Last week, I celebrated 30.

Not turning 30 years of age, but celebrating 30 years of marriage with my husband, partner, champion, supporter, and best friend Michael.

It happened slowly and yet so fast, all at once. I’d be lying to say marriage is easy, but in reflecting on 30 years married to my high school sweetheart and having reached this (amazing) middle-aged phase together, it really got me thinking about “why do we work”? As in, how did we build this foundation to succeed independently, while also thriving together, and also as a family?

These are a few questions I thought through while deliberating lessons learned to share with our son and daughter, and also to closer, younger friends with great interest on “how we made (and continue to make!) it work”.

My journey and our choices are our own, and are certainly not a one size fits all, but here is what I think helped us reach and truly celebrate this milestone together:

  • From the very beginning, we had a strong foundation built on friendship (we were the best of friends before we began dating). When times were tough, our friendship had the strength to carry us through, and I firmly believe your “best friendship” with your partner is the anchor to a long and fruitful relationship.
  • We championed each other. It was never all about me, nor was it about him. As our careers and businesses evolved, our respective needs ebbed and flowed and we never held it against one another. Instead, we leant encouragement and enthusiasm even when it may have felt at the expense of our gain (hint: it never did, and a few years later, we are thriving having been supported through individual opportunities to flourish and grow).
  • We parented with the same values. There was no “well dad said this” or “mom said we could do that” – we didn’t undermine one another’s choices in parenting and tried hard to remain consistent in our approach. Because of this, there wasn’t much friction in our family, and as a result, there was less tension in our relationship as parents.
  • We prioritized wellness together. What’s more (pleasantly) surprising is that we became more focused on this as we reached middle age. I can confidently say that now, in our 50s, Michael and I are in the best physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual shape of our lives. What’s more inspiring is that our “kids” seem to have adopted healthy lifestyles of their own.
  • We set goals together. While trying at times (especially as you evolve as individuals), we worked hard to develop goals that complemented and supported one another’s goals, so that we could succeed individually while also building on our foundation as a couple and family. I think this is what allowed us to stay “consciously coupled” throughout our marriage, and what has brought us to current state, where we’ve achieved many dreams together and defined so many more.
  • We spent time together. We made this a priority, even though it was not always easy to carve out “couple time” when in the throws of raising children, demands of extracurricular activities as well as our own individual work commitments. Whether it was an evening cooking together when the kids were young and tucked into bed, or a dinner and movie date night out. I can confidently say we have never stopped “dating”.

At the end of the day, it’s about finding a true partner to have a “go at life” with, where love, trust, respect, growth, and adventure can coexist in a way that works best for you. I’m lucky to have found that, and to have celebrated 30 amazing years with my best friend, while also in the presence of my wonderful family that celebrated it right alongside with us.

Take some time to reflect on what has “worked” for you and your life partner and share it with your children or the “young” people in your life. Why? Because sharing our experience and wisdom of love is a gift we can give to those generations after us and because we can!

Married couple - D by denise
Married couple - D by denise

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