What makes a marriage work? I’m not sure anybody knows, but today I witnessed a marriage that has proven the test of time. Bob and Phyllis are the parents of a family friend. They live on the upper level of their youngest daughter’s home, and often beat my parents at cards. Until today I honestly gave them little thought when not in their presence. But today we celebrated with their family something that few people achieve; their 70th wedding anniversary. That’s right, 70 years of marriage.
No matter your beliefs about marriage it is universally impressive that a.) They’re both alive after 70 years together, and b.) They’re still married. Going through the display of their lives’ mementos really brought home how long a time that is. The pictures showed the progression of fashion from the 1940’s when they met and married until the 1960’s and 1970’s bouffant hair and leisure suits. Their 50th wedding anniversary was 20 year ago!
In a letter to her husband while he was deployed during World War II Phyllis enclosed a lock of her hair so that he “would remember what her hair color was”. The letter and lock of hair were on display along with his telegrams to her from Japan and Honolulu. This was a time when there were no color photos, no internet, no text messages; to see the color of her hair he needed to open an envelope containing a piece of it.
The vow renewal ceremony contained video snippets of the happy couple telling the story of how they met on a group outing in February 1942. Like When Harry Met Sally with none of the irony. In the film strip they sat on opposite ends of a love seat, finishing each others’ sentences and picking up where the other left off with descriptions and names of people and places long since gone. When asked what is the secret to a happy marriage Bob reached over and touched Phyllis’ knee while she patted him on the shoulder. “My wife is the secret,” he answered. “She’s quite a gal.”