Today would have been the 71st wedding anniversary of my parents. We would have had a big celebration if they were still alive.
On this date, in 1941, my parents were married at St. Michael’s Church in Derby, CT. Their marriage wasn’t always an easy one. Six months after they were wed my dad was drafted into the U.S. Army and for the next five years served his country in the European theater of operations. During that time my mom worked in a factory making parts for wartime aircraft. Two years after my dad returned home I made an appearance and the two became three. Throughout the years I watched them navigate the hurdles of life: buying a new house; raising a child; my dad’s place of business closing and his finding a new job; my mom going back to work; their relationships with various family members; my dad taking a second job; their growing old together; helping each other through various illnesses; their love for each other (sometimes difficult to spot); and their desire to make things better for their daughter.
When my dad passed away in 2001, it was one month after their 60th anniversary. My mom was devastated. Her world had been ripped apart; she was never the same afterward.
In a conversation I had with my dad a few years before he passed away, he expressed his hope that he and my mom had set a good example for me with their marriage. I assured him that they had. Seems that was the best thing that he felt he could give me.
This year I will be celebrating forty years of marriage with my husband and best friend. Yes, there have been mountains for us to climb over. But those tough times have made the good ones so much sweeter. We’re not perfect, but then again neither were my parents.
To be honest, my husband’s parents also were married a long time. They were wed in 1940 and had celebrated 64 years of marriage before my mother-in-law passed away in 2004.
So what, if anything, is the secret(s) to the longevity of marriages in our family.
- Love – without it there can be no marriage. It is the foundation on which the marriage is built. The strength of the love (foundation) is what will shore up any cracks that happen over the years.
- Commitment – to make a marriage work there must be commitment from both parties. Most times the partners work together. But there are times when one or the other will put in more work based either on their skills or their ability. Marriages without commitment are the food that divorce lawyers thrive on.
- Honesty – This is a tough one, especially when one party seeks to keep unpleasantness from the other. But through observation and experience I’ve found that it is better to get things out in the open and deal with them together. Two people working towards the same goal make the burden easier to bear. When something is wrong it has a tendency to produce sleepless nights; but if that problem is shared with your spouse you can both rest a bit easier knowing that you are not alone in facing that problem.
I could go on with lots of other values and virtues but to me Love, Commitment, and Honesty are the three most important ‘secrets’ to a long marriage. If my parents were here today I’d wish them a Happy Anniversary and wishes for seventy more years together. In my heart I know that they are together in Heaven and hopefully they are sharing their love with the angels.
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad.