I recently came across this article, <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31452178?gt1=43001>, on my MSN home page. Please go read it and then come back to read the rest of this post. It'll give you a little more insight into what I'm going to write here today.
Last month my Dear Hubby and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. Yesterday as we were driving along I-205 on our way home from Vancouver a little car passed by us and made us chuckle as we looked at the message plastered on the back window, the white ribbons festooning off the back bumper. It said "MARRIED TODAY! 10 YEARS AGO!" I told Dear Hubby, "I bet they think that's a huge milestone, don't you think?" Dear Hubby agreed. Then we were quiet for a few minutes and I stared out the side window doing some fast rewinding of our own lives together. I spoke up again and said, "It sure makes our 35 years look like a lifetime, doesn't it?
And that's just it.
It's supposed to be a lifetime together. Isn't it?
Coming from the generation that my mom did, she was a rare breed of mother for dishing out advice to her daughter, a child growing up in the 5o's and 60's like I did, reaching young womanhood in the early 70's. Back then we still had "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It To Beaver" as our current role models, not as the nostalgic 'Oh my, look at life in the good old days!' reruns the world sees them as today. My mom was a stay-at-home housewife most of my youth until an industrial accident my dad suffered disabled him for a while and she had to go to work when I was around 15 to help keep food on the table. My dad was a typical 9-to-5 dad. We were brought up with traditional values as far as loving God and country and being raised to become functioning, decent human beings.
Under this outside facade lived my mom. Married at 18. Whisked across the country from New England to Washington State not long after her marriage to establish a life out here. She didn't return 'home' for 22 years because we three older kids began coming along right away, our baby brother in 1960, and my parents couldn't afford a trip to New England until 1968. I don't imagine it was easy for her, being just a kid herself, coming from a part of the country so culturally different than the Northwest, not knowing a soul outside of her new groom and her father who'd settled out here ahead of them...he'd served in the Navy during WWII and divorced my grandmother. He was newly married with his new bride, a woman much younger than him, so my mother had all of that emotional angst to deal with, too.
Which leads me to the advice she gave me, starting back when I was just a little girl. "Don't marry the first man who asks you." "Don't get married young." "Don't use marriage as an escape." Can you see thru these words that marriage apparently wasn't the White Knight in Shining Armor fairy tale in her life? My parents' marriage was volatile. It was a difficult one for my brothers and me to grow up in. Somehow they endured. When my mom died in 1989 they'd been married 43 years. When I asked my Dad why he and mom never divorced he looked at me like I had marbles for brains and told me, "Because she was the mother of my children."
Obviously, there was more going on in this marriage than what we children could glean out of it. There was commitment and dedication mixed in with all the friction and discord. There was...somewhere...still love that burned. Dimly. But it was there. My mom died at home from colon cancer and in the last week or two when my dad and oldest brother and I were with her 24 hours per day - with the help of the wonderful Hospice staff - I observed how tenderly and patiently my dad cared for my mother. It didn't matter how many times she called out in the nite...if I was grabbing a few minutes rest in one of the bedrooms I could hear my dad telling her in a soothing voice that he was right there, it was ok.
Now, as to following my mother's advice. I didn't marry the first man who asked me. I didn't use it as an escape from anything. But I did marry young. I was 20 and Dear Hubby was barely 21. I look at kids who are the same age now and wonder, "What were we thinking?!" These kids look like babies to us. As young as we were, tho, he also came from a home with parents who'd been married a long time. As with my parents, his also had their share of problems. But so what?! EVERY relationship on God's green earth has problems. The thing that kept our parents together thru thick and thin was commitment...it was believing in the vows they took on their wedding days. To be together until death parted them. When my dad-in-law died last year my in-laws had been married almost 56 years.
And now I come back to this article. To the taped interview with the author from the "Today" show that's linked on there. I watched that, too. And I looked at this woman who wrote it and I thought, "What a cop-out." So what if, as the years go by, committed spouses become more companions than passionate lovers? So what if you get stuck doing all the day-to-day humdrum stuff? Most of life is routine. Life is cyclical. A veritable merry-go-round of cycles. We come together and sparks fly...we drift along on the current that eddies past us in dips and swirls and calm, quiet water.
I'm sure there are millions of women out there who agree with her. Who go look for greener pastures in an extra-marital affair as she did. There are those who'll read this and vilify me for my old-fashioned, traditional values. But you don't know the whole me...you only know the me who writes here. But I'll fill you in a little about the 35 years I've spent with my husband. We've been thru serious illnesses, no money, no job, deaths of beloved family and friends. We've been thru the joys of raising two wonderful kids. We've had fiery arguments and disagreements. We've been tired of each other. We've been restless and disillusioned at times. But we were both raised with integrity, with the belief in sticking to something to the finish. Not jumping ship when the seas get rough. Not abandoning one another when times get tough. There is something satisfying and fulfilling in coming out on the other side victorious, still being together. Still being in love.