Celebrating a marriage milestone: communicating through the odds

by Betty Lochner on June 30, 2011

This week,  I am soaking up the sun on the beautiful island of Kauai with a Mai Tai in hand, and celebrating a milestone with my husband of 33 years.

Now, you might be thinking I don’t look like I have been married 33 years, and you would be right. But, I digress.

Sometimes Ken and I lament over how we have stayed together this long against the odds.

We got married very young.  I was 19 and Ken was barely 21. We met on a college choir trip to England over a summer, got engaged on Halloween, and married the next summer.  In remembering our day, he will be the first tell you I made him wear a baby blue tux  (that he has never really forgiven me for, but it really did look great with his blue eyes).

We took a 3-day honeymoon to Canada and came back to the middle of summer school. During our first year of marriage we were both seniors in college. And if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, we soon figured out that we are not a lot alike. Ken is an analyzer-type. He must process and research and discuss.  I am more of the ready-fire-aim type. Let’s get it done and ask questions, maybe even get permission, later. He is a neat nick; I am a slob. He is an elementary music teacher;  I run a billion dollar program. He’s a republican; I’m a democrat. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So how has our marriage made it through jobs, and kids, illnesses, and the nitty gritty of living daily life together?  Here are some of our lessons learned:

1) Talk about expectations openly and honestly and be able to articulate that clearly.  In other words – don’t assume anything.

2) Focus on what you appreciate about your partner, not what bugs you. Tell him daily what you love about him.

3) Learn how to work through conflicts. We all start out better at screwing up relationships than repairing them.

4) Remember you can only change you. Work on your behavior, and how you respond, rather than trying to change his.

5) Keep your sense of humor.  You will need it.

It’s not been easy. We struggle to communicate effectively daily.  We work hard at it and hold each other accountable.  And, most important, our relationship is not as much about what we don’t have in common as what we do.

We love and serve our God together.

Happy Anniversary, honey.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:


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1 Tammy Redmon June 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm

First let me say, Congratulations!! And you are right, I would have NEVER guessed you’ve been married 33 years! Way to go!

I love that you are weaving communication strategy into your anniversary celebration. It is so imperative that we remember to use effective conversation with our partners. My husband asked me early in our marriage why I was nicer to the people at church than I was to our he and the children at times. OUCH! That’s because, I was effectively communicating with the stranger and friends and blowing it with my own family.

It was my wake up call. (Hence, your #4)

Thank you for sharing these great tips and for allowing us to celebrate you anniversary with you!

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