We were recently interviewed by a former student, Dan Kamys, who is now an editor at fitandfabliving.com, a web site for young adults. This week we offer a second excerpt from the interview. The first part of the interview was published last week.
Editor’s Note: We recently got the chance to talk to Bob and Rita Boeke, authors of Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime and The Wonder of Marriage Blog about how young people can navigate today’s sometimes confusing world in search of their partner. They have been married for over 40 years, so they know a thing or two about making relationships last.
(Dan)My parents have been married 30 years, you two have been married a bit longer than that I gather, and sometimes I just can’t see myself being married that long. What do you think couples should do to keep the spark going? What do you two do to keep the spark going?
(Bob) To respond to your comment about not seeing yourself married that long: You don’t have to worry about staying married that long. We’ve lived together over 46 years – 1 day at a time. Now I look back and wonder where the time went – we seem to have been married forever, but it seems to have gone by quickly. On our wedding day, we committed to spending the rest of our lives together and never doubted that we would do so. I’m not sure if the following makes sense to someone who doesn’t have some experience of it. We always work at keeping our communication open and being willing to face issues and work them out. Over time that has developed into a great sense of intimacy – I know things about her and she knows things about me that we would not share with anyone else. When we need to clear the air (yes, we still do) we can have a fight, confident that tomorrow we will still be together to enjoy each others’ humor and make love again. We try always to laugh together, sometimes cry together. We both read a lot and share with each other, sometimes a whole book or a passage or an idea from it. We try to get away from the every day and have time to focus just on us. We like to travel to new places and in the process learn about the places, but also each other. We work to always have dreams for the future and to share and plan to make them become a reality.
(Rita) I think couples need to recognize that marriage is a journey. Sometimes there will be potholes and detours but most of the time it is full speed ahead. The potholes and detours require trust and commitment. They are what make the easy parts happen as well. Too often people don’t recognize that we all change until the day we die. That person that I married is still the same, but much of him has changed, developed and grown as he has journeyed through his life, both with me and with the things he has done by himself. My advice is to embrace change either when it happens to you and when together and separately each must make changes. Our culture today tells us to change partners – we say change the activities of your marriage. There has to always be something you haven’t tried together or something your have been doing to which you add a new twist. The secret is to keep joy as part of your marriage. Bob is my best friend, my confidant, my biggest cheerleader, my teacher, my lover and my spiritual companion. His love challenges me to grow in all aspects of my life and I believe I have done the same for him. I still can’t imagine my life without him and yet when I think we have accomplished everything we set out to do I am pleasantly surprised where our love takes us.
(Dan) What made you want to write the book?
(Bob)For many years we worked with married couples, presenting workshops and inspirational talks. Often a couple would say to us: “You two should write your story” or “If you write a book, we’ll buy it.” For many years the subject would come up occasionally and we would agree that, some day, maybe we’ll write a book. About 10 years ago our children were visiting us for Christmas and gave us a book on “How to write a book” and said: “Mom and Dad, it’s time to get started.” That got us to be serious about starting and the following summer we began to write. Once started, we found the process to take much work, but we very much enjoyed looking back at our lives together and remembering the good times and the tough times. We found that we had each grown and changed for the better as individuals and that our relationship had grown, too. We recognized how important our marriage has been in making us who we are today and allowed us to celebrate our individual and couple growth and accomplishments.
(Rita) When we first started to do marriage enrichment activities I never thought about writing a book. We just felt privileged to be able to tell our story and see it affect others. As people began to tell us we should write I began to say “maybe some day.” We had too many other things going on in our lives to give it much time and attention. Our children’s gift was a nice surprise and the impetus to getting us started. It was a wonderful challenge, called us to great vulnerability, much trust and helped us to fall in love all over again as we wrote our stories and read them to each other. I think every married couple should go away at some point or at various points in their marriage and maybe use our topics and write, perhaps figuratively, their own story.
We took the advice of a friend as we began to write to look at what was out there. We were amazed to discover that few books on the topic of marriage and relationship were actually written by a happily married couple committed to each other for a lifetime. Books written by a couple usually meant that one or both were psychologists or ministers. All well and good but often not with real practical lived experience. We just decided to tell our story and then give hints, tips and things we learned along the way with questions for couples to discuss as they journeyed together in their marriage.
(Dan) What message do you hope people get from reading the book?
(Bob)We share our story in the book, but our hope is that doing so will help couples to learn more about themselves and their relationship. We also hope that some of the lessons we’ve learned in growing together will help others to also grow together. It’s never about us. We have questions for couple discussion at the end of each chapter. The first question is always: “Where did I find me/us in Bob and Rita’s story?
We also want to be a source of hope, especially for younger couples. We have been together a long time (46 years) and are continuing to have a ball. We are our favorite traveling companions, we make each other laugh every day, we continue to enjoy touching and being touched and having a physical relationship, we share our hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, and life is good.
(Rita) My hope in our throw away world is that couples can see that there are things that do indeed last forever. They require us to care for them, to brighten the tarnish from time to time, to recognize that this thing called marriage is an amazing experience to enjoy. Along the way that we have been married we have been fortunate to recognize that there are things that could help us strengthen the commitment we made to each other. They included a weekend retreat, various workshops aimed at couple communication both verbal and physical. We read lots of things, mainly books, and surrounded ourselves with couples who were trying to do what we were doing. That is my hope for our book; not that couples will know us when they finish reading it but that they will know themselves and their marriage in ways they didn’t before. We see it as a workshop in print, not a novel to be read. Optimally, we recommend that couples sit together read a chapter of the book aloud to each other and then take whatever time necessary to work through the questions. It could take weeks, months or even years. I think it also offers the possibilit of reading over and over as couples change and grow. Marriage is organic. It needs tender loving care and I believe our book and our blogs can be part of that care.
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