Apr 18, 2009

On Successful Marriages and Closed Mouths

Left: a couple of crazy kids

My wife and I visited my grandparents this evening, and we spent four hours just conversing with these fine people, both of whom are in their nineties and still living on their own in the same house they bought at the end of the Great Depression. I could not remember the year that they married, and I am writing the date down in this post (1936) for my own benefit as well as to publicly marvel at a couple who will celebrate 73 years of marriage in a few months, God willing.

I have written before about keys to making a successful marriage, and while at times I have been far from a hall-of-fame husband, I have managed to learn a few things about what makes a relationship work.

My grandfather, though, possesses an inimitable ability to succinctly describe complex concepts, and he offered this piece of advice on how my grandparents have managed to stay together so long.

"Well, June likes dumb jokes, and I like to tell dumb jokes, so it works out just fine," he deadpanned, and then he provided an even better suggestion: "At some point in every argument, somebody has to shut their mouth to end the fight."

Once again, my grandfather nailed it.

Sometimes we are too proud to back down, or we are so convinced of the correctness of our positions that to end the argument is tantamount to failure. Yet if both parties keep their jaws flapping, the fighting continues, even if the decibel levels happen to decrease.

And as I reflected on this received wisdom, I realized that having the ability to simply shut your mouth can be quite helpful in keeping peace during times of stress or conflict. Conversely, some of the times when I found myself in a fierce struggle with another person had at least something to do with me being insistent on keeping my big mouth moving.

Yes, fair solutions need to be developed for all conflicts, but ultimately a fight cannot end until at least one person takes the high road and shuts the proverbial pie-hole.


Hooda Thunkit said...


Obviously that is advice to live (a long life) with.

I'm still working on it and I'm still learning what your grandparents have long since mastered.

Middle Aged Woman said...

Please thank Gradpa for me for the awesome advice.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes a cynic like me even has to take a break and thank you...all the very best to your terrific grandparents!