What does fifty years look like?
I’ve been pondering that question since our anniversary in August.
Of course, there are still hearts and flowers, but there are other less glamorous times, too.
Yesterday was an example.
I sat down at the bottom of the stairs to open a package while my dogs scampered on up. I set my lunch-time smoothie (in a glass with a straw) on one of the steps. I began to think about my two missing cats and the tears started flowing. As I was slashing and poking and cutting at the incredibly hard-to-open package I had purchased at Sam’s, the sadness and frustration really set in, and my tears turned to sobs. That scared my little blind dog who came running down the stairs directly over my smoothie. Luckily I saved it from overturning, but now I needed a clean straw.
As I got up to go to the kitchen, the phone rang. I grabbed a tissue to wipe my eyes and to blow my nose before answering – and – blood started gushing.
That was the start of a horrible nose bleed. Blood was going everywhere and it wouldn’t stop. I was grabbing tissues by the handful and I ran through the house looking for my cell phone to look up what to do. I couldn’t keep my hands free long enough to look things up.
I thought about calling an ambulance or of driving myself to the emergency room, but decided to call my husband first.
He didn’t answer his cell so I called his office manager and told her my situation. She went to find him, but he was in the middle of a procedure with a patient. However, he told her to keep me on the line and to tell me to lie down on the floor with an ice pack under the back of my neck. I found the ice pack and a blanket to put on the floor and my box of Kleenex and laid down, one hand holding my nose and the other holding the ice pack on my neck.
Thirty minutes later, my husband walked in the door to check on me. After asking how I was doing, and me realizing the bleeding had finally stopped, I took the tissues away from my face. Wryly he said, “you look like hell.”
After a while, I got up and went into the bathroom and gasped. My face and hands were covered with dried blood and I did “look like hell!”
I started laughing, thinking about his comment.
I think I finally have the essence of what it means to be married to the same man for fifty years.
According to writer Hugh Prather, “A time can come when you know that you have a partner to walk beside you, someone with whom you can grow old.”
There are so many memories packed into fifty years.
Our courtship was exciting, love-filled and fun. He made everything seem funny and adventurous.
We met in college and began dating.
After a couple of years, I decided to take a break from school and moved to Dallas then Kansas City to join Braniff International as a flight attendant.
It was hard being apart, so after flying for a year, I decided I wanted to leave the ‘exciting’ life and go back to school – and to my sweetheart. Soon after returning home, we got engaged and began planning our wedding.
Can you believe, we got everything arranged within three months and were married that August?
Married student housing during our senior year of college was fun.
We have been together during that first summer when we drove to Massachusetts and worked in a girl’s camp.
We have been together during his years of dental school and my years of teaching fourth grade in Houston.
We have been together since deciding to move to Tyler to open his dental practice.
We have been together while raising three kids.
We have been together while I have been a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, a student mom and an entrepreneur mom.
We have been together through the illnesses and eventual deaths of our parents.
We have been together through trips and vacations.
We have even been together through years of various pets, changing diets and even mixed-doubles.
I have kept a copy of Hugh Prather’s, A Book for Couples, through the years and it has provided some good advice to anyone trying to maintain a relationship. Here are some quotes from the book:
The world is not an easy place to live in and this becomes increasingly apparent as we go along. Eventually we see that it is impossible to live happily without help. Help comes in many forms but surely one of the most easily recognizable is a long-term relationship.
You want to find ways to make life easier for your partner. You want to be part of a team that pulls together to get through life.
Being in love doesn’t help. Not that it can be avoided. Whatever you thought about your relationship while you were infatuated – what it meant, where it was going, what your partner was really like – you can now safely dismiss. Your relationship was never extraordinary, your partner was never above the crowd, and you have lost absolutely nothing in seeing this. Now you can get down to work, because what you truly want lies before you.
So what does a couple do when the honeymoon is over and it is beginning to dawn on them that not only is their relationship not magical and wonderful, it has in fact not even begun to form? They should not be discouraged. Above all, they should not blame each other. And in most cases they should not rush out and try to start another relationship with someone who has what this person lacks. Instead, they must begin a thorough housecleaning of their minds to free themselves of all they carry from the past.
There are no well-fitted couples, at least not in the early stages of a relationship. This isn’t to say that some do not clash less than others, for of course there are degrees of incompatibility. The kind of relationship you yearn for – and have a right to – is not the one you begin with but the one you will end up with.
Your life will not begin when finally you have found ‘the right one for you.’ It will begin where you are.
You have a partner and you have the present. That is enough to begin.