Couple shares secrets of their successful 43-year-old marriage

A couple who has been married for 43 years recently shared secrets of their successful marriage. According to the woman, commitment means that if you are in a relationship, and if you want to be what that person, it means you stick with them no matter what– unless they do something crazy like becoming abusive. If he’s weak, I have to be strong. If something happens, I have to be strong until he gets back to where he wants to be.

Samuel and Sandra Eskridge, first met while serving in the United States Army. It didn’t take long for Dad to put a ring on it, and 43 years later they’re still loving life and each other. In a time when people seem not to take marriage very seriously, they have been happily married for decades. These loving couple shared their story on and it will melt your heart.

How did you meet?
Sandra: We met in the Army when I was being shown around Ft. Knox by another officer. He and Sam were friends, so it happened that we were in passing cars. So I stopped, and I looked at him, and I said, “Ooh, he’s cute. I’m gonna talk to him!” And he said, “She’s cute, I’m gonna talk to her!” Because all of my stuff hadn’t gotten in from [my previous station], I would watch the news in the community room. He would usually park on the other side of the building, but that day he came to the side of the building with the community room hoping to see me. He said he was nervous–he said he was like Charlie Brown with the little Red Headed Girl–but when he came in, we must have talked for several hours.
Sam: We talked for at least an hour and a half, and then I wound up asking her out. We went to a concert a couple of weeks later in Louisville and had a really nice time. That’s when we started dating, and the rest is history. Normally, I’m a very shy person with someone that I don’t know. So, it was very tough to work up my nerve to have that first conversation back in the community room, but [Sandi] has a talent of instantly putting people at ease. And we were just able to talk–and talk for a long, long time. I just thoroughly enjoyed it, and we had a great time at the concert. Here we are 43 years later–actually 45 years since that concert, and she’s still putting up with me.

How long were you dating before you knew you found “The One”?
Sam: For me, we met in March of 1974. I knew that she was the one in November ’74 because being at Ft. Knox, it was only about a seven-and-a-half hour drive back Chicago. I’d go back to Chicago every chance I got. Well, Thanksgiving of ’74 I went back for vacation–we had several days off–and I remembered that this time, I could not wait to get back to Ft. Knox to see her. Everything I saw made me think of being with her, made me miss her. That’s when I knew she was the one. Then, I didn’t ask her to marry me until the following March because I wanted to be sure.

You guys have been married for 43 years, what would you say is the best relationship advice you ever received from your parents?
Sandra: From my mom, I got that you should start out the way you’re going to go. That’s the best advice I ever had. I told you that, and I told every other young lady that about marriage. Start out the way you’re going to go.
Sam: I don’t remember receiving any formal piece of advice from either my mom or my dad. What I remember is observing all my life the example that they set in the way that they conducted their relationship. My grandparents were the same way. I saw how they conducted their relationship. The examples that my father and grandfathers set informed me on how I should be in the relationship. The example that my mom and grandmothers set informed me of the type of woman I should be looking for.

Couple married for 43 years share their secret

What does commitment mean to you?
Sandra: Commitment means that if you are in a relationship, and if you want to be what that person, it means you stick with them no matter what– unless they do something crazy like becoming abusive. If he’s weak, I have to be strong. If something happens, I have to be strong until he gets back to where he wants to be. We have to talk with each other–not at each other. When I get really mad, I just won’t talk to him because if I am mad enough, I’m going to say something. You need to be careful of what you say to a person. You don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. You can be sorry but it takes a long time for someone to get over the hurt. We’re committed in that we support each other no matter what. Just like when we wanted to have kids, I told [Sam], “You helped me get these kids and you’re going to help me take care of these kids.”

