What should I get my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary, I asked my lady? “Duh, Goobi (term of endearment), get your ass there and spend some time with them”, she answered. Rina was right. The best gift a child can give their parents is spending time with them.

My trip is a surprise. On the plane ride to Florida my excitement builds, as I write down some thoughts that are running through my mind on what it takes to stay with someone 50 years.

I have spent the better part of 30 years studying relationships, and of course, have had a variety of them myself. I would love to tell you that my marriage is together, but it’s not.  What has come together is the understanding of what we all need to know about holding a “until death do us part” vow.

The list I have compiled was forged from the space of upholding the pledge of “until death do us part”. Everything else in the marital contract, in some form, and at sometime, will most likely not only be broken, but shattered. Are you ready? If so, check out some of the reasons these incredible marriages have lasted!

1. Forgiveness is the only action a couple needs to perfect. Since neither person in the relationship is perfect, imperfections will show up in many forms. None of which will be fun, necessarily, for either person, and for some, those imperfections may seemly be intolerable. Forgiveness is the cornerstone to any successful relationship, especially a marriage, in making it last a lifetime. Everything has to be forgivable to make things liveable!  Mark Twain says “Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that crushes it”. Think about that! Live it! Then you will find it easy and freeing to forgive.

2. Two Lanes: There are only two lanes on the marital highway. One is staying married.  The other one is leaving! You have to choose the staying married lane over and over again. That has to be more important than anything else that happens in the marriage. There is a glory and a story that one can only have by staying in it. There are so many chapters to the story and you have to be steadfast on finishing your book. There will be many tragedies and triumphs throughout your story. There will be times of despondency, as well as, emotional, physical and financial bankruptcy. There will be births, deaths, laughs, and celebrations. All the while, you need to keep choosing to stay in that lane. Those that leave may find incredible loves, but they will never know if their choice was a good one, because they left before the story was over. No one who leaves will ever find out what it would have been like to stay. It’s a huge commitment! Staying is huge! It may end with one or both parties not being entirely happy. However, if either one truly understands the value of holding that space for decades, then, that in itself is an experience that cannot be matched by any other in this world.

3. Courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear! Need I say more? Of course there may be fear, but fear never overtakes either one of you. Fear never dictates decisions. In short, it never wins the war.  Some battles yes, but not the war.


4. Loyalty and Stubbornness: These qualities came straight from the horse’s mouth. When I  asked my father how did you two manage to stay together for 50 years? My father responded, “I am too loyal to leave and Marlene is too stubborn”. After reflecting on that statement and what my father truly meant, it made perfect sense. I call it L.A.F., which stands for loyalty, allegiance, faithfulness. All of these words can be found in the other words’ definitions. They are one in same. One could substitute them for leniency, affection and friendship. Point being is that you have to have many laughs and hold the principles of L.A.F.

5. Never say Never: I have seen marriages explode because one or both parties unintelligently have created a deep seeded belief of what should never be acceptable. I am not suggesting I know your moral compass. I am stating that “I would never stay with someone who cheated on me” along with other such statements, are guarantees that a marriage will not last. In a long term relationship, you have to take things as they come. You have to be willing to see through many different lenses, and have an in depth understanding of the human condition. By saying, “I do” forever, you cannot say “but I won’t put up with this shit…”

I tip my hat to all who have somehow, someway, held their marriages together. Few realize that the relationship they dream of, is just that; a dream. Reality is a long lasting marriage with many nightmares. There is no fantasy. The fantasy is thinking it will be anything less than the most difficult thing you will do in life. However, the more difficult it is, the more gratifying the work will be. The reward from staying in a marriage is not just what the couple feels, but the gift of wholeness that they give to their families, their friends and their community. In a fragmented world with so much divisiveness, married couples give us unity. The more unions that stay intact, the more unions that will be created.

Thanks to all who make it their life’s commitment to grow a successful marriage.



You've gotta have heart

Since February marks the month of love, thanks to a great marketing scheme known as Valentine’s Day, I would like to share with you a wonderful experience I recently had, co-officiating at a wedding.

A wedding at its heart is a uniting between two people, and the ultimate in ceremony.  I could talk about how today, weddings become about everyone else but the couple.  Or how they are about everything else, except the ceremony.  Families battling to get what they want or who they want, but why talk about that insanity?

My recent experience featured a couple who made their wedding ceremony truly theirs.  They accommodated family and guests but never at the expense of their beliefs and the space they wanted to create to seal their commitment to one another.

I cannot begin to explain how profound it was for me to be so close to them at that moment, but I will try.  As I watched them, I realized that everything the two of them had ever done had led them to this moment.

I did have the honor of knowing the bride, Leah, since birth; she is my 1st cousin on my mother’s side.  I remembered random moments of Leah in her parents’ kitchen laughing; sitting in the back seat of a car; playing on the beach; all these moments leading up to this one moment that will define a part of her forever.  I looked at Fane, her husband, and not needing to know his history, I knew it had led him to her.

Watching them look at each other, I saw them recognize the miracle in finding each other. I witnessed them “seeing” one another.  It is a look that cannot be described and it blew me away. In days to come, that look may never be recaptured. It may become clouded by life and all of its challenges. But it will never be forgotten.  For if they can remember it, then they will always be together.

Parties, presents and hoopla are great – the problem is at the time when a couple should be preparing themselves for a life commitment, their focus is on the party!  Aside from your child’s birth, there is no greater moment and nothing as powerful as the moment you are standing beside your partner, looking into their eyes, making a lifelong promise.  Everything leading up to that moment has to be in preparation for it, so that one can live up to the promise they are making.   Sometimes the only thing that can hold together a marriage is that single moment shared together.  You do not want to miss it or obscure it.

This couple and their wedding,  perfectly prepared by themselves, executing with precision the environment they envisioned for their moment of truth.  They personalized the most personal experience that is done publicly.

A marriage needs a witness only because of this magical law of nature: “The observer changes the observed”. Everything we do, with a witness present, makes us more attentive, more aware and more sensitive to our actions.

Therefore, a witness for a couple getting married helps work the couple into a heightened state of awareness that they need when making a life commitment.  I cannot begin to explain how profound it was for me to be so close to them at that moment.

A wedding ceremony has been a practice throughout the history of man.  We seem to have an inherent need to celebrate, articulate, and consecrate to help assimilate the moments and events that are important to us.  Sometimes, yes, we make too big a deal about things – but not when it comes to marriage.


Marriage IS a big deal; make a big deal out of it! Take the time to prepare yourself, focus on the eye contact shared during your ceremony.  Soak in every minute and hold on tight – you are in for the ride of your life!

While you are on that ride, you will need a place to go back to in order to ground yourself.  You will go back to your ceremony and the clarity you had at that moment. It is that clarity and that pledge to one another that gets you through anything, IF you have this insight and knowledge at the time you say “I do”.

Beyond the wedding, vows and preparation, we must understand that if we do not know what love is, any and all relationships will be transitory, at best.

Know that love is sacrificial not preferential. Love is universal and not unilateral. Love is a permanent state of mind, not a temporary emotion.

It is the life’s work for all of us to love. If we love in this way, the heaven we all are looking for will be right here on Earth!