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Marriages and Milestones

Nov 10, 2014 11:48PM ● Published by Ron Wilkie

Wedding Anniversaries, they come quickly. May you never forget your own…

Most are marked by a milestone gift. The first is paper, 25th is silver, 50th is golden. Sherisse and I  just celebrated number 30; pearl. My parents just celebrated number 60; diamond. The highest number that I saw was 90 years which is the stone anniversary. I’m guessing that I will be under stone long before that number comes up, but one never knows.

It is said that 1 of every 2 marriages ends in divorce, but according to Wikipedia that is not true. By the time each of us in the USA reaches the age of 50, a full 90% of us will have married at least once, but only 20% will be divorced or separated by that age. We tend to stay married in this country.

That makes the institution of marriage sound like it is in good hands right? Not so fast my friend. The youth of today are forgoing marriage and choosing to live together out of wedlock more and more. In 1960 the average age to get married was 20 for a woman and 25 for a guy. Fast forward to 2010 and the age is 27 and 28 respectively and trending upward.

Whether we get married young or wait, it is a commitment that many take seriously. Thank goodness. I’ve heard the complaints. We are a disposable society and frequently marriage and children fall victim to this curse. Maybe, but not as often as we are told.

I read a book recently called “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman that explains why some relationships do not work and how to save one that is faltering. According to Gary we all respond to and give different forms of love. Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

Few of us chose our mates based upon these characterizations but by physical attraction. After the heat of physical attraction begins to wane relationships frequently go south if couples are not in tune with each other’s love language.

For instance, I crave words of affirmation and my wife is an act of service person. When we are at odds with each other it is when she tells me a brutal truth about me when I’d prefer a kind word or when I fail to deliver an anticipated act of service to her. It seems small, but over time, if the need of one or both are not met the tension rises and many relationships fail for this reason.

I have a friend that also craves words of affirmation and her mate craves gifts. He is great at giving gifts, but she’s does not respond as well to a gift as a kind word. Kind words are not his thing and she is not a great gift giver. They have to work to please each other as do we, but they do and the relationships work.

On the drive to my parent’s 60th anniversary party I was scanning the radio dial and listened to the Kathy and Judy radio show on WGN for a few minutes. I giggled a little while listening on my way to help mom and dad celebrate 60 years of wedded bliss.

Kathy and Judy are both divorced and frequently bristle when callers talk about long relationships. I've heard one or both ask sarcastically what the caller's secret to marital bliss is. I think they miss the boat on that. Every relationship, whether it be a marriage or a friendship has strife. Working through the bad times must happen for either type.

Let’s face it if you've been together long enough chances are good that strife has hit the relationship at one time or another. It is not an absence if distress that marks a good relationship, it is how problems are handled that frequently are the key to a marriage that lasts verse one that ends before death do us part.

Are there exceptions? Of course. If the relationship is abusive, it should end. If your partner knows your love language and refuses to speak it, that is a reason to call it quits too. Fortunately most people once they ID the problem and the solution they are human enough to try. Again it is not the absence of problems that makes us successful, it is how we resolve problems that determines success.

My uncle Don looked at dad Saturday night during the party and said; “50 years of marriage is a milestone, but 60 years is amazing.” I whole heartedly agree.

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