• How To Make Love Last

    by Hollye Dexter

    After twenty-one years of marriage, three kids, earthquakes, house fire, bankruptcy, good times and bad and still madly in love, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the “love” business. In fact, I even used to work in the biz back in the late eighties- matching people up through Great Expectations dating service. So when I tell you that yes, love can last, I‘m speaking from experience.

    I won’t say its a cinch. It isn’t. Because in order to have a healthy relationship, you have to work on yourself first – that’s the priority over everything else. When you’re standing strong and confident in who you are, everything else in life flourishes – marriage, children, work, friendships and family.

    Most of us “project” our own issues and needs onto another person, and then feel incredibly disappointed when they can’t make us happy. But first ask yourself if you are truly happy deep down inside. If the answer is yes, then you are probably happy in your relationship. The majority of us live in fear and insecurity, often staying trapped in past disappointments. We expect our spouse to alleviate our suffering and give us that fairytale ending we’ve always seen in movies. Here’s the kicker – that “prince charming” character in the story is looking back at you in the mirror. It’s only after we save ourselves from the dungeon, free ourselves from the dragons of the past, that we can ride off into the sunset with another person.

    The most important thing I’ve learned about relationships is it’s never about the other person changing- it’s about me. My husband and I each had to do our hard work, overcoming childhood hang-ups and lifelong baggage. It was hard, and at times we thought we wouldn’t make it. Sometimes we were weak and took backward steps, but we learned to be kind and patient with each other on this journey to becoming whole.

    I’m not suggesting you wait until you’ve perfected yourself to have a relationship. None of us are ever truly done with our inner work. We are human. To me, the perfect marriage is when you can make that journey to inner freedom side by side.

    How do you do that? First, be patient with yourself, and you’ll see your kindness and patience toward others blossom. Understand that your partner doesn’t see life through the same unique lens that you do, and let that be okay. Try to understand you partner as much as you want to be understood. And when you come into a place of conflict, you surely know one another’s weak spots, so don’t attack. Be especially tender with those fragile places in the soul.

    Take a renewed interest in one another, especially in the interests you don’t share. Celebrate your differences. And above all, as my husband always says, in times of trouble, turn toward each other, never against each other.

    In summation; simply love one another. It’s really that easy.

      • Lori Landau

      • April 17, 2011 at 8:14 am
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      and that hard. this is a quiet acknowledgement of the profound and difficult and rewarding truth of this post…I think it’s a subject that most people don’t talk about much–how difficult marriage/loving can be yet how simple it is. marriage is a second childhood–we grow up, and then we grow up together.

      • on another day I’ll write about how freekin’ difficult it is ( oh yes it is). We went through some make-it-or- break-it times. Hell.
        But we came out the other side by sticking to what I addressed above. “Turn toward each other rather than against each other” – my husband’s words and the best advice I was ever given.

      • Georgie Scarpato

      • April 17, 2011 at 8:27 am
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      Hi Hollye,

      Especially loved today’s blog. In some ways reflects on my life right now. Somehow my husband and I have let our hearts drift apart…..why I rarely mention him on facebook. Long story, but I am at a confused place and although I do not show or share much online, I rely on you and all of my chickees for comfort and wisdom every day….even without you knowing you’re doing it. I do wish we all were closer and I could share and receive more specifically….but for now, I will continue to read everyone’s blogs, posts, comments and take comfort in the strength you all provide. In small ways, you all have changed my life and given me the courage to deal more constructively….and I thank you for that. I do love you all very much….I do ♥

      • Oh Georgie…I do hope you two can find your way back to each other. Nothing is worse than when your marriage is strained. It makes everything else harder ( been there).
        I’m rooting for you!

          • Georgie Scarpato

          • April 17, 2011 at 8:38 am

          Thank you Hollye……I have never given up and will continue to give it my best. The true test will come by the end of the year……I have hope!!

      • Jesse

      • April 17, 2011 at 11:47 am
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      Great column to read on our anniversary. I will remind myself to take extra care in showing interest in the things we don’t share. Thanks J

    • Truth – you’re so good at it Hollye. We need to work on ourselves to be happy in a relationship w/ partners and friends as well. You are the voice of experience. Thank you!

    • Hollye, You are wise beyond your years. I have found through 22 years of marriage that the hardest part of staying married are the little high pitched squeeks followed by a bad oder that comes from under my wife’s part of the blankets in the middle of the night. That’s OK but when she starts snickering without end that makes it unbareable. I have found that you can never underestimate the power of a woman that eats vegatables.

      • Judy

      • April 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm
      • Reply

      So true, Hollye. Yet hard to learn.

    • I’m happy to hear you have weathered the ups and downs after twenty-one years of marriage. I think your point of being able to love another only until you can love yourself is spot on. It sounds as if you’ve done a lot of work individually and together to make your relationship work. Thank you for sharing your insights Hollye. Like you said, just love each other. It really is that easy and sometimes that hard.

    • Twenty one years? Hmm, I might have you beat at 22, Hollye – but it sounds like you are much wiser in the experience than I. Perhaps an advice column is in the offing!

    • You have to be whole yourself, and not look for another person to fill your cracks.

      • Kathleen

      • April 18, 2011 at 8:01 am
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      Brilliant and so true. Be yourself then the paths and people who enter along the way all work in LIFE. Some needing a few tweaks here and there, lol.

      • Christie

      • April 18, 2011 at 10:01 am
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      Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience.

      • David Lacy

      • April 18, 2011 at 10:56 am
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      A precise, straight-to-the-point, and yet still eloquent piece of writing. I LOVED this.

      • Sivan

      • April 18, 2011 at 11:28 am
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      A piece after my own heart Hollye! Great work!

    • Thanks everybody! I’m going on 22 years with my husband, and although we almost separated twice during those years, I love him more than ever. I loved the cute, fun, sweet guy I married, but I am crazy in love with the man he’s grown to be. I’ve cried more tears over that man but every one was worth it. And wow- I walked into the marriage thinking I knew it all, and spent the next two decades unraveling everything I thought I knew. Thank God for therapy. : )

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