40 Year Anniversary

Can you believe that the U.S. presidency was transitioning from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan just over four decades ago? Or that the world was mourning the death of John Lennon? Do you remember the new Pac-Man and The Empire Strikes Back releases?

Maybe most of it is a blur because you were busy with wedding planning at the time and, who could blame you?

A new chapter was just starting, and it either feels like a lifetime ago or just yesterday. Either way, your marriage is now approaching a significant milestone, and you deserve to celebrate the beginning of yet another new chapter. So, we’ve got a 40 year anniversary guide that’ll inspire you with traditions, tips, and travel.

40 Year Anniversary Facts

  • Anniversary Stone/Material: Ruby
  • Anniversary Flower: Gladiolus
  • Modern U.S. Gift: Ruby
  • Traditional U.S. Gift: Ruby
  • Traditional U.K. Gift: Ruby
older couple holding hands

How Many People Reach their 40 Year Anniversary?

If you happened upon our 40 year anniversary guide, you might be preparing to celebrate the big 4-0. To many people, it’s awe-inspiring to see couples like you and your spouse stick to your “for better or worse” vows for four decades.

Compared to some couples, though, you’re still newlyweds. Quite a few partners have logged twice as much time, hitting the 80th anniversary mark. Can you even imagine it at this point? Of course, when you celebrated your silver anniversary, 40 probably seemed like a lifetime away.

So, just how many couples achieve ruby anniversary status?

You’ve got a way to go before 80 arrives. But you’re still in an elite group, as not even a third of couples achieve 40-year status.

Up-to-date figures aren’t entirely accurate, as the U.S. census bureau doesn’t publish anniversary reports regularly. However, we know that more than a third of marriages make it to 25 years, but only an estimated 6% goes for the gold with 50 years and counting.

Between 25 and 50, the kids are usually out of the house. When empty nest syndrome sets in, separations rise.

Marriage longevity

There’s good news, though, as the divorce rate has been steadily declining since 2011.


From 2018 to 2019, divorce filings dropped by more than 5%, which is significant. So, it’ll be pretty interesting to see stats 40 years from now when today’s newlyweds are part of the 40-year survey.

40 Year Anniversary Gifts

You know the drill by now. Every year there’s a new way to commemorate your anniversary with traditional and modern gift themes, gemstones, and flowers.

While you’ve got a manual to follow every year for the first 25, the formula switches to every five years, starting with the 30th anniversary. You might not have a theme for 39, but you do for 40, and it’s ruby.

Ruby represents 40

Ruby is modern, traditional, used in the U.S. and the U.K., and the designated gemstone. The Jewelers of America don’t even provide a back-up plan for the 40 year anniversary. So, if you like to take the conventional route, it’s all about the ruby.

The ruby is more than just a symbol of romance and love. It’s a gem representing inner fire, or red hot passion. Couples celebrating 40th anniversaries undoubtedly possess a combination of all these characteristics or wouldn’t enjoy the sweet longevity of the ruby milestone.

We’ve got some incredible ruby-inspired gifts in our 40 year anniversary gift guide. Plus, we’ll embrace the ruby as inspiration for some activities and experiences later in this anniversary guide. This is a fiery red jewel that should spark plenty of creativity.

A florist order for 40 year anniversaries

While ruby is the primary focus for 40 anniversary gift-giving, there’s a second traditional symbol, and that’s the gladiolus.

We think the gladiolus is an unusual choice for this particular milestone. This specific flower is typically associated with infatuation. But you can take it as a reminder that, even after 40 years, you can still get those little butterflies in your stomach when you think of your partner.

If you’re gifting a couple with the official 40 year anniversary flower, ask your florist to put together a red-themed bouquet. Red gladioli not fit the bill for the ruby celebration but are a much more elegant choice.

Unique Ruby Anniversary Celebrations

Nothing is set in stone with ways to celebrate anniversaries. While some people prefer to stick to parties for the silver and gold milestones (25th anniversary and 50th anniversary), 40 is a significant number. You might choose to do it up big and rent a venue or plan for a big dinner with family and friends.

We thought we’d highlight a different approach, though, with a few memory-making vacation ideas for you and your spouse. Rubies are red hot, and your anniversary trip can be as well.

Take a Fire and Ice Tour in Iceland

Iceland is anything but the same old, same old. Within 40 years, you might have enjoyed a cruise, Disney World, and Hawaii. But have you ever considered Iceland? It’s time to make some new memories, and this particular excursion is going to do the trick.

Contiki Tours has a six-day Iceland Fire and Ice Adventure. You’ll head to Reykjavik, Midgard, Vik, and Skaftafell. Your photo album will be filled with shots of waterfalls, volcanoes, and glaciers. There’s even a rooftop hot tub in Midgard where lucky guests have caught glimpses of the Northern Lights.

Focus on fire only at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa

If you prefer to stick to the red hotness of the ruby, the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Wisconsin is an idyllic setting.

The cozy fire pit on Embers Terrace will keep you warm and toasty as you take in the beautiful golf course backdrop, complete with a lake and forest. Of course, you might not even notice your surroundings as you rekindle your enduring romance.

Grand Geneva is a AAA Four Diamond resort with a spa, golfing, fitness center, and villa rentals.