These are my grandparents, Bob and Norma. They got married in 1950. Back when the cost of a family style loaf of bread was about 12 cents and Campbell’s Tomato Soup cost 10 cents. That long ago.
As grocery prices have risen, technology has changed they way we live, and domestic terrorism has hit America, this love has remained the same. Just think of how much has changed in 69 years. Many people reading this were not even alive in 1950.
So how is it possible that one man and one woman could survive everything life threw their way. The depression, the recession, raising 8 children, moving, changing jobs, burying parents, the list goes on.
Love. That is how they did it. They had the worst of times and the best of times. They loved through both. They fought and they made up. They loved through both. They dealt with jealousy, anger, sadness, and regret. They loved through it all. It is truly that simple and yet that complicated.
We live in a world where it is rather easy to walk away. There are an abundance of choices. And the grass is always greener. Social media has made it even harder to stay focused on monogamy. And now with so many women in the workforce, men are not “needed” in the same way. But when I asked them how they have stayed committed for 69 years, my grandpa said the answer was in my question. Commitment. They made a vow before God to honor Him in Holy Matrimony. And they kept their word. Period.
But here is what their 69 years have taught all of us below them. Their son, which is my dad, has been married to my mom for 47 years. Their other children, my Aunt Beth, has been married nearly 40 years. Their other daughter, my Aunt Janet, has been married for 30 plus years. In fact, 8 is too many to list but for most of them, it’s the same story. Long term marriages.
Then you move to the next generation, my brother and I. We have been married to our spouses for 18 and 11 years. Do you see how it’s generational? None of us are special. None of us have some magic code the rest of the world doesn’t have. All of us are flawed. But my point is simple – our grandparents, by staying together, taught us how to stay together. There was never any formal session or secret training. There was never a manual given out or a code to follow. But we did see them go to church every Sunday. We did see them drop to their knees and pray. We did see them say grace over meals. We did see them read the bible. We did hear them thank God in the glorious times and still thank Him in the difficult times. I should mention, my brother and I also saw this from our other grandparents – my mom’s parents. They made it to 50 plus years when my grandpa died. So we saw committed love on both sides of the family. This does not make us an expert in love, but I will tell you this … there are plenty of days my husband drives me crazy. Like my grandparents, we have had worst of times and the best of times. We loved through both. We have fought and made up. We loved through both. We have dealt with jealousy, anger, sadness, and regret. We loved through it all too. Because at the end of the day, we made a commitment to God and to each other. And I’m not sure we will live long enough to make it to 69 years, but if we do – we have my grandparents to thank.
So the next time you get boiling angry with your spouse, think about this story. Ask yourself if you are choosing love. Because if you choose love, there is no room for selfishness, only forgiveness.
My grandfather met my grandmother in 9th grade. So to this day, he still says, “I have loved her as long as I can remember.” And when he gets to heaven – when they both get there – God will remember too. They stay committed for Him. Love always wins.
P.S. Wanted to share some tips or things I do when I get angry at my spouse. These techniques have helped me – hope you can apply them too! Remember, you can fight, but give yourself some rules that you both agree on … this way a fight doesn’t turn into a war.
- Walk away. Literally. I take a walk to cool myself down and avoid the temptation to say things I might regret later.
- I write down all the things that I am upset about, so when I cool down, I can take out that tablet and have a civilized and calm conversation with him.
- I try to see it from his point of view. I sincerely try to understand his perspective. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t.
- I say a prayer for guidance. Sometimes multiple prayers.
- I wait until the kids go to bed so we can “fight it out” without exposing the kids to any arguing.
- I talk to my mom. Since she has been married for 47 years, she normally has some good advice.
- I try to make a joke of minor disagreements by saying something like, “Tell me when you are ready to apologize to me.”
- I do something that brings me joy, to reverse my mood – like read or take a bath.
- I don’t hold a grudge and I never bring up old fights. Focus only on the current issue and how to make it better.
- I fight fair. I might cuss, but I always fight fair – no belittling and no name calling.