We have been married almost 57 years, while that’s a long time, it pales in comparison to our friends and fellow parishioners Francis and David Cheflon, or my Grandparents, Arthur and Tina Bryant, both couples celebrated their 75th anniversary. Along the way you learn some things about how to get along together, and how not to. There is no one secret to a lengthy marriage, and remember, a long marriage does not necessarily mean a good one. One secret I think most important to a good marriage, is mutual respect. Without respect from both parties, the ground in which love can grow will, in my view, forever be barren. The two parties must respect each other, and that can be hard for the wife to do when her husband hangs his underwear on the door knob instead of placing it in the hamper. I can tell you all about that, it’s a sign of laziness, and disrespectful, as well as hard to defend in divorce court. You must respect and appreciate each other’s contribution to the marriage.
That respect is also necessary and expected from the wife. There is a limit to just how many Hallmark, Christmas “chick flicks” a man can sit through without regurgitating or slitting his own throat. Especially, when there is a good football game on the other channel. And don’t expect him to sit there wiping his eyes with a tissue. Men and women are different physically and emotionally, and when we marry, both must respect that fact and that we appreciate different things that appeal to our gender. In that way we add diversity and richness not only to the marriage and any children it produces, but to our own happiness and well-being.
There is, in my opinion, no such thing as falling in love. Two people become attracted to each other. Usually, this attraction is caused by each person’s perception of how pretty or handsome the other happens to be. Later after they are introduced and talk together, if they find their interest has grown, then they might get together, court or date and eventually marry. People don’t fall head over hills in love, they grow into love. I am too poor a wordsmith to try to explain love, but I recognize it’s actually a combination of things. It starts with being attracted to one another, then a mutual liking makes the attraction stronger, and after a while a reliance on each other builds. In the first “Rocky” movie, Sylvester Stallone, playing Rocky, is speaking with actor Burt Young who plays (Talia Shire) Adrian’s, brother Paulie. When Paulie tells Rocky he doesn’t see the attraction between Rocky and his very shy sister, Rocky makes a most inciteful statement. He says, “We fill gaps.” She was shy with extremely low self-esteem, and he was a washed-up prize fighter and leg breaker, collecting debts for a bookie. He knew he was at the bottom rung of society. Neither had much going for them, but both had good sense, were average or better in all other matters, and together found they filled deficiencies each had. In doing so, they gave each someone to rely on, more of themselves, each making the other more complete, making each better, making the other whole. That is love.
Is love blind? Not a bit! Just hang your undies on the door knob and you’ll find out! To all the prospective husbands, I’ll tell you what that Methodist Minister told us when we married. We eloped, and were married in Livingston, Tennessee, largely because of our parent’s disapproval of each families’ religion. We were, in 1964, a mixed marriage due to being members of different church denominations. Times have changed. Now parents are proud if their childre1 just attend church, no matter what denomination. The preacher followed us to the car, and as I opened Fran’s door for her, in our 11- year-old 1953, Ford Mainline, he admonished Fran, “Young lady, don’t expect him to do that anymore. You won’t be able to afford the shoe leather.” Then he looked at me and said, “Don’t expect to win another argument with her. You’re married now.” That wise old man knew about which he spoke, and in his own way he told us that we had to be able to give something up to stay married. We had to sacrifice a little, and think more about the other to make it work. Together we made it work. Like Rocky and Adrian, we fill gaps.