I’ve been thinking about old marriages because I have observed many couples married forty, fifty, or sixty years on my snowbird retreat. Yes, they have been married to one person all those years! When we had been married about ten years, I couldn’t fathom we’d ever reach the twentieth anniversary. We still had a lot of tugs, stumbles, and stubbornness in our marriage. However, we learned the ebb and tide of flowing together through hardships, rearing two boys, and celebrating and having fun together even when we were fussing, arguing, and competing with each other.
It is a terrible combo when two competitive people that are both the babies in the family get married. We both want to win. It doesn’t matter if it is playing cards, climbing a mountain, succeeding in our career, or doing our own thing, or arguing. We want to win. Having the birth position of “baby” creates a dimension of “it’s mine and I’m special”. It has taken years to realize I am competitive even if I am not the athlete my husband is. But, all these years together have taken the edge off our competitiveness, and we understand each other’s need to win. We have taken competitive energy and turned it into together energy. We have turned self-centeredness into we can do this together.
Our marriage is like the sunrise. We have seen some stormy mornings, vibrant red skies, ordinary days, and basked in the miracles of the rising sun. It has taken all these circumstances to mold us, change our hearts, turn our cheeks, and lift our spirits during tough times. Like a lingering sunrise of red, orange, and yellow upon a tranquil teal sea, each of these days together has created beauty within. We appreciate each other’s talents and gifts, understand the gold in our hearts, and see the sunrise in each other.
We have celebrated well. Energized by traveling to new countries, experiencing different cultures, and tasting foods and wines from afar have created an “awe” button within. When we push that button, we vocalize to each other the magic of travel and how it has changed our perspective, awakened epiphanies, and increased our ability to appreciate those unlike us. We embrace and love the new friendships that have been gained in our travels from New York to California, from Kazakhstan to Europe. We always have a travel dream in our hearts and gratefulness for how our journeys have added to our marriage. Traveling together has made us best friends.
When we said, “ I do”, we didn’t realize the struggles and tears we would shed together. We cried tears of anger and in sorrow. When our children were hurting, ill, or challenged, our hearts sank in unison. When we faced illness, financial hardships, or family deaths, that “ I do” became a contract. I do love you even if we’ve made wrong judgments, been neglectful, are suffering illness, or standing firm in faith for our children’s healing. I do love you when you wrap your arms and energy around me and give me strength. I love how you help me turn a negative into a positive by joining your energy with mine.
Forty-nine years of cheering at football games, laughing at our children’s antics, becoming that sacred title of “grandparent”, or going on a date, we have been blessed. Only an old marriage realizes the magnetic energy of dancing like we did when we were teens. When old bodies embrace, music is heard and understanding is projected. We often need to help each other with a lost word when we share a favorite story. Old marriages are like worn baby blankets. They have comforted, warmed us, and been there through sleepless nights. We have become that security blanket to each other.