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How Many Happy Years Was That?Posted Thursday, June 5, 2008, at 8:36 AM
There was a preacher a while back who announced one Sunday it was his wedding anniversary. "Twenty-five happy years! And 25 out of 32 ain't bad."
This past Sunday, June 1, Kay and I attended the 50th Wedding Anniversary reception for our friends Ed & Virginia Schultz. These two obviously love each other and are a good team -- just compatible and opposite enough. We've known them since coming to Indiana in 1996, but I felt something like a new kid on the block. Having lived most all of their lives in this area, there are a lot of people who have known them longer than we. They are the type of people who attract friends. However, having been married something over 40 years, I doubt every day of Ed and Virginia's 50 years together have been as happy as was last Sunday.
When Kay and I were married, 1965, the world we lived in still said one married for life and worked through the problems of such a commitment. If one lived 50 more years, being "happily" married that long was to be expected. The world has changed a great deal in my lifetime. Each generation thinks they are making "progress". Whether that's true or not always remains to be determined by generations yet to come. "Progress" of the past years leads one to assume this "working through it" stuff no longer applies.
At the exact hour 50 years after they were wed Ed and Virginia renewed their wedding vows. I can remember about 75 percent of my own, and tried to follow along. Either theirs were different than ours or someone had "updated" them. Surely passing years did not delude my memory.
It has become fashionable the past 20-plus years for an engaged couple to write their own "vows". I blame this modern wedding vows stuff for the decline in percentage of couples who remain married 50 years. There may have been good reason the ancient wedding vows used phrases like "pledge thee my troth." The use of archaic, obscure words insured we didn't know what we were getting into. I might even have thought "troth" had something to do with watering horses.
Not knowing what we were getting into helped a lot. In this information age apparently young in love types know everything -- or at least they can find it on the Internet. Our deprived generation didn't know we could write out of our vows the "poorer" and "sickness" parts. Today's youth have all the money they'll ever need and will never get old or sick, anyhow. [That does sound vaguely familiar -- did I think that once?] "Til death do us part" meant we might kill each other if we could get away with it; but anything short of death would have to be worked through.
Since I cannot now conceive of how I'd get along without Kay, nor quite remember my wedding vows, think I'll just stay with being 1960s era old-fashioned married-with-(grand)children. After all, we've been married 42 happy years -- more or less.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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