Salzburg was even more romantic than I remembered. It is easy to imagine a young woman being swept off her feet in such an enchanting place. The cobbled streets are narrow and have many hidden enticing alleys to explore and discover. Couples are mingling and sipping wine outside the numerous small shops. The fortress provides a spectacular back drop against the baroque architecture. Salzburg’s “Old City” is a World Heritage Site as this vibrant city should be cherished.
It is here 27 years ago that I met my husband. In the International Youth Hotel on New Years Eve while dancing on the tables. After a few dates of sharing apple struddle and skating under the stars, I was invited to join him and his best buddy, Doug. To continue travelling through Europe in their VW van. Gas was very expensive then, due to the Iraqi War, so to this day Gene says it was because they needed gas money. May be true, but gas is now cheaper and I am still here.
Much has changed in the past 27 years.
After exploring Europe’s back roads for another 3 months, the van broke down in Portugal and it was time to return home. I went back to my small prairie town and within a week I had bought a one way ticket to the west coast. Never to look back.
We travelled more, went to school. Graduated and formed careers that provide us with the means to live a life of comfort and adventure. Both around the world and in the mountains of our beloved island. Bought a house in a community we love. We married in our backyard 11 years into the relationship. We now have 2 wonderful boys that inspire us to stay young and remain curious.
Love has been glorious.
But not all the time.
There are the amazing views as you stand on the mountains’ summits together, but there is also the deep dark valleys and canyons where it is easy to get lost.
The moments when you are so in love you feel like your heart will burst. Then the dark days where you wonder what the hell happened? As with any adventure, there is struggle and strive. It is all too easy to focus on the hardship and get lost in the cold dark valley. To be fogged in having forgotten your compass. Sometimes it may even be necessary to get lost in order to appreciate the beauty that can be seen above.
Either way, it is vital to find your heart’s map and climb out. Sometimes you may need to be the leader, climbing out first and providing the anchors for your partner. Or you may be the one holding onto the end of the rope. Letting your partner lead the way. Dig deep, persevere and look for the strength that can be found in your spirit. Hold faith in yourself and that of your lover. Show compassion. Find that place in your heart that promotes love and growth.
In my career as a nurse I often care for elders. Many being married for 50 years plus. I always ask, “what is the secret to a lasting marriage?” I have been given many an answer.
“Have common hobbies.”
“Never go to bed angry”.
“Go to bed angry.”
“Always allow for a second chance.”
“Hold hands everyday.”
“Go on separate vacations.”
“Beer and buddies.”
“Friendships that support.”
“Kiss and hug often.”
There is no one answer. A couple must find their own glue that will bind them together to support a lasting marriage.
Things that matter take effort.
First ask YOURSELF what your own needs are? What can I do MYSELF to fill up my own cup? Take care of your own inner spirit. Don’t expect that someone else will or can do this for you.
Then ask your lover what their dreams are? Truly listen and support them in the ways that they ask of you.
Manage expectations. Be realistic.
Remember no one is perfect. Including yourself.
Together, make a nector list. The accomplishments and life experiences that have made you both who you are independently and as a unit.
Then make a bucket list. Determine how and when you will achieve these dreams.
Check in often. Communicate.
Never stop believing in yourself or your partner.
Life is not always easy, and a lasting marriage is not either. Nothing is constant, and nor should individuals be. If one never changed, life would be much too mundane and boring. Staying curious and striving to better one self should be a life long goal. This includes encouraging your partner to be the very best person they can be. To show compassion, understanding and forgiveness. To promote change. To listen and support the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.
Keep hiking and climbing. Break through the clouds. For there is always another summit to climb where you can stand together. To soak up the glory that can be found there.
To look back at what has been with admiration. Hold those memories close and find strength in them.
To look forward with joy and wonder. To dream. Holding hands.
Forever cherishing one anothers’ hearts.
Just maybe we will be back to Salzburg in 2041. To celebrate 50 years of love.