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.