In June, 2022, we were invited to attend a 70th wedding anniversary! It is an event so rare, I only found one article that included a statistic. It was about one of the world’s most famous couple – the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, who celebrated their Platinum Wedding anniversary in 2017. In the U.K., this was a one in a million probability of happening!
Michael and I celebrated our fortieth (40th) wedding anniversary in August. 2022 was also the first summer after the Covid-19 pandemic when restrictions on large gatherings and celebrations had loosened up. We knew of friends and family members who had been holding off their wedding plans for the past two years, finally being able to marry and celebrate with their loved ones.
All of these events made me curious about the longevity of relationships and whether there were common practices, attitudes, and characteristics that promoted lasting, successful marriages/partnerships. Within my Christmas friends list, I realized that we were among over one hundred (100) couples who had been together for twenty-five (25) years or more.
There are many books on the topic of finding and keeping love for a lifetime. For those interested in reading more, there is a link to a list of the top 15 books on the subject at the end of this blog.
But rather than taking advice from marriage counsellors, who work with people in troubled relationships, I wanted to learn from this group of thoughtful, kind, and emotionally intelligent people. I already know they have long and loving relationships with their current partners and have weathered the inevitable ups and downs of any interpersonal relationship.
I am forever grateful for those to took the time to share their candid personal views and lived experiences.
I created a short, informal survey and sent it out at the beginning of June, asking for responses by the end of the month, and only received a handful back. Another handful came in July. A larger flurry of responses came after I sent out a reminder in August. The final ones came in the last two months.
A few responded to my request saying they did not want to participate because they do not do surveys; thought the questions too personal, and/or because I didn’t have the technology to ensure anonymity. Fair enough.
The respondents provided thoughtful insights which were rich in detail. Rather than overwhelm the reader with a very long article, I will publish the responses to each question in weekly installments.
The secret(s) to long and fulfilling unions/marriages
- How long have you been together______ years / married______ years?
- Was it “love at first sight” or something else (tell me some more)?
- What are the top 3 reasons for having had such a long and successful relationship with your partner/spouse?
- If you have children, how has raising a family affected your relationship with your partner/spouse?
- What are the top 3 characteristics of your partner/spouse that has kept you enthralled with her/him?
- What advice would you give new couples for achieving a long and fulfilling union?
- Your Gender
- Your Age
- This was a challenge to fill out but a good exercise to go through.
- We answered separately without discussing. It is quite neat to see the overlap!
- We just now reviewed our responses together – interesting!
- Marriage is like a roller coaster…….ups, downs and a bunch of twists and turns. One never really knows how we will react to life challenges, it depended on a bunch of things like; fatigue, past experiences, emotional tension. I will be interested in reading what you write for sure.
- I think marriage might be a dying art because it’s to costly to get out of and living together today is quite acceptable.
- Interest[ed] to see the answers of others.
- It was an interesting exercise.
Thank you for the chance to participate in your project.
What are the numbers and responses to Questions 1,7, and 8?
- 43 Submissions
- All were married; 1 widowed
- None were same-sex marriages
- In 14 cases (35%) only 1 spouse responded
- 3% had been married 50 years or more; ave: 59.5 years, ranging from 53-70 years. (Another 70-year marriage!)
- 3% had been married less than 50 years; ave: 35.5 years, ranging from 15 – 48 years
- .07% did not indicate years of marriage
- 37 gave ages, arranging from 53-90; ave: 74 years
- 24 Females; 19 Males
How do the numbers compare to Canadian statistics?
- Canada has 8.6 million couples (2021 StatsCan census).
- 77% of couples are married, while 23% are common-law partners.
- Canada has the highest percentage of common-law couples among G7 nations, due to the popularity of this type of union in Quebec.
- 57% of adults are part of a couple; same, 58%, as in 1921.
- 52% of females 65 + years are in a couple, up from 41% in 1981.
- 74% of males 65+ years are in a couple, same, 75%, as in 1981.
- Average length of marriage ending in divorce was 15.3 years in 2020, up from 12.5 years in 1980.
The changing face of Couples in Canada (Statistics Canada 2022)
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s 70th wedding anniversary
Top 15 books on Marriage/relationships (2019)
Come back in the next 5 weeks to see the responses to the remaining questions.
See you on Wednesdays; each article will be posted by 9 am PST.
Thanks to Alexander Sinn on Unsplash for the featured photo.
On Nov 30, Responses to: Was it “love at first sight” or something else (tell me some more)?