This past weekend, we celebrated my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.

Do a little math, and you’ll realize they were married in the summer of ’69, man. Like when Woodstock was raging. And Bryan Adams was rockin’ out in his garage and kissing his girlfriend on the porch. Of course, my folks were doing no such raging or rockin’ out. They were recent college grads, very practical and responsible, and definitely NOT hippies. (This always disappointed me, but what can you do?)

When we were sitting outside in my brother’s backyard after a celebratory dinner, enjoying the fruits of their labor (i.e., watching their four grandchildren playing), I asked them how they managed to stay together for so long in a time when half of all couples don’t.

Mom said it was due to their unfailing commitment to staying together, as well as a constant willingness to compromise — on both sides. “You’ll resent it if you’re the one compromising and the other person isn’t,” she said.

Dad added that from the very beginning, they agreed not to end a date (or a day, once they were married) mad at each other. They tried to work out whatever argument or issue they had quickly, rather than let it fester.

Hmm. Well, I don’t see a bestselling book coming out of this discussion. Nothing earth-shattering about their “secret.” But it reminded me that successful, long-term marriage is like any other lasting, worthwhile success in life. You have to just keep on keeping on, even when it’s hard. And be flexible, because the world around us is constantly changing. You could apply that to lots of things: weight loss, parenting, work.

And if you do it as well as my parents have all these years with each other, you just might have something worth talking about in 40 years.

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