Lasting marriage takes work

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Twenty-five years ago today, my wife and I were just finishing up our honeymoon in Colorado and ready to start our life together.

Some days it seems like we’ve just barely gotten started on that life and all the plans; other days I’m so comfortable with my life that it seems like I’ve always been with my wife.

To be sure, there were some rocky times — right from the start — that threatened our marriage but we’ve bucked the trend and stayed together. We’re both happy about that today and proud of each other.

I seem to be the side of the marriage that’s always in trouble and I started that trend before the ceremony was even performed.

I didn’t pick her up for the rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding. No one, especially her, has ever let me forget that.

I somehow thought she would be riding with her family since they were where she was and I wasn’t when it got time to go. I showed up exactly at the appointed hour and everyone was there demanding to know why I didn’t have my bride with me.

Even though I was really late picking her up, I think she probably still wasn’t ready. I think she took that as permission to be late for everything else to follow. I had a hard time accepting that she was always going to be late, but I think these days it doesn’t bother me nearly as much.

With our anniversary celebration going on last week, with the anniversary on Tuesday and the party on Saturday, I’ve had lots of people congratulate me and some want to know the secrets to a long marriage. That question has made me feel a little awkward. I’m not sure I’m qualified after 25 years to give instruction. But then with people changing spouses like socks these days, maybe I am.

One of the best story assignments I’ve ever had was the opportunity to interview a couple who had been married 75 years. The two were in their 90s and tickled to still be living together in their own home beside the Crystal River in Colorado. She was still getting out some, mostly to church, but he was mostly homebound.

I spent a couple of hours at their dining room table, looking at photo albums and listening to them tell of starting and operating a paint business in Texas, then moving to Colorado where they ran a vacation ranch and helped start a church. There was a lot of living packed into that 75 years. I wondered if my married life would ever appear so full to someone outside my family.

Being a diligent reporter, I had avoided it the whole time I was there, but I finally had to ask the old man the obvious question that anyone would pose.

What is the secret to a long-lasting marriage?

He said it takes work. Lots of work. He said things would come up that would make you mad or want to give up but if you really valued the person and the union that it was well worth the hard work to make things right between you.

Accepting that advice isn’t easy for any of us. It’s easier to be mad and let things fester. Pride makes us not want to give in to a mate’s wishes we don’t agree with. But in the end I believe he’s right — if you’re willing to work at it, a marriage can be as full as you want it to be, even if you’re not starting businesses and churches in the mountains of Colorado.

I could talk to you more, but the anniversary is over and I’ve got work to do before the next 25 years pass.