For those who are reading this and have not even reached the age of forty yet, you may think forty-seven years is a long time. When I was young, anyone over twenty seemed old to me. Then I became twenty and by that time I had been married a year. I felt pretty grown-up then and was expecting a baby, so I was officially an adult. Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our forty-seventh wedding anniversary. Just three years shy of fifty years. How did we get here? How did our marriage last when so many marriages fail?
I don’t have any secret formulas. There were times I could have left my husband because I was immature and was only thinking of myself and how things were affecting me. I am sure there were times he would have liked to have just shucked it all and given up, but he didn’t and as a man of few words, I never knew if he ever was unhappy. But, we stuck it out. We stood together through the hard times and now we are reaping some good times and feel it was all worth keeping it all together.
Love has a lot to do with. I cannot think of a time when I didn’t love my man. Yes, he can make me exasperated sometimes, but I can be pretty exasperating myself. We raised three children together and if you have ever raised teen-agers, you know that can be one of the most stressful times in any marriage. Teen-agers try their parents and parents need to present a united front, but sometimes it didn’t happen that way and I blame myself for that. I didn’t like to be the one doling out the discipline, but it usually turned out that way. We made it through the teen years with a few scars, but our marriage still solidly in tact. We have watched our children grow into adults, make some pretty poor choices at times and good choices in others, but still making us proud in so many ways and we love them all so much.
Forty-seven years ago I walked down the aisle at a little Methodist church where David and two pastors stood. We had two pastors because we had just gotten a new pastor and I wanted our old pastor to take part in the ceremony as I had pretty much grown up while he was our pastor. So both pastors took part in the ceremony. I was shaking in my white satin shoes and don’t remember a whole lot about it, but suddenly the pastor was saying, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride,” and I knew it was a done deal.
That night we stayed in a little motel on our way to Traverse City, Michigan for our honeymoon. The next morning the motel owner presented us with a gift of new bed sheets which I thought was so nice. The honeymoon was spent with David’s relatives and we had the most fun. Plus I had to keep pinching myself that I was now responsible for myself, I was truly a grownup and free from my parents’ control. Anything I did after that was going to be on me. We boated, swam, walked the streets of Traverse City where the Cherry Festival was going on, eating French fries splashed with vinegar. We went to the city zoo. I met lots of new relatives. We ran around all over town in our little Volkswagon bug enjoying the scenery and just being together. We even got stopped by a policeman because David ran a red light accidently, but he just gave us a warning.
Back to reality and sharing a life together began. I worked at a Stucky’s saving money to continue college. David worked at a factory. We lived in a little apartment in the middle of the small town where I grew up. There was a pinball room directly below our apartment and we would go down and play pinball. Then we discovered I was pregnant a month into our marriage and we needed to look for a bigger place to live, so we bought a tiny house outside town in the country and set up housekeeping. The house had a tiny bedroom, a tiny living room and a tiny kitchen. I was so proud of it. I enjoyed cleaning it and arranging the furniture as much as it was possible in such a tiny space. We celebrated our first Christmas there and the next Spring, our first son was born. Then we had to look for an even bigger house because eight months after the first son was born, we were expecting again! We found a big house on top of a hill in Richmond and again I set up housekeeping in my bigger house. We had enough bedrooms for us all. Then our second son was born and I was busy. David had begun working for the military by then and was in the military for thirty-seven years.
And so the years passed swiftly. One year the boys and I went to Grayling, Michigan to camp with David while he attended guard camp for two weeks. It was there that I had a sneaking suspicion I was pregnant again. I kept telling David I thought I was, but he said I was just imagining things. Well, he was wrong! I was, again pregnant and nine months later we had a little girl. Having a girl was so different from having boys, but I loved it. Dressing her up in all the cute clothes. I was so happy on our hill with my three children. I was also caring for two other children and keeping busy and happy.
Then one day David came home and told me he was being sent someplace else and my world fell apart, or at least I thought it had. I was going to have to leave friends and family and go some place where I knew no one. Our children would have to go to a strange school. I was not happy about the move. David and I took one weekend to find a new house which is the one where we now live. I wanted an older fixer upper with some character and some land. We got it all with this house, but I must say we have been fixing it up for the last thirty-eight years and still have more we want to do. We made the move and I cried for days. By and by things got back to normal, I met people and found a church and got the boys in school and they seemed to thrive so all was good.
We have seen so much through the years. I could write an entire book about our life as a couple and what all we have done together. We have traveled in almost all fifty states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands,Canada and Mexico. We raised our three children to adulthood and they are productive members of society. We have seen loved ones and friends pass away and babies born into the family. As the song says, “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the days. One season following the other….” Our seasons have flown by. Here we are the elders in our family now and we still love life, God and family and look forward to more years together, but if it should all end tomorrow, I can say we have been blest and have had a wonderful life. Just remember if you are married right now and think you cannot make it to forty-seven or more years, you can if you decide to and learn to love and care for one other person more than yourself. That is what a wife and husband are to do. A young man told us the other day that not many marriages make it as far as ours. I find that sad because all it takes is love, a relationship with Jesus Christ, and a determination that your marriage will not fail. That it is your top priority. It will all be good if you both do those three things. Bye.