Thursday, July 8, 2010

'Sitting in a tree' made it all sound so easy

While sitting poolside at the Ritz one day last weekend, I met a fascinating woman. And as we chatted she introduced me to her husband. They have been married 43 years. Wondering what is they key to their success, in her heavy southern drawl she said in a conspiratorial whisper, "You learn very quickly what buttons to push. And later you realize you don't always need to push  them."  Shortly thereafter, along came her mother. Another beautiful southern woman equally as fascinating as her daughter. As we talked, she told me she celebrated her 68th wedding anniversary last December. And still talks about her husband like he is the best thing that ever happened to her. 

As a child, my initial grasp of marriage was you sit in a tree, you kiss, then you fall in love, get married and have a baby. Voila!

Later, my concept of marriage could be summarized easily: Partnership and fun because that is how I saw my Mom and Step-Dad. My Aunt and Uncle (married 58 years this year) also demonstrated true partnership, a balance, and the amazing talent of being patient when you want to be impatient, and holding your tongue sometimes when you have more than plenty to say. 

Obviously, as an adult I discovered that in order to have a true partnership, and fun, you have to accept marriage has a certain element of work included too. And somehow when we were singing that song about Kelly and Scooter sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g; the word "work" was not in the lyrics.  In fact, the song makes it all sound strikingly easy. Sit in the tree! Kiss! Bravo! Now we know better. And while I know marriage is work, for me, this type of work is intrinsically more fun than work of other varieties. 

And while we certainly don't have it all figured out, JMac and I give it our best effort. And I would love a future snapshot of myself sitting by the pool chatting with some sassy little whippersnapper, sipping my libation as I share sage advice on how to remain happily married after 68 (or even 43) years just like Ms. Frances and Ms. Amanda did with me that day. It was a great testament that love and longevity are not mutually exclusive. And that happily married is not an antiquated idea. 

Since we are in our late 30's, I gather I will be all kinds of hellcat if we get to the 68 year wedding anniversary mark. Either hellcat or some strain of crotchety but 68 years is a fabulous goal to have in mind. The first one of us to get to that mark, be sure to share your secrets too. 

56 comments:

Jules said...

Those women had GREAT advice. Don't push the buttons. No need to. Plus, you don't ALWAYS have to be right. Let it go.

Mom in High Heels said...

68 years? Holy cow. Mr. HH and I have 53 years to go. If we get to 60, I expect a medal, a parade, my own TV show, a meeting with the President (I don't know why, but I figure if sports figures do it, why not?) and something big and shiny and sparkly. Like the Hope Diamond. We got married young (22 and 21),so I'll still be a spry 89 and dh and young 90 at that point. Right?
My grandparents were married for 59 years before my grandfather passed. But my grandmother killed him (true story-she was mad at him and hit him with a broom and broke his neck), so I don't think they're a really good example.

My name is PJ. said...

I know my share of people who've been married 30, 40, 50, even 60+ years and the one thing that stands out to me in the marriages I admire is that the two parties don't just love each other, they honestly like each other and enjoy each other's company. So many old timers get crabby and short of patience.

mbkatc230 said...

We'll hit 30 in January, and I think the button pushing advice is the best description I've heard. Mutual respect, learning to hold your tongue (that one KILLS me)and knowing when to laugh at yourself and your predicaments have helped us. Of course, it also helps if you marry a really great guy :) Kat

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Inspiring. I hope to make it 68 years too. Only 59 more to go.

AmyLK said...

They are very inspiring! I always used my parents as a model for my marriage, unfortunately, my ex didn't. HA! Good luck to you two and I look forward to celebrating 20, 40, and even 60 with you!

Simply Suthern said...

My parents just made 54, I will be on 28 in Oct. I always heard you go into marriage with both eyes open and after marriage you have to close one eye. Just hope she don't close it for me. LOL

Susan Erickson said...

Well I'm on 27 years and we still have the best times together....the secret...mutual respect and lotsa loving.....

Shana said...

Wow, those women were great. What a great goal to strive for.

My grandparents were married for 70 years!

Maria said...

Wonderful words to live by...here's to the next 53 years!