I know who I am. I don’t need him to validate me. I already did that for myself. But that’s what commitment means to me: Stick together, work it out. Even when it doesn’t seem possible to work it out, stay calm and think and be quiet. When you have a quiet mind you can work things out and you can be committed. It doesn’t mean that you can’t think things, but you can’t be getting married and looking outside for your comforts. If there’s something you don’t like about your spouse, you talk to him and he talks to you. And it really means being forgiving. You have to learn to forgive each other no matter what because there is certainly going to come a time when you get really mad with each other and you’re going to have to learn how to say “I’m sorry” and mean it. [Sam] and I don’t go to bed angry. Now we sit up a couple nights, but we don’t go to bed angry. The one time that we did go to bed angry, we dreamed that we were dead. We had the exact same dream and had to apologize. So from that day on, we do not go to bed angry.
Sam: For me, just supporting her in everything she wants to do. Even if you don’t completely agree with it, support it because you know that this something she feels she needs to do for herself. That’s not to say that you can’t express any disagreements. Say, “I don’t really feel quite sure about this. Help me feel comfortable.” Have that discussion and let the commitment kick in and see how you can help. Or, when you sense that something is needed, do it without asking.
Sandra: We also compromise a lot. I will compromise because it is something that he might need. We’re kind of each other’s best friend. We talk a lot, and we laugh a lot. Also [Sam] is smart. If he was stupid, I don’t think we could be married. I don’t think I would be able to talk to him.

Having been married for 43 years, what is the best advice you would give to a young couple?
Sandra: One is learn to compromise. Second, work together. Third, don’t be critical. Fourth is be forgiving. Fifth is be understanding. Sixth is be supportive of each other. Do all you can to make them–your husband or your wife — happy. A happy husband and a happy wife make a happy life. And even when you’re having hard times, work together. Look to each other for support. Also you have to like the person you’re with. It’s one thing you to love the person, but you have to like them, too. I like [Sam] on top of loving him. There’s not any subject that comes up that we don’t discuss with each other. You have to work together and you have to want to work together.
Sam: And then when you find somebody that you love, all of that becomes much easier. That’s the important thing: recognize when you have somebody that you love. All the things that [Sandi] just mentioned become much easier to do. Even in disagreement. We can support each other’s viewpoints.

What has been the key to staying happy in marriage?
Sam: Just having the commitment to know that you’re going to get through anything together. And then getting through it.
Sandi: When he lost his job. I think he was a little depressed, and I had to work with that. When we did get through it, he said–
Sam: You were like a lighthouse. I told [Sandi] that she was like a lighthouse. So even though I was getting tossed around, I had something that I could focus on and keep me pointed in the right direction. It’s that success of being able to get through the tough times that’s one of the keys to staying happy in marriage–just knowing that the relationship is worth it and taking pleasure from that. Sometimes that’s all you have.

Why do you think your marriage has lasted as long as it has? 
Sandra: One of the things is picking the right person to be with. Love is different in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. I always knew the kind of man that I wanted to be with because if I couldn’t have had that, I made up my mind that I was just going to be by myself because I’m not going to put up with but so much. [Sam] had all the qualities I wanted. If he didn’t we wouldn’t have been together. I wasn’t going to marry just anybody just to say I have somebody. And we laugh a lot. You learn to laugh at each other and with each other. Laughter is very important!
Sam: I think that’s one of the things that has strengthened the relationship. We keep each other laughing.
Sandra: And one of the things that I like about [Sam] is that I have a temper, but he is very patient with me. That’s very important that he is patient with me.

What’s one of the most important things to remember about marriage overall?
Sandra: To know that the person you are with loves you unconditionally.
Sam: Remember that the commitment–the relationship–is always, always, always worth fighting for. Recognize that and keep it going.
Sandra: And I’ll tell you, for us to stay together this long, we had to have faith. And sometimes after church, we’ll just ride out. We don’t have anywhere particular to go, but we’ll just ride around for an hour or so because we just enjoy each other’s company.

What has been the most wonderful thing about marriage for you?
Sam: We still enjoy each other’s company. Wherever we are, we’re going to have a good time.
Sandra: The fact that we stayed married. And the fact the [Sam] is very supportive of what I do. He doesn’t try to restrict me in any way–not that I would let him do it–but that’s really important. When we work together on things, I just know that everything is going to be alright.

Story source:


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