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  Monday January 26th, 2015    

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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
The secret to a long marriage is… (02/15/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

I loved reading the “How I Met the One I Love” stories in today’s paper (see pages 9a and 10a). What struck me was how many of the stories were about a very short, by today’s standards, courtship before marriage.

These days, the wedding seems to overshadow the marriage. We meet someone, fall in love, become engaged, and then the trouble begins — the wedding planning.

And the planning stretches over a year or more! It’s not like the old days, when a couple could call up the pastor or go to the courthouse, be married within a reasonable time and have a reception for a small number of family and friends in the back yard, which is what John and I did.

Of course John and I didn’t exactly become engaged. We came to an agreement, and shook on it on the Burlington Northern train platform on the Wisconsin side of the bridge. No diamond, which was very hippie at the time, and which I didn’t begin to regret until we’d been married about twenty years. It made it harder to tell people (especially our parents) we were engaged, because they would invariably look at the ring finger on my left hand and — seeing no ring — think I was making it up.

When I called my parents in early summer to tell them that John and I were getting married, they wanted to know when the wedding would be, probably because they figured it would be their job to put it on, which they guessed right. I hadn’t really thought about it, so I told them it might be around the beginning of December (after hunting season for John and so I could be in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving). But I said that might change. I was the worst sort of daughter, not understanding how much work even a small wedding would be, and how expensive. I was used to living my life on a schedule that changed with the way the wind blew, and they were not. Definitely not.

As things transpired, John got a teaching job, and at the time teachers were supposed to uphold certain moral standards in the community, which did not include living in sin, so we changed the wedding date to August, with time for a week’s honeymoon before school started.

But when you read the pieces in today’s paper, you will read nothing about weddings. To be fair, we didn’t ask about weddings, but it seems that after thirty years or so, the wedding and reception, which had consumed so much of the couple’s time and energy, fades into history, and what remains a vital memory is what drew the couple together.

I know this isn’t very scientific, but perhaps cherishing that “certain something” that attracted you to your mate in the first place, rather than letting it get lost in the kitchen or at work or somewhere in the diaper bag, might be the key to a lasting marriage. Certainly our reader-writers think so. 


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