Very few people (or at least those who put some real thought behind it) enter into a marriage with the intention of making it a few years only to then throw in the towel when things get tough. I’d venture to guess that most say their “I Do’s” with the romantic idealism of a paperback novel hero or heroine. Happily ever after and all that. ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ is spoken with a true reverence, a promise that each partner will put their all into the relationship. News reports tell us that roughly half the time this promise is upheld. Other times it’s broken for the most understandable of reasons. And sometimes, people just give up. More and more this is the story we hear, or sadly, have experienced ourselves. But some of us are lucky enough to have been provided with an example to emulate, to aspire to and to admire.
My parents, against all odds, have been married for 44 years today. They were married after only a couple of weeks of dating, in a little chapel in Reno, Nevada, their ceremony short and to the point. Neither had a dime to their name and if reason and sanity were dictating the event, had absolutely no business making the jump to husband and wife.
But then, love.
Seldom does love pay one iota of attention to reason and sanity. And thank goodness for us kids, neither did my parents. They committed to the union. They committed to their family they created together. And they committed to themselves to take seriously what they had promised in front of the Justice of the Peace. ‘Til death do they part.
Commitment can be a tricky thing. It’s very easy to commit when your situation is positive, effective, balanced. But the true definition of the word comes to light when you’re challenged, when you’re situation requires fierce dedication to the overall cause, staying married.
My parents have seen it all, been through it all and wrote the book about it all. Specific details don’t really matter. Name the conflict, they faced it. Name the struggle, they overcame it. Name the hardship, they persevered through it. As future marrieds ourselves, my sister, brother and I couldn’t have asked for better examples to prove the lesson. Commitment.
And like anything you commit to with passion and dedication, there’s a genuine payoff. A partner to navigate through life with. Your best friend to experience everything from an exciting milestone to a comfy evening on the couch in front of the television with a magazine and “who done it?” murder show. Your person. My parents are each others people. In recent years they have set out on a new journey, into a much-awaited and well-deserved retirement with another purpose. Utter and blissful enjoyment. Whether they be home or birds in the snow, they are doing it together. And for those of us still navigating through raising children and building our nest eggs, what a sight to see.
It hasn’t always been pretty and most certainly wasn’t always the most functional, but my parents are living proof that a person can get through almost anything and come out the other side stronger for it. Each one as resilient as the other, my mom and dad set a purpose to honor each other as true partners in life. And 44 years later, they continue honoring each other with as much passion and dedication with which they began.
Happy Anniversary Leland and Barbara! Your example of dedication to your family has spread far beyond your own relationship. You’ve set a fire inside each of your kids to commit, to work our damnedest at honoring ourselves and those we love. And for that, generations to come will be thankful.