Gratitude,  Lake life,  Memories,  Musings

Sunday Snippet: The Anniversary Edition

It’s our wedding anniversary. Husband and I have been married 51 years today. Last year for our 50th, we took a trip to Oregon and celebrated our day with wine and supper on a beautiful deck overlooking a gorgeous vineyard. It was heaven. Today, we’ll have another kind of heaven, celebrating with homemade flatbread pizzas and a good chianti. Maybe a walk down to the lake in the moonlight.

51 years. Wow…that sounds like a long time. Probably because it is a long damn time. Marriages in this country don’t usually last for over 50 years. We are a nation of disposable everything, including marriages. Folks seem to me to be too willing to give it up when things get hard in a marriage. And yes, things get hard in a marriage. Someone told me once that relationships–marriages, friendships, even family relationships ebb and flow. It’s true and it took me a long time in my marriage to understand the wisdom of that concept–the ebb and flow.

When you’re only nineteen years old and you’ve met the love of your life, you expect everything to be sexy and romantic and well, perfect, when you marry him. He’s strong and handsome and one of the smartest men you’ve ever met (still is). He can do anything, fix anything and is willing to work on any problem (still does). He’s a world-class kisser (still is) and can turn me inside out with a touch of his hand (still does). I married the right guy all those years ago when I was so very young and so lovestruck, no question about that. Mom was wrong when she told me the night before my wedding day, “I give it six months, sweetie.” She was expecting more ebb than flow.

I confess that fifty-one years of marriage hasn’t always been skittles and beer (I really love that description of fun from the old Andy Capp comic strip), but we’ve been more flow than ebb. In fifty-one years, we’ve argued, disagreed, spent time in stony silences, walked out for a few hours, slammed doors, and bit our tongues to keep from saying words we knew we could never take back. There were–there are–hard days in any marriage. I remember reading a quote from an interview with Ruth Graham where she was asked if she’d ever considered divorcing evangelist Billy Graham. She replied, “No, I’ve never thought of divorce in all these 35 years of marriage, but I did think of murder a few times.”

Wise words, although I’ve never considered either because we’ve also talked long into the night to avoid going to sleep angry, held each other close when we needed comfort, taken care of one another when we were too sick to hold our heads up, raised a child together, been proud of one another’s accomplishments, listened, gave advice, kept quiet when necessary, and never stopped kissing and cuddling. We always remembered to say I love you every day–sometimes I say it for me, as I’m sure he does, too, but it’s always there between us, just like the age-old question that is a part of every long-term marriage, “What do you want to have for supper?” Sigh.

Mom was wrong–we’ve made it well past six months. In September 1987, Husband gave me a trip to California to spend my birthday with Mom. Turned out it was only about six months before a massive heart attack took her from us, so the trip was more than a gift. It was the time she and I needed to spend together mending fences, talking endlessly, and for her, after me being married for fourteen years, to say mea culpa. “I don’t know what you’re doing to make it work. And honestly, I don’t get it. But I was wrong and I’m glad for you.” It was a hard admission because Mom hated to be wrong, but I appreciated her acknowledgment that Husband and I had discovered the secret to making a marriage work.

The secret is, there is no secret–you just work at it. It’s give and take, ebb and flow. But I have depended on my grandmother’s words of advice when, 51 years ago, I told her I was getting married. She said, “Just remember, what you see is what you get. Don’t ever think you can change him because you can’t and you shouldn’t want to. If who he is right now isn’t who you want to spend your life with, don’t take that walk down the aisle. Oh, and keep that sense of humor–you’re going to need it.”  Granted, people do change on their own and sometimes marry under false pretenses. Wives and husbands discover that their spouse isn’t the person they believed they were marrying. That can be tragic. I was lucky because although we’ve grown and changed together, he’s still the warm gentle man I married all those years ago. She was right about one thing, though–a sense of humor is critical to a long marriage. With that, I think we’ll sign up for another year. Happy anniversary, Husband, I love you. You’re still the one!

Gratitude for this week: Rain! We needed it. Lovely lunch with my sweet neighbors. Couple of fun editing gigs going right now. Annabelle and Sawyer’s story is moving along–I’m just letting them take it wherever they want to go. Been swimming in the lake twice in the last three days, which is grand but it also means also girl time with Moe–a blessing always.

Stay well, be kind, take a walk in the sunshine–you’ll feel better, and most of all mes amis, stay grateful!


  • Kathleen Bylsma

    Your words are exactly correct on what comprises a solid, happy marriage. I wish you many more years together, anniversaries to celebrate.
    My late husband were together 48 years before he was called Away… we’d still be together today, were he this side of the sod.
    My eldest sister just celebrated their 61th anniversary , last Tuesday, I think it’s going to last
    My other sister celebrated their 37th last week.

    • Nan

      Thank you, Kathleen and my deepest sympathy to you at the loss of your husband. You were on your way to 50 and beyond. Good on your sisters! Long marriages seem to run in your family–how lovely!

  • Roseann McGrath Brooks

    Congratulations! Long marriages are, as you say, a rarity, but I love that they are a witness to what is possible. My parents celebrated 65 years last Ocober (we are so thankful), and my hubby and I celebrated 41 years earlier this year. I wouldn’t change the ups OR the downs.

  • Latesha B.

    Wishing you the happiest of anniversary. I am always amazed by those who last as long as you have. You are what more people need to aspire to.

  • Janine

    Happy Anniversary! My in-laws never liked me and did everything to break us up. But we are going on 25 years together (15 on them married).

    • Nan

      I confess, I wasn’t my in-laws first choice for Husband. I don’t think they wanted him to marry anyone, but especially not some little snip of girl… he did it anyway, and I’m glad! Hugs, baby!

  • Doris H Lankford

    Happy, happy Anniversary! My Mom said almost the same thing to me when I married at 19. We have been married over 44 years.

  • Kathleen Shaputis

    Congratulations on 51 years and still smiling! No wonder your characters seem so real, you understand the concept of love fully.