Just recently my mom and dad enjoyed celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. I remember when it all started, too….
I was about four years old when Mom and Dad married; this being Mom’s second marriage, and Dad’s first. They were married in front of the Christmas tree in the front room of my grandparents’ house; somewhere we even have an old movie of it. I remember little about it except for the cake my grandmother made for the celebration–I kept eying it during the ceremony.
Being a child, I was only aware of my own wants and needs at that time. I knew Dad was a good man; I liked him right away, and soon loved him. He spent time with me, talked with me and gave me his full attention. From the first, I always felt I was an integral part of our three-person cooperative.
I even remember feeling that now I didn’t have to worry about my mom; it was very clear to me even then that Mom and Dad really loved and liked each other. That was a big load off my four-year old mind; I knew Dad would take good care of us both.
At that age, I had no idea of what adults felt like–they were all giants to me. In my world, they took care of everything, and kept me safe. In a few moments, I became part of a larger family; my new grandparents, new aunts and uncles and cousins. But even young children have perceptions; I knew that we were all going to be fine.
When two people decide to marry, they make an unwritten agreement with each other. I can’t speak for my parents’ agreement; I only know that they had one. Mom told me years later that, in considering whether or not to marry my father, she made a list of reasons to marry him, and a list of reasons not to marry him. The reason not to marry side of the list was actually longer than the reasons for marriage–yet she went with her heart. As she once told a friend about Dad, “he’s just so good.” So began a 59+ year agreement.
We laughingly say that ‘the heart wants what the heart wants,’ but it really is true. When the right person and circumstance come along, there is a small but definite click in the heart that says, “this one–this is the one.” Often the heart recognizes what our brains don’t–that this person is the ‘meant to be’ one. This goes light years beyond whether or not the person is good-looking, successful, drives an expensive car, has a huge trust fund, etc. It is the fundamental makeup of that person–the who and the what that that person is.
I won’t go into all the details of my parents’ marriage. Like any other couple, they have had their ups and downs, but what’s important is that, no matter what, they always are for each other and are part of each other. There is mutual respect, kindness, care and love. Together they have faced illness, death, loss, pain; also great joy, success and happiness. They ran both their businesses together for years. Since Dad retired long ago, Mom now runs her own jewelry business out of their house.
So what holds a couple together for nearly 60 years? The statistics show that marriage is a crap shoot–sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes the differences between marriage partners become too vast to stay together. Often unintended circumstances drive a couple apart. Even though we all vow to stay together’ for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health;’ sometimes the marriage does not survive.
You can have the fanciest, most expensive and lavish wedding you like, featuring a dress that cost thousands, exquisite flowers, a professional band and have the ceremony in a ballroom in a luxury hotel. You can present each other with diamond encrusted wedding rings and feed each other a slice of a $25K wedding cake, then fly off to Maui for two weeks for a honeymoon. And yet–the marriage can fail.
Or you can put your trepidations aside, put on your best clothes and marry in front of a Christmas tree with your child present and vow to love and cherish each other always. Sometimes the marriage survives simply because both people are simply GOOD.