DaisyGal said...

now that is something to work toward...a happy marriage for a good long time. :)

they sound FAH-BULOUS!!

7 down, 61 to go.
:)

LadyFi said...

Wow ... 68 years sure is something. My parents have been married for over 50 yrs. Seems more common in that generation though than in the younger ones...

brainella said...

My parents hit year 45 in February and my in-law 43 about a week ago. They still hold hands and laugh at each other; it's really quite a happy thing to see.

My opinion -- most people these days want a wedding, not a marriage. You put infinitely more work into a marriage than a wedding.

Tricia said...

great advice!

blueviolet said...

I sure hope you get there!

Tracie said...

My parents have been married 55 years. I think the secret to their marriage is the fact that my dad can't hear very well.

leannebehrns said...

Beautiful post! I met an older lady who had been married a long, long time, and she told me that her secret was "to always hold hands".

Shell said...

Okay, I lost my train of thought after reading Tracie's comment. LMAO

Anyway...

So sweet! I hope that my husband and I will get there some day, too.

Together We Save said...

Wow great advice!

Intense Guy said...

Nearing the age of 50, and never and still not married, I'm never going to reach 68 years.

My parents married young and just celebrated 53 years - and they demonstrate one thing that seems to be key to me... ill-educated as I am on the subject - and that is teamwork and partnership. They do their own thing after they do the things they need to do together. Their priorities are "them" and then "me".

I hope you reach 68 years of bliss with MrMac - I selfishly want you to be around at least that long.

Kristina P. said...

I love hearing stories like this. It's so nice to have an alternative to all the divorces and couples who hate each other.

McVal said...

Heck - I better have my own reality show by my 68th wedding anniversary! Won't that be a kill?

Eva Gallant said...

I was married 12 years the first time and so far 27 this time...does that count?

foxy said...

My parents are nearly at the 40 mark and they are such an inspiration to me. And 68 years? What an accomplishment! It makes "dying of a broken heart" so much more understandable when people have been together and in love for that long.

Dumblond said...

Great story.
I look to my parents for how to make a marriage work. They were married just two months after my mother turned 18...right after they found out she was pregnant with me! For over 30 years, they have never separated and never quit on each other. To this day, my dad still calls her "My Lovely".

M-Cat said...

What a great post! WOrk - sure, but lot's of fun and laughs.

Can't wait for my 68th either!

The Boob Nazi said...

Wow. 68 years is unbelievably long. Good for them.

Pollyanna said...

Marriage is work and too many people don't realize that before making a committment in front of God, their family and their friends. I love my hubby more today than when I married him almost eleven years ago - let's hope the trend continues :)

Brian Miller said...

i think that is a great goal...i love to sit and talk to people that are so far ahea of me and hear what made it work for them...it is work...if you are not working you are probably going backward...there is no idle in marriage....great post!

Mira said...

I'm praying I make it to 10. Let's set reasonable goals here people. Then I'll do the next 10. Lack of sleep and too many children causing that lack of sleep make it hard to see too far down the road. I hope you make your 68 years, and I'm glad you found someone good to get there with!

Grand Pooba said...

68 years? That a crazy long time and you don't think it's possible but then you see those sweet little old couples holding hands and you just have to smile!

Southern Champagne Wishes said...

Wow. I'd love to find that kind of relationship and marriage that will stand the test of time like that. Definitely gives me hope!

Pricilla said...

How delightful.
I've hit 28 years and still going strong.
Patience and more importantly a sense of humor are so very vital I think to long lived marriages.

And the ability to recognize that time apart is sometimes a good thing.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I think being married to your best friend helps too!

Aging Mommy said...

I have been married almost 11 years and my parents celebrated their 51st anniversary this year. Given two thirds of first marriages and even more second end in divorce meeting anyone who has been married 68 years is a very rare thing.

I think the key to a long marriage is a a very strong friendship. Every marriage is different, some communicate well others do not, some argue, others do not and so on but if at the heart of a marriage is a good strong friendship then the chances of long term success are high.

Slamdunk said...

