On this very day 50 years ago, my parents got married. The ceremony was performed in my grandparent’s living room and attended by close family and a few friends. After cake and punch, the newlyweds left to honeymoon in New Orleans. It was a small and happy wedding and the perfect start to their lives together as Mr. and Mrs.
I asked Mama and Daddy what their secrets to such a long marriage were, and this is what they said.
- Don’t say every single thing you think. It’s better to keep some things to yourself.
- Be polite to your spouse.
- Give your spouse space — physical space, mental space, emotional space.
- Be tolerant.
- Be humble.
- Don’t expect your spouse to think or act just like you.
- Don’t be mean or disrespectful to your spouse’s parents — be sweet to the daddy to be sure, but be especially deferential to the mother-in-law. Nobody likes it when you mess with their mama.
- Don’t expect your spouse to make decisions for you and don’t try to make decisions for them. It’s alright to ask for your spouse’s opinion, but each person must have his/her own mind.
- You have to respect the commitment you made to the other person and expect to stay married.
- You have to be good friends.
- Don’t hold a grudge. If you get into an argument, you have to get past it and “let it go, set it free,” as my parents say.
- Understand that you don’t have to do everything together and enjoy the times you do spend together.
- You can’t have a preconceived notion about what a marriage is supposed to be based on what other people say or do. Remember that you are two individual people and that there’s no one else like you and that there is no other marriage like yours.
- And finally, and probably most important, to quote a song that was number one on the Billboard charts in 1967, “all you need is love.”
And that’s just what their home — our home — has been filled with for these last 50 years. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, through sickness and health, there is always love. And to quote another number one Billboard hit from that year, that’s exactly how they’ve managed to remain, for all these years, “happy together.”
Happy 50th Anniversary, Mama and Daddy!