Today is Grant and Elizabeth Faulk’s eighth wedding anniversary. For those of you that don’t know, Elizabeth is our youngest daughter. Catherine and Daaron Vanstone, our other daughter and son-in-law, recently celebrated their tenth anniversary.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 4th, Mary Lou and I will celebrate the 37th anniversary of our wedding vows. Tomorrow would have also been my grandparents’ 87th wedding anniversary, as Mary Lou and I were married on their Golden Wedding Anniversary.
I couldn’t begin to fathom how long 37 years together would be back in 1978. We were young, in love, and the world was at our feet. Then again, I cannot fathom how quickly 37 years has gone by. Was it in an instant, a blink, a bat of an eye?
There are a lot of reasons, good reasons, that people don’t stay married. It was a mistake in the first place or they drifted apart. Children, financial difficulties, health issues, changes in what is important to one or both; all and more are listed as reasons for divorce and I understand that. In fact, I have seen some struggle to keep a marriage together for noble reasons, only to make all parties miserable.
With you hopefully understanding that I make no judgment on anyone else’s circumstances, I would offer these reasons that we have enjoyed a long life together.
First, we had some great examples. My grandparents lived another 16 years after our marriage and we celebrated each March 4th together. No matter what problems Mary Lou and I may have been having, once a year we faced a couple that had been going through the same things for 50 more years than we had.
My parents were married 48 years, my in-laws have been married 63 years, my aunt and uncle for 65 years. There were always examples around us of two people working things out and living together.
One thing I hope my wife and I have in common is that we try to put each other ahead of ourselves. “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know. What do you want?” As infuriating as that exchange is, the truth is I would rather eat what she enjoys than have her fix me something she doesn’t like.
“Don’t come home unless he hits you.” These were the parting words of advice that my grandfather gave to my mother and aunt as they married. I am not sure these instructions would be politically correct these days, but what he was saying in his own way is that marriage is for life. Expect to have bumps along the way, but also expect that you will work them out.
No matter how it appears from the outside, no couple has a perfect marriage. No matter what the differences we have had along the way, and there were many, we never considered divorce as the answer. Our expectation was always to work it out.
Put your spouse before your children. This one is hard and becoming harder. We struggle to give our children everything they want forgetting they may just want to find their own way like we have. Though the circumstances are almost never intentional, don’t ever allow your children to come between you and your spouse.
Make faith a foundation in your home. The guidance and support given to couples and their children through a life in the church is important. Our church was and is our sanctuary and its members are our trusted friends. It doesn’t matter what church or faith, but it does matter that a couple has a connection to something bigger and more important than themselves.
Finally, there is that over-used, under-appreciated, and occasionally meaningless word call love. I don’t try to define it anymore, at least as to how it has evolved during our marriage. It has changed as we have changed. Our love is different as we have become different. Our love has enabled us to make tough decisions that kept us together through good times and bad.
I can only tell you the two truths that I know to be absolute on this day. The credit for our long marriage rests almost completely on the gentle nature and caring spirit of my wife. I don’t deserve her; never did and am blessed that we met that day at Girard Junior High School.
The second truth is that I love her more today than ever before. I cherish our memories, enjoy our days together now, and look forward with great anticipation to our future.
Life is good, but it is better with the person you love. Happy Anniversary, Mary Lou. I love you.
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