Born and raised in the quaint town of Chamonix in the French Alps, Michael comes from a long line of proud mountain men. He spent his childhood hiking, skiing and getting to know the mountainous terrain of his homeland. Travel was never a big part of his life, and the first time he ever saw the ocean was when he was drafted and sent to Algeria to partake in the Algerian War. Upon his return, Michael has since spent his life making a name for himself as one of the best carpenters in the area.
Marie was born and raised in a neighboring village and met the love of her life when she made the move to Chamonix in her late teens to become a teacher.
“In the 50s, Chamonix wasn’t what it is now. There were perhaps only a third of the buildings that you see today, and it was not overflowing with tourists. It was a quiet, peaceful and secluded piece of heaven,” said Marie with a smile.
“The trick to a lasting marriage is that you have to be prepared to put in the work as nothing in life comes easy, not even love,” said Michael.
Love lessons learned from the experts
After 59 years of ups and downs, I figured they would be the perfect couple to garner relationship tips from. Here are 8 of the best pieces of advice that you are going to get, if what you seek is a solid relationship.
#1 Go to bed angry. Despite what you may read and hear about never going to bed angry, you totally should. According to Marie, “What is the point of arguing and crying till the next morning? All it does is make things worse as the longer you fight, the more irritated and frustrated you become.” Mix in tears and fatigue, and you get an argument that goes absolutely nowhere.
Contrary to what you may have been taught, just go to bed angry, sleep on the problem and tackle it when you are both fresh and ready for battle the next day. You will be surprised at how quickly your problems will be resolved when you give each other time to think, breathe and get over it. [Read: 11 tips for a truly happy marriage]
#2 Trust, even if you don’t feel like it. You always have to trust your partner, no matter how difficult it may be. Trust is transcendent. It seeps into every aspect of your life and should not be reserved just for fidelity. Sure, you have to trust that your partner is going to be loyal, but you also have to trust yourself to be able to handle everything that gets flung your way.
“When Michael was sent to Algeria to fight in the Algerian War, I had to trust that he would come back to me alive,” said Marie. “It was life and death, and I had to trust God to keep him safe, and I had to place complete trust in myself that I would survive if he never came back.”
Sadly, sending a loved one off to war is not unheard of today. Thankfully, a majority of lives today are tinged by wars solely through news outlets and social media updates. In most cases today, trust in a relationship has more to do with not getting screwed over by your spouse.
In line with the times, you should trust your partner to do the right thing, no matter what the situation is. If there is no trust, there is no point of being together. What sort of life do you expect to live if all you do is worry about whether your husband or wife is doing something wrong? [Read: 9 practical ways to rebuild trust in your relationship]
#3 Embrace gratitude. “You have to be grateful for everything in life. From the air you breathe to the health that you have, from the roof over your head to the partner that you have chosen for yourself,” said Michael.
A majority of couples end their marriages because they cannot stop fighting over their finances. Whether it is paying off their kids’ college tuition, taking out a second mortgage or getting into an argument about whether a home renovation is necessary, couples break up all the time over money. What is the point of all that? Just be grateful for all that you have and you will find that life is a wonderful adventure worth living together.
Embrace gratitude and just be thankful for all that you have. Once you realize that you have so much, you will be happy. Stop chasing after materialistic things, and stop comparing yourself to others. The thing you have to remember is that no matter how much money you have, it will never be enough.
#4 Only settle for the best. As contradictory as this may seem to the point above, you have to take this piece of advice to heart. Only settle for the best when it comes to love, and do not settle for mediocrity.
An example is meeting someone and staying with them because you are too lazy, tired or afraid to jump back into the dating game and meeting your soulmate. A close friend of mine opted to be in an open relationship with what I can only describe as the biggest loser to ever hit the dating scene. As much and as often as I berated her to leave him, she is adamant about staying and says things like, “He’s my best friend” and what not.
After my endless spiels that touched on, “Best friends don’t leave one another out in the cold and demand for open relationships because they want to sleep around”, she finally admitted that she is staying with him because she is too tired to play the dating game.
By hook or by crook, never become so apathetic to the point that you would rather stay with a complete loser, than take the chance to find the best person for you. [Read: Are you settling when you can do better?]
#5 Turn the past into something positive. No matter what happened in the past, you have to put a positive spin on it. You are who you are today because of what you endured in the past.
For example, James, a friend of mine, is now completely put off by the idea of marriage, because he went through a bad breakup with the woman he was so sure he wanted to marry. When they broke up, he slashed the whole idea of marriage from his life plans because, “I met the person I wanted to marry and when she left, I just do not believe in it anymore.”
Keep in mind that James broke up with her when he was 24: a mere child. Even six years on, and with numerous other life experiences under his belt, he is still stubborn in his belief that there is no one else out there.
When I recounted his tale to Marie and Michael, Michael retorted, “Leave the past in the past and be a man about what happened. Why does he have to be such a cynical man-child?”
Although Michael’s comment drove me into a fit of giggles, he is right. If you share a similar tale to James’, turn your experience into something positive and do not let past grievances affect your goals and what you want for yourself. [Read: 10 signs your past is just holding you back]
#6 Learn to speak up. As much as you love your spouse, it is your life too. You have a say in everything that happens. From what color the kitchen should be to where you see yourselves in 20 years, always remember that you have a say in every aspect of your life together.
Always be your own hero and not the sidekick. As easy as it is to be apathetic and let your partner decide everything, stand up and be heard in every situation.
According to Marie, “Even though we come from a different time, I have always spoken my mind. When there is communication, life becomes much easier.” [Read: 7 signs you’re not being heard, and 7 ways to fix it]
#7 Stop worrying about what others think. It is your life to live and no matter how unhappy it makes someone else, stand your ground and do whatever it takes to carve out the best life for you and your partner.
Stop stressing about what people are going to think or say if you get married, have your first kid, have your fifth kid, buy a second home, adopt a potbellied pig and so on. If you are ready to take the plunge in any aspect of your life and have the support of the one person who matters and that is your partner, just do it. [Read: Why you shouldn’t worry about justifying your life choices]
#8 Don’t strive to change your partner. Remember that people change, but they do not change much. Do not work hard to change your partner. They have spent years turning into the person they are today, and the same can be said for you.
Sure, there is no harm trying to be a better person by practicing more patience, being more romantic and slicing out vices like smoking and gambling from your life. However, do not make it your mission to mold your partner into the so-called ideal person, because there is no such thing as perfection. They are human just like you and are bound to make mistakes. [Read: 12 signs you’re being selfish by trying to change your partner]
As Marie said, “Embrace your partner for who they are. Time may take away some traits that you loved 50 years ago, but time also gives back in other forms like companionship, patience and love.”
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