Legacy of Long Marriages

Nana and Papa - still talking after all these years.

Nana and Papa – still talking after all these years.

My grandparents have been married for 66 years. Nana and Papa’s marriage embodies all I want mine to be after that long.  They hold hands while walking together, they are each other’s best friend, and they still look at each other in a way that lets any outward observer know they are in love.

But, you know, being married is not always easy.

They got married when my grandmother was only 15 and had to travel to a different state to make it legal -even with her mom’s permission.  My grandfather, a WWII veteran, offered the stability that Nana lacked in her own family. They worked hard to build a home together and to provide for the children they eventually had.  Over the years, they were challenged significantly, losing two of their six children to separate tragic deaths. Yet they endured those hardships as well as illnesses and personal and professional challenges but never allowed those circumstances to drive them apart.

Their steadfast commitment is their legacy.

Somewhere along the line, I think we’ve gotten the mistaken idea that a perfect marriage never faces tough times; that if the road is rocky, maybe you weren’t meant to be together in the first place; and that the romance should always be there.

Part of the problem may be with our definition of romance.  Media sells us romance in shades of grey with vampires and werewolves or with flowers and chocolates and intimate dinners for two.

But reality sets in.

Suddenly, intimate dinners turn into a quick bite wherever there is a playland. Flowers get transformed into bridal bouquets for make-believe weddings and chocolates have to be hidden or eaten quickly – before the kids get to the caramels.

Romance, when you’ve been married for a while, looks different.

Now, romance is my husband not making fun of me when my allergies act up and I have to wear a nasal breathing strip in order to sleep. (He is a bigger person that I am – I may not be able to resist if the roles were reversed.)

Romance is my husband bringing me a glass of water when I am downstairs watching TV; finally sitting down after the kids are in bed.

Romance is my husband programming the coffee maker when he leaves town so I wake up to hot coffee the first morning he’s gone.

However, the most romantic thing of all is the knowledge I have that he is as devoted to me as I am to him.  Because if we are both willing to weather the storms of life together, as my grandparents have, we can leave our own legacy and for that, I’m grateful.

10 thoughts on “Legacy of Long Marriages

  1. Oh, Jaymi, this is a beautiful post. I’m married 25 years and my parents 50. This past summer at my daughter’s wedding (she blogs here http://dkpope.wordpress.com/ ), the DJ played a game where all married couples were called to dance. Then he would dismiss those have been married “less than 24 hours”, then less than a year, then 5, then… at 25 years, my parents and my husband and I were the only ones remaining out of 150 guests. Then my husband and I honored my parents by leaving the dance floor to them alone…to celebrate the legacy they have handed on to us. Tell you grandparents thank you for their example ❤

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  2. What a great reminder of the essence of marriage and the ebbs and flows of it. I love the sneaking of the chocolate part…romance today was my husband telling me to go back to sleep when our 4 yr old woke up with a fever at 5 am this morning, yesterday it was me taking on his weekly chore of grocery shopping (which I hate) so he could have time to work on our basement. My how romance changes…great post!

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