "You'll have more time to spend with the children."

Melissa Chapman, relationship writer, editor, and contributor to the website Loving You.com said in her article How to Be Attracted to Your Spouse, "Don't' focus on all the negative things about your spouse. No one is perfect! Do think about all their good qualities ...

My husband's sensibleness, kindness, and calmness, are what keep us together.

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