68? That is impressive. Buttons and communication will be at the top of my list and I am that old dispensing advice.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I love stories like that. My friend's parents just celebrated their 64th anniversary.

Jessica-Lauren said...

Wow, Amazing post. I am very young, 22 and not read to get married. If I look at my grandparents who have been together for 65 years I know there are so many reasons why they are still happily together. But the one that stands out to me the most is the simpliest one. The idea of Family. My grandparents live for love. And they know they have created such a beautiful family out of that love. That's how I see it too...I believe the person you marry becomes a family member to you, who you will love unconditionally till death do us part :)


Love this blog!

Tracy said...

I just had my 30th. I never DREAMED about being married 30 years. I have a long way to go to 68(!). Don't think about it so much. Just relax and enjoy it.

J.J. said...

I asked an aunt, who'd been married for 55 years at the time, what made a successful (and happy) marriage. She said, "You have to laugh with each other, be kind to each other, and say 'thank you' for the little things."

Sounds like good advice to me!

Myya said...

Holy heck that is a long time! I can only hope to be so blessed!!!

Writing Without Periods! said...

My grandmother gave my aunt and uncle great marriage advice: "Just stay together. Why make two other people miserable!
They were married 60 years.
Love the post.
Mary

secret agent woman said...

Sometimes I get a little impatient with people who think they know the "secret" to a long marriage just because they've been married a long time. I was quite happily married for about 17 years, not quite as happily a couple years after that. But I see people who do all sorts of awful things to each other who stay together It's kind of like the 100 year old who claims it's the bran, or the laughter, or the bacon, or the prayer. Hell, sometimes I think it's all mostly chance.

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

What a sweet topic and great post... great advice both from your Southern Belles and your cheering section! You always get such great comments :)

While I don't know what advice you will be taking to heart, I do know you won't be going after JMac with a broom any time soon... (holy smokes..!!)

We just had our 19th, so certainly a ways to go. Our secret? Take it day by day, and spend alone time together as often as possible. Enjoy each other!

Baloney said...

We are on year 15 - so we have quite a ways to go.
Marriage isn't at all what I imagined but then neither is parenthood.
For starters, I never knew how many smells there would be.
Ahhhh... the fairy tale. :)

BigLittleWolf said...

This is delightful. My maternal grandparents went to 50+ years of marriage before my grandfather passed away, and my paternal grandparents celebrated 65 years of marriage.

The devotion (and humor) was something to see.

So it can happen! Just not as often as we might like, in our brave new millennial world.

Ellen@FirednFabulous said...

I learned to hold my tongue with my bf after we recently had an argument about PRETZELS. It was ridiculous. Next time I feel a stupid fight coming on, I'm going to back down! So not worth it.

HalfAsstic.com said...

Ah,yes. Marriage advise. You know, after being happily married for 21 years, I really do feel like you're right about the "work" part of it. It's not so much "work" as a bit of effort. And considering how much we both love and support each other, it's a pleasure to give it. "Fun" even. It certainly feels good!

In3Dee said...

Lovin the advice. Def need to learn when to push buttons and when not to! LOL

Oh, and if the hubs pisses you off, rather than say what you really feel..@$%^@$%&@! You just say, "well bless your heart". It's a southern thing.

Anonymous said...

I love your style of writing. Funny, witty, moving. That is why I come here daily.

gayle said...

Marriage is very hard work!! It does take two people who are willing to make things workout!!
Great post!!

Unknown Mami said...

I did not grow up with very many examples of happy marriages and for a long time I thought I would never get married. Some advice I could do without, but the advice you were given about realizing you don't always need to push the buttons is advice I can use.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I grew up with the opposite of a good example, as did my Hubs. It isn't always easy, but we hope to be one of those old couples holding hands and walking on the beach in our future.

Dustjacket Attic said...

Very inspiring post JM, would loved to have talked to those two women, they sound like real characters ;)

Loved reading the comments on this one,
xxxx

Pres. Kathy said...

Lovely post! It is so important to listen to others. Marriage is a beautiful thing but also a hard one.

Mighty M said...

Love it! Cheers to all the couples who stay true to their vows!!