Wednesday, August 24, 2016

42 years and counting. . . Marriage Longevity in progress. . .

I'm slowly doing my best to respond to all the comments on my last post, but today is mine and Pater's 42nd wedding anniversary, so we're heading off on our bikes for the day.  We're both fortunate to come from parents who enjoyed long, working marriages, mostly happy ones. My mom and dad never made it to their 48th anniversary (my dad died shortly before that), but Paul's parents celebrated their 60th with all of us, and had a few years together after that.

I don't think we could have imagined, on that sunny August day 42 years ago, at 21 and 23 (photo of the baby bride and groom in this post, if you're interested) respectively, our older selves so closely approaching the length of my parents' 48-year marriage, but now we're within easy striking distance of that, and it's quite possible we'll manage the marriage longevity of his folks. Luck and commitment and determination and perseverance, if you were to ask for secrets that make it work. Love, of course, but so many couples begin with love and many even part still loving each other. A sense of humour. For us, shared values as well as a willingness and ability to compromise. Honesty, fidelity, trust. Sharing activities but allowing each to have, also, separate pursuits and friendships. A willingness to accept temporary discontent, a wisdom (learned, gradually) to recognise that one is unlikely to be happy all the time. An ability to love a stubborn or angry or depressed partner just as much as an ebullient, nurturing, generous one -- for better or for worse, right?

There's no secret, in other words. But there is constant shifting and adjustment and adaptation and flexibility -- and a sense of wonder at how you're changing, individually, but also in tandem, and yet remaining recognisably the same, river-like perhaps, or like a deeply rooted, ever-growing tree. And luck. I always come back to that. At 21, I don't know that I thought long or hard or wisely about my choice of partner, and we committed to spending our lives together after dating for fewer than three months, were engaged by six months, married in less than a year.

Luck, that is, and what we each brought to the marriage in terms of our individual genetics, personalities, family backgrounds, education, and experience, such as those could be at such a young age. So that I hesitate ever to give advice about what makes a marriage work or even whether keeping it working is good for either or both of the partners in it.  Unquestionably, both of us abandoned or rejected other possibilities at various times of our lives to become and to remain married; individual sacrifices were made along the way; it hasn't always been easy. Yet I continue to believe that my marriage has been the central nourishing and supporting element in my adult life, so far (as a mostly lapsed Catholic, I might even say it has been the Sacrament, conferring Grace, it was consecrated as 42 years ago) but I would only recommend marriage to anyone else with some serious provisos.

There's no doubt at all, though, that I'm celebrating our 42 years together as an achievement and as a continuing joy. The plan at the moment is to pedal through the glorious August weather to various favourite spots in the city, stopping along the way for our breakfast, lunch, and, depending on how the quads and hamstrings hold up, maybe even grabbing our dinner on the way home. There will be no candlelit tables in romantic restaurants, but my undeniably ageing, yet still good-looking, Groom, brought home a bundle of sunflowers and another of fragrant lilies last night.

So off we pedal, steadily and happily, into our 43rd year together. . .

(and in case any of you wondered about my daughter's family in Italy, they slept right through the earthquake, never felt a thing. We're hugely relieved, of course, but so sorry for all those whose lives have been devastated.)

22 comments:

  1. Happy Anniversary, Pater and Mater! You've written wise words about what makes a good marriage - there are no secrets and a lot of hard work. And grace.
    Have a wonderful day celebrating the two of you!

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  2. Lovely, thoughtful post, Frances, and many congratulations to you both on holding true through all the challenges of a long marriage. There are so many rewards for doing so and clearly you have strong foundations and the determination and desire that make your marriage work.

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  3. All the best for the day of pedaling and years more of moving forward together. All I can say to you post re marriage is a hearty 'AMEN'.
    Congratulations!

