54 Years of Wedded Bliss!
Today marks my parents 54th wedding anniversary. 54 years, together, with one person? What????? Wait, that’s not even correct. The truth is, as the story goes, my mom saw my dad for the first time when she was 13. She claims that she knew from the very first time she saw him that she was going to marry him. So if you do the math, that means she has been in love with one person 61 years. Seriously, I just don’t understand. 61 years!
According to a story that I found on ABC news, only 6 out of every 100 marriages will last over 50 years. While I can’t speak from experience, since I have dated more girls than the years they have been married, I can speak about their marriage from my perspective.
What does it take to be married 54 years? Let’s start out with the most obvious answer. Love. To stay together this long you must fall in love with not only the person’s looks, personality, hobbies, dreams, goals and desires but you must also fall in love with all their flaws. Such as too many hours in the garage or basement, the non stop smell of coffee in the house, hair in undesired places, fumes that resonate from places I’d rather not mention, honey do lists, stubbornness, hours and hours upon hours of “Gun Smoke” reruns, a plethora of “s.o.b. bombs”, a bit of nagging, neediness and a pinch of codependency.
You must also love the other person so much that you put their needs before your own. Doing so includes such things as spending countless hours of cutting boards, driving nails and laying brick after brick to provide the woman you love with the home of her dreams. And just when you thought you were finally done and could relax, having her inform you that she would now like a new color wall, carpet, a screened in porch to replace the open aired deck that you spent half the summer building, a new deck for the pool, a mantel above the fireplace, a garden with a waterfall and a red convertible and a grandfather’s clock. On the other hand it may also means picking up dirty laundry, being stuck by whiskers each time you kiss, sleeping through snoring that could wake the dead, learning to enjoy “Gun Smoke” (again), halter tops, Harleys, the dust from an ATV and many sleepless nights praying that your man will return home from the sheriff’s department in one piece. Putting the other person’s needs before your own also means that you willingly sleep in a chair or on a couch so that you can spend every day together at the hospital in a time of need.
A lasting marriage takes patience as well as learning when to bite your tongue, speak the truth, swallow your pride, apologize, forgive and move on.
Though this list could go on and on, I think the key to staying together 54 years has to be tenacity. Though I don’t know how many times my parents wanted to give up, I do know that they didn’t. Being there, I know that things weren’t always easy but regardless of how bad things got, they decided to stay the course. Part of tenacity is reminding yourself and each other why you fell in love in the first place. Sometimes this means long talks, short walks, a motorcycle ride or a trip to California. Whatever it is, the key is that you find a way to reignite the spark, even when you believe the fire has completely burned out.
Though I will never know what it’s like to be married to someone for over 50 years, I am extremely grateful that both of you do. Words cannot express how much you mean to me. There has never been a time, not even once, where I didn’t feel supported or loved by you both. There has never been one time that I couldn’t call you in a time of need where you wouldn’t have dropped everything to be by my side (although I know better than to try and sleep on your new sofa, Mom). Through all the years, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, you both said, “I do” and meant it. In a world where marriages fail more often than they succeed, thank you for honoring your commitment. May there be many more anniversaries in your future. Happy anniversary!
I love you