Last Wednesday, my grandparents celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary over glasses of wine and delicious food. October 8, 1960 – 54 years, you guys. That is incredible.
“In 54 years, the word ‘divorce’ has never been brought up. The word ‘tolerance,’ however, is key.”
As a young adult, I swore off marriage. My parents have been married and divorced twice. I have two half-siblings. I know what it’s like to grow up with stepparents, neither of which I was particularly fond of. (I’ve developed a better understanding of them as I’ve gotten older, but our relationships have always been strained at best.) How can you promise your entire life to one person? I just couldn’t comprehend this idea.
“[Our marriage] wasn’t always being being ‘happy’. Some times were not happy and we had hardships, but we had to realize this is a process and we muddled our way through by taking one day at a time.”
Thanks to positive role models like my grandparents, I know that a long lasting healthy marriage is possible, though not easy. At 34 years old, my grandfather had open heart surgery. He was not expected to live to 40. Forty-three years later, Poppie is literally a medical miracle. That surgery and recovery was difficult on their marriage, not only physically but financially and mentally as well. But they struggled through.
“Right or wrong – we both just did whatever it took to keep us together.”
Nana and I were chatting one day as she gave me a hair cut. We started talking about marriage and she unknowingly gave me the best piece of marriage advice that I’ve heard to date. She told me to always put your husband first, especially over your children. At first I wondered to myself what kind of old fashioned marriage mumbo jumbo she was telling me. But as she continued, I began to understand.
You have children with the understanding that you’ll raise them and one day they’ll embark on their own lives and have their own families. When your children leave the nest, you’ll be left with a husband and if you haven’t taken time to cultivate a loving and lasting relationship with your husband, you won’t have anything left once your children are gone.
She also encouraged me to always keep my own sense of identity, don’t ever get totally lost in your husband and children. You are not just So-And-So’s wife or Such-And-Such’s Mom. You are Erin, a smart and independent woman with your own set of interests and hobbies.
“We have learned to pick our battles and have given in even if one or the other of us knew were were right.”
As Adam and I prepare for our own marriage, I’ve kept Nana and Poppie’s advice in mind. Not every day together is wonderful, but together we can make every day wonderful. Adam is my favorite person in the whole wide world. I love and respect him trememdously. And sometimes, especially on the off days, I have to remind myself of these things.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeing, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor 13
There’s a good reason those words are read at so many weddings – because they are so true. Happy Anniversary, Nana and Poppie! Cheers to a lifetime of love.
What’s the best marriage advice you’ve ever been given? Who are your marriage role models?