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  4. You and Paul are an inspiration to those of us who likewise feel that our marriage is the most important part of our adult lives. But know that it ain't always easy, but that it's darned well worth all the trouble. Happy pedaling today...and onward. xo

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  5. Congratulations. What a lovely way to spend your anniversary. It have to agree with all the sentiments on marriage! Here's to the next 42! :) B X

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  6. We've been married since we were twenty & , like most , have nearly come unstuck a few times . It saddens me that many couples give up so easily . If you hate each other then yes , but don't split because you are bored - work at it . You've put into words what many of us feel . There's an old saying - ' Grow old with me , the best is yet to be ' , & it is .
    Wendy in York

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    1. I've remembered - it was a Robert Browning poem
      Wendy

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  7. Happy Anniversary!
    Finding a mate and sharing a life together for 42 years is a testament to you both...1974 was a pretty good year for us too!
    Our wedding was July 20th and yours just about a month apart.
    Enjoy your ride and celebration today!

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  8. Congratulations to you both; your celebration sounds delightful,tailored to make you both happy. As a fellow "lifer", I'd like to add "define happiness together" to your list.(You obviously have done so long ago). Clichés are for greeting cards.

    I woke up to news of the earthquake and hoped your daughter was nowhere near it. So glad to hear she slept through it.

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  9. Congratulations and best wishes!
    You are such a lovely and happy couple!
    Dottoressa
    P. S. So glad that your young Roman family is well

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  10. Happy Anniversary to you both! I love your 'secrets' to a long and happy marriage; we are at 24 years, so far so good. I hope you enjoyed your day, sounds like fun. (Also glad to hear that your daughter and family are fine.)

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  11. You are very fortunate people! Congratulations on 42 wonderful (and occasionally challengiing :-)) years.

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  12. Congratulations on your 42nd! Life is forever challenging and perhaps it takes a warrior/princess to stay the course. It must be a relief that your Italian family is safe and sound. Enjoy!

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  13. Congratulations on your anniversary. Love that you are spending the day biking together.

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  14. I hope you have a lovely, pedally day. Romantic and candlelit is a little forced after many years and we tend to get on better without this. I'd much rather have a sunny sandwich and a beer with the present Mr Green - even if I would often like to land a haymaker on him. I expect he'd like to do the same. The trick, I suppose, is not to land it. 42 years is no mean feat.

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  15. Happy Anniversary!

    Recently a son said he thought our anniversary (a mere 30) remarkable, and I realized he'd seen much less longevity amid relationships in his generation than in mine- and mine, with "no fault divorce" by the 1970s, was far more apt to divorce than my parents'. I summarize "the secret" with, "Both people have to feel lucky". Without the sense that you really have something, the commitment and perseverance don't take root.

    I enjoyed your list of qualities that make a long relationship, married or not, last- and may you continue to celebrate and draw on them.

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    1. Oh, that is so true! Both my husband and I feel lucky to have found each other. We will have been married 43 years this November. Feeling lucky, sharing values, trust and fidelity all play important parts in the success of a marriage. Best wishes to Frances and Pater on their anniversary!

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  16. Such a lovely post! Happy Anniversary!

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  17. Happy anniversary Frances and Pater! Luck, shared values, patience, acceptance of change, and having good models in our own parents all factor in to a good marriage. May you have many more happy years. Brenda

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  18. happy congratulations to you both! what a lovely post to read and event to share :)

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  19. Happy 42nd Anniversary to you both! Thank you for your reflections on being married. our lives continue to be surprisingly parallel. We celebrated our 42nd anniversary in May, marrying at age 21 after a very short time together in college. Being so young, we thought we knew what we were doing but in reality had no idea of the commitment. Yes, there have been difficult times, but also the most wonderful times as well. I feel so immensely lucky and particularly since Mark believes he is equally lucky too. Enjoy your day together.

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  20. Happy Anniversary! Forty-two years together is a remarkable accomplishment and a testament to you both. Mr C and I will be married a "mere" 25 years next month :-).

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