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The secret to a healthy marriage

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

My wife Denise and I recently celebrated 45 years of marriage. It’s interesting that the media insist on knowing about the secrets of a happy marriage.

Well the first thing is that there are no secrets. There is a lot of available research on how couples have remained married for long periods of time so I will add to that, with our own experiences.

For our anniversary, we pulled out our wedding pictures. It reminded us of the “spark” and excitement of not only getting married, but of our first encounter with each other.

I was smitten with this beautiful young girl with so much personality, energy and sense of social justice. As time rolls on we sometimes forget, or even take for granted, those things that initially attracted us to each other and helped us to grow as a couple.

It is important to have a sense of humour if your marriage is to survive.

There was once a study done on what men were looking for in a possible partner. What do you think was the most mentioned and the most important thing men looked for in a woman? You might imagine intelligence, education and all sorts of physical characteristics, etc.

But surprisingly most men mentioned that a woman had to have a good sense of humour.

Similarly women took the same survey. Again, what do you think women were looking for in a future husband? Physical traits, money, a steady job, education, etc. were all mentioned, but the most important characteristic? A sense of humour was tops again.

While talking with friends about our initial attraction to each other, I mention that my wife’s family had a wonderful cottage, and Denise retaliates that I had a red Buick Convertible and “Paul Newman” eyes.

Those eyes are little droopy now and hidden behind bi-focals, but I still drive a beautiful vehicle, but it’s a Toyota Sienna van.

It also helps to have similar interests.

My wife and I have gone on several cruises, explored different countries, we both love music and love to go to concerts, and socialize with family and our friends. I’m sure the fact that we both came from parents who were church-going and taught us about marriage through their examples was an added advantage.

Today we have four great sons, and four wonderful grandchildren, and today that is the source of our greatest interests together.

We’re still best friends, and like best friends, sometimes things are not perfect.

Sometimes, being married you have to have a lot of patience in many different ways. I learned that early on in our marriage at the birth of our first son. My wife was in labour for over 17 hours, but when little Chris made his appearance we were both ecstatic.

I was astonished that just an hour after delivery, Denise was on the phone sharing the good news with our family and a few of our closest friends, while I was still recuperating.

Some of my friends at the time of our marriage were looking for partners to make them happy. I know when I met Denise I wanted to make her happy.

While dating, Denise was still young, and needed a break from our relationship. I didn’t like it, but regardless, if that is what made her happy so be it.

We found a few months later that we kept running into each other at different events, so it eventually became inevitable we were happiest spending time together, rather than apart.

I think good communication is key. Allowing your partner to pursue his or her own interests is also very important. My wife enjoys going to “open mics” at a local club. I don’t have the same musical talent and have told her I have other things I would like to do those nights. No problem.

Finally researchers at Bath University in England found in a study of over 1,500 couples, if the man is five or more years older than the woman, the odds of marital bliss are highest. Makes sense now.

If you have any “secrets” you would like to share, I’m at “”