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Pam, my wife, and I were married when we were both 41. At that age, our family and friends naturally thought we knew what we were doing. But, looking back, we could have used some marriage counseling like every other “young couple” getting married in 1984 – even though we both knew personally what it was like to live with disability and vulnerability.

These are the questions we could have asked ourselves back then: Is this a resilient relationship? Are we really ready for a lasting commitment? Do we each have the personal qualities to withstand the real, hard difficulties that life often brings – situations we can’t envision while we’re still young and spry?

Now that I’m 80, I keep hearing stories of resilience in other couples. The 90-year-old “life learner” who managed the care of his wife with dementia while she was not able to speak one word to him for seven years. The 65-year-old woman who is working full time as a restaurant receptionist and then going home to care for her husband, who has had a stroke, and her brother, who has a developmental disability.

Making a lasting commitment to another person may boil down to choosing a caring companion who is resilient and who knows how to communicate on a personal level.

* What have you learned over the years about making lasting commitments to others?

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