Dear Annie: With an estimated 2.5 million couples planning on getting married this year, how can those of us who have successfully navigated marriage over the years help these couples succeed once the honeymoon phase ends?
The internet and social media are filled with marital doom and gloom, and even the relationship counselors online can’t seem to agree with each other on how to succeed in a marriage.
My wife and I have been married for 38 years, and looking back, you could say we were definitely in a feminist marriage by choice. There was no internet, no cellphone and no social media when we got married, and we didn’t buy into the self-help books of the time.
We could succeed in our marriage because we recognized the dignity of our value in this world and felt respect for the responsibility to have this value grow in ourselves. This feeling of respect is what nurtured our extreme trust in each other, which allowed us to communicate freely with each other. As each of us would grow, we would never leave the other one behind.
Annie, these newlyweds will need to surround themselves with a healthy environment. How can we help them to succeed? – Longing To Help
Dear Longing To Help: If you plant an oak tree seed in a 2-foot pot, it won’t grow into much. But if you plant that same seed into the ground with limitless area to grow and a healthy environment, that tree will become the large oak tree it was meant to be.
Just like in a relationship, if your environment is filled with electronics, junk food and lots of trashy television, your relationship will stay in that 2-foot pot. But if your relationship is planted in nature with lots of communication, books and mutual respect, that relationship will blossom into a beautiful one.
You and your wife are equal partners. You want to help younger couples succeed, and your letter, and example, will do just that.
Dear Annie: I wanted to send a note of gratitude to you for recognizing Al-Anon as a resource for families affected by problem drinking. It is a family disease, and many members are able to have their own recovery, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.
Personally, I grew up with a problem drinker affecting my childhood; hence, I escaped into a marriage that failed quickly. I dated a drinker and then married a guy who spent more time in the beer line than on the dance floor. He did get sober and maintained his sobriety on his own without any help from me. I got into my own recovery. We each grew in our respective programs.
Sobriety did not make our relationship perfect, but we stayed together for 44 years before he passed away. I am grateful for the recovery that helped me through life’s challenges.
I hope that your readers heed your recommendations. Al-Anon is a free community resource, a safe haven for family members who understand as perhaps few others can, and it is anonymous for those who want it rather than for those who need it.
Once again, thank you for spreading the word about this vital resource that can help others affected by the family disease of alcoholism. – In Humble Service
Dear Humble Service: Thank you for your letter. I am so glad that you found so much peace and healing through Al-Anon, and I hope your letter inspires others who are suffering.
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