25 years and counting – What makes “Robin and Stew” work?

2 Aug

Now that our 30-day celebration period of our 25th anniversary is drawing to a close (we started July 1st, and we’ll call it an end August 4th after seeing the Steve Miller Band concert in Chicago), and having just returned from a marvelous trip to Cancun, I thought I’d share something that Robin and I talk about a lot:  What makes our marriage a success?  What can translate to others?

We have a very simple formula when it comes to our marriage:  We are a couple first, above everything.   If you parse that a bit finer, we like to say that our priority system is this:

1) We are a couple first
2) We are parents second
3) We are working people third

Thankfully, we come from two families with DEEP histories of long, great marriages.  In our immediate family lines, there are no divorces.  My folks were married 35 years when my Dad passed away in 1992.  Her folks just celebrated their 50th.  Both sets of my grandparents were close to or over the 50 year mark (not sure …) when my grandfathers passed.  Both sets of Robin’s grandparents went more than 60 years!  And etc. etc.   We have lots of good examples to follow.  Yet, while  I don’t recall getting long-marriage advice from any of them,  it is clear to see that all of our parents and grandparents were and are great couples, who, whether they ever said it or not, followed a similar formula.

There are a few habits we have that help drive this.  We never go to bed mad.  No one sleeps on the couch at our house.  We always go to bed at the same time.  We try to always have dinner together, and focus on family dinners. We continually strive to find “just us” things to do – right now our favorite “just us” activity is a “date” to go to one of our favorite gourmet/fresh market grocery stores on a Sunday.  Sound mundane?  It is.  But we like it.

Additionally we recognize the need for space.  She does her things, I do mine.  We always communicate our schedules and what we are doing together to ensure it doesn’t cause conflict.   But if I want to have a beer with a pal after work, as long as it doesn’t conflict with a family activity, no problems.  She wants a girls night out?  Or a girls full day out?  Great!  By respecting the others interests and space, it sharpens and refines how we are when we are together.

Finally, a key thing:   Reconnection time.  We always find time and somehow find money to disappear together, just the two of us – without the kids, without friends from home, etc.  Some years, when we’ve had budget pressures, it’s been just simply for a weekend to somewhere as inexpensive as we could find – a friends lake house a few years ago after they had closed up in September, as an example.  And this year, it was a bit more extravagant, with a full 7-night, 8-day trip to Cancun, Mexico.  While we did join friends that we had met at the same resort in 2007, it was still leaving everyone and everything from home behind.  And that’s what’s key to this.

We have been lucky – we have a great support network at home in our parents, our families, etc. who have always stepped up and taken care of the boys – not an easy task when they were little guys, what with twins in diapers and all.  We realize that not everyone could do that.  And, now that they are teens, they are kids that can be trusted with the care of the house.  They were alone for 7 nights – and the house is clean and the dog was fed.  Can’t ask for more than that!   But so many of our friends only travel with their kids, only travel with their friends, and well, that’s fine for them, but we must have our “just us” time.  It is not extravagant. It is essential to the continued health and growth of our marriage.

Assuming all goes well, and praying for continued good health for both of us, we know we’re going to find ourselves to be empty-nesters in a few short years.  I see all this effort going into “couple first” as preparation for that day.  Think about it – in a long term marriage the progression is circular:  You start as a couple, just you two.  You add your careers to that.  You add kids to that.  The kids grow up and move away.  Then you retire from your careers.  And guess what – it’s back to the start of the circle.  Hope you worked on being a couple!

We loved our reconnecting week last week.  We walked and held hands.  We laughed.  We sat together talking.  We sat together saying nothing but just looking at the waves.  We partied, we danced, etc.  We had single time too – I took long “photo walks” on the beach.  She slept in and she read her books.  But most of all, we were together.  As we will always be.

As you were,

Stew

From Cancun one evening:

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5 Responses to “25 years and counting – What makes “Robin and Stew” work?”

  1. Linda Covert Campbell August 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Well said. As you may remember, we had “adult time” when we met for a drink before dinner….no kids allowed at least for the first 20 minutes or so. Chin chin, salut, skoal, slainte and sainte!

    • Linda O August 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      This blog needs a “like” button! I like this Linda!

      • Stew's Brew August 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

        Actually, I think there IS a like button – below the comments box.

  2. Lois Cox August 2, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Congratulations, you two! You might add that your sister hasn’t done so bad either. And, we’re approaching 53 years.

  3. carpetbagger August 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Congratulations. Good stuff. You know it’s good when the time goes fast. Can’t believe we’ve been married 18 years.

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