On a perfect late October afternoon, a couple stood in the backyard of a Lakeville home, surrounded by family and friends.
The pair, both journalists, were about to get married.
She wore a street-length teal colored dress that cost under $30. He wore a brown semi-leisure style suit that was, um, priceless.
Middleboro Town Clerk Ruth Caswell, a justice of the peace, performed the ceremony. It was short, but sweet, just the way they wanted it. With no mention in their vows of the word “obey.”
They kissed for the first time as husband and wife and, then, their life together began.
A fast four decades later, it’s still going strong.
It was exactly 40 years ago today that Hank and I made it official in my parents' backyard. Thinking back to that day, I certainly recall looking forward to our future. But, at 25, I had no clue what it would bring. For better or for worse.
Like just about every other long-time couple — at least those honest enough to admit it — we’ve had some ups and downs. Though they haven’t come often, there have been times when we couldn’t stand to be in the same room together. That happens when two strong-willed people simultaneously dig in because they want their own way.
Yet even in those moments, we’ve instinctively known that the anger was only temporary, that there would be many more good times to come. So we hung in.
And, no question, the good has more than outweighed the bad. I say that even though 26 years into our marriage, Hank had a disabling stroke. I’m not going to lie to you. It changed our lives in a big way, especially Hank’s.
Do we wish that it had never happened? Of course we do. But it did and we’ve dealt with it. Truth is, Hank has made it easy for me, handling his challenges with amazing courage and grace. I couldn’t be more proud of him.
Beyond the love and the like we share, I’d have to say the biggest key to our marital longevity is a sense of humor. When the going gets tough, we get funny. Or at least one of us does. And that invariably gets the other one giggling.
No matter how serious things may seem, a silly joke or a groan-worthy pun (we’re particularly adept at the latter) gets us back in a better place.
Which reminds me of something I read the other day in a Good Housekeeping interview with “Halloween” queen Jamie Lee Curtis, who was asked about the secret to her 34-year marriage.
“Don’t leave,” she said. Then Curtis, who beat a drinking problem, quoted a phrase from recovery: “Stay on the bus… the scenery will change.”
And, you know what? She’s right. It really does — and after 40 years with Hank, I’m here to tell you, it’s almost always for the better.