What keeps love alive?

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Qcitymetro.com yesterday introduced you to William and Rosa Lassiter, a Rock Hill couple who last year celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

It’s not longevity, though, that makes the couple special.

Spend time around them and you quickly see a love that has endured — even after a series of strokes left Rosa confined to a wheelchair and largely unable to speak.

Her illness, William says, has pulled them only closer.

We asked William Lassiter to offer advice to couples just starting out, and here is what he gave us:

1. Don’t let money divide you. “Most people, their biggest arguments are over money,” he said. “That has never been our problem. Whatever is mine is hers and whatever is hers is mine. That’s the way it’s been.”

Major purchases, he said, always required the consent from both. And each was always quick to forgive the financial mistakes of the other.

“There are just so many young people who desire their independence,” he said. “They don’t want to be told or asked, or don’t want to share for one reason or another. But if you want to say together, don’t let money be your problem.”

2. Let go of anger. Remember the advice about never going to bed angry? The Lassiters have a slightly different spin: Never wake up mad.

“We might have an argument today, but when we wake up in the morning that problem is solved — we are no longer mad with each other,” he said. “It’s not worth it. What are you gonna do, wake up mad again and have a bad day at work or whatever the case might be?”

3. Avoid jealousy. Lassiter said he and Rosa never thought the worst when they saw one another talking with someone of the opposite sex. Trust, he said, is the “cement” to any good marriage.

“Jealousy is a bad thing,” he advised. “It can tear you apart in a heartbeat. We’re not the jealous type.”

4. Different does not equal bad. Lassiter still jokes with his wife that they have little in common. That’s not true, of course, but it once was.

“She wasn’t a great dancer, I was a good dancer. I liked sports, she didn’t like sports,” Lassiter recalled.

What they learned, he said, was to appreciate one another’s differences. For example, he learned to like how his wife planned educational stops on every family vacation, though he didn’t at first. And she, in return, became a huge sports fan.

5. Be on one accord with children. The challenges of raising children can divide couples as quickly as anything, Lassiter said. Couples fight over everything from discipline to how much freedom they should have. The secret, he said, is to be unified as a couple. Agree on child-rearing issues before they become a problem. And don’t let children play one parent against the other.

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