Today we spent an enjoyable afternoon at the 60th wedding anniversary party of a good friend’s parents. It occurred to me that the happy couple have been married ten times longer than we have. Obviously, congratulations are in order at that point. Also, the cake was moist and delicious.
Long marriages like that are becoming rarer these days, with more people having multiple marriages, waiting longer to take the initial plunge, or just not bothering to seal the deal at all, and to think of that makes me a little sad. My husband, Brad, and I married late (his second marriage; I just took a long time to get around to marrying anybody at all), and the odds of us getting to 60 years together are not the best, but seeing people make it that long together still inspires me and makes me glad to have taken on the challenge myself. It also makes me feel a little bummed out for those who are missing out on this experience.
We’re not even the “traditional” family (we shacked up first, no kids together, and I’ve been an often-befuddled stepmom to his), but I am absolutely glad to have made this commitment, especially to (schmaltz alert) my best friend. It makes me a better person every day…a more accepting person who says yes to more of life’s experiences and gradually learns not to let the little things get to me as much…a more determined person who is less likely to give up on something just because I’m not perfect at it…a more loving person who better recognizes the value of family and friends.
I see a lot of divorced people–especially men, for whatever reason–who just seem kind of lost, and I can’t help but wonder whether they wish they’d been able to stay with their exes. My own parents, after decades apart, have found themselves spending a lot of time together in a kind of platonic partnership (at least I think that’s what it is…) that allows them to enjoy their children and grandchildren together and reminisce about the history they share. I’m happy that they’re able to have this experience and can’t help but think they probably both wish sometimes they could have just stuck it out without the lengthy detour.
I guess what I’m saying is that even today, when marriage often seems like an afterthought for most people, when almost everyone my age (including me) has divorced parents, and when the likelihood of anyone making it to 60 years together is getting to be almost nil, I am still very much pro-marriage–“traditional” marriage, gay marriage, whatever. I am for people pairing up and traveling through life together with the promise that they will stick it out. I don’t care if it takes you several tries to get it right. I don’t care if you marry for religious reasons, romantic reasons, or just practical reasons. My grandma was right. You feel connected in a much stronger way when you make it official. I loved Brad before we were married, but when we slid those rings on our fingers at that God-awfully hilarious chapel in Vegas, I felt like we were truly “family.”