Looking Together in the Same Direction: Thoughts on our 50th Wedding Anniversary
My thoughts on being married for fifty years and what it means to share that many winters and summers with one man.
"Would you like me to take a picture of you both?," asked the man in the casino lobby.
On July 1, my husband and I celebrated 50 years of married life. Fifty years filled with joy, sadness, boredom, excitement, pride, regret, and all other emotions that make up the scenario of a long marriage.
We decided to go to Lincoln City, Oregon and gamble at the Chinook Winds Casino--we like to gamble, but we have legalized gambling in our home state of Washington, and a gambling vacation was not going to be our focus. The beaches of Oregon are beautiful and we wanted a place to stay that was on the beach, and walking distance to a casino if we were so inclined.
We did what most couples do during that time, took pictures, told anyone who seemed remotely interested that we were celebrating our Golden Wedding anniversary. Over a romantic dinner, we talked about what it felt like to live together for half of a century. We agreed that we would have ‘done it again’ and that as a result of that union, our lives were enhanced and not diminished
Whenever we mentioned that we were celebrating our Golden Wedding anniversary, the response was always the same-----“Your 50th! You don’t look that---- (I think they started to say old)…you don’t look like you’ve been married that long!”
And I think that’s probably true; we don’t look like the ‘stereotype’ couple celebrating their golden anniversary. At least not the couples who celebrated their Golden Anniversaries in the ‘fabulous’ fifties.
My grandparents, for example, celebrated their half century mark with their children, and grandchildren in a little house that bordered a wheat field. There was a bakery cake displayed on a small table with china that she’d brought back from Sweden when she was a young woman. Everyone congratulated them on their long marriage and said all the clichéd’ things that people say on those occasions. The talk centered on children, grandchildren and how a good rain was needed to ‘perk up’ their vegetable gardens.
At no time was there ever talk about what grandma and grandpa planned on doing afterwards. There was no ‘afterwards’----the rest of their life was as predicable as death and taxes. In those days, a 50 year marriage was more of an ‘ending’ to married life rather than an ‘extension’ of married life.
Grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis and could not move around with a crutch. She spent her life sitting on a green kitchen stool in front of her Kalamazoo stove. On their anniversary, the stool was taken out of the kitchen and placed in front of the table with the cake, and silver coffee server. She wore her best pink dress and one of her five daughters bought her an orchid corsage.
Grandpa spent much of his time tending a small garden, twice a week he walked downtown and visited the local tavern where he played cards with his cronies.
One of the receding waves uncovered a rock with a perfect circle half-buried in the sand
As I stood in the water and let the waves comes up to my feet, I thought of those past anniversaries and how different they were from the golden anniversaries of today.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other,
but in looking together in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
One of the receding waves revealed a rock with a perfect circle half buried in sand. I picked it up and showed it to my husband. “Isn’t it perfect? I said, “A symbol of our marriage. The ‘circle’ that couldn’t be broken by all the bad things that can happen over the years: divorce, infidelity, and betrayal. The circle was a reminder that our life had come full circle, and was not an ending to life but an extension of life.
As I write this, my husband—a retired police Chief— consulted (and appeared on five episodes) of Discovery ID’s “Dark Minds” TV show in the spring and he recently learned that Dark Minds has been picked up for a second season. He’s an active member of S.T.A.L.K. “A profiling team of professionals whose mission is to aid law enforcement in the apprehension of serial killers through a comprehensive profiling process,” and hopes to write a book about his involvement with The Green River Murder Case. (He headed the Green River Task Force for three years at the height of the investigation.)
As for me, I continue to write plays as well as work as a freelance writer.
Shit happens but so does Serendipity
Although no one can predict the future, we’re grateful that we’ve had the good years that we’ve had. We share many of the same interests, and have adjusted and even relished in our differences.
In spite of my mom’s prediction, the years have not mellowed our passionate natures, nor has it ‘mellowed’ our disagreements in ‘loud voices’. He and I are both stubborn; and as a writer, I can be a ‘challenge’ to live with. He doesn’t seem to mind though, and when I apologize for some of my mercurial moods or impetuous acts, he says, at least I’m not boring. “I couldn’t be married to a boring woman.”
And now as we go into the next phase of our life with hope and enthusiasm and a non-Pollyanna awareness of the adjustments that life has in store.
But I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
The journey goes on.