This weekend, we celebrated my father-in-law’s parents’ anniversary.
They have been married for 70 years.
No, that wasn’t a typo. They’ve spent the past seven decades side-by-side, facing the world together as husband and wife.
I can hardly imagine being 70, let alone getting that many years to spend with the man I love. Few people are so lucky. Very few.
So when I got a moment, when the party was dying down, and Granny wasn’t talking to anyone, I asked her if she had any marriage advice. This is what she said:
“I guess if I could say one thing, it would be when you get to fussin’ and pickin’ at each other, you know, just sit there and take it. Don’t get up an leave, now. Young people these days, they get ideas in their head about what they want, and when it isn’t that way, you know, they just leave.”
This surprised me, but the longer I think about it, the happier I am that this is what she said. I guess I expected her to say to never let the sun go down on your anger, or to always be each other’s best friend, or to make each other laugh every day, or something.
This certainly isn’t the advice I would have given. But what do I know? I’ve only been married four and a half years. Granny’s a little more qualified than I am to be giving advice, and it boils down to one word: Stay.
Now, I know that there are some circumstances this doesn’t apply to, such as repeated infidelity. And if someone is being abused, of course they shouldn’t just stay and take it.
But when that isn’t the case, when marriages are falling apart simply because someone is unhappy, or bored, or selfish, I think this may be the best marriage advice I’ve ever heard.
After all, isn’t that what we promised to do in the first place?
For better, for worse (I’ll stay).
For richer, for poorer (I’ll stay).
In sickness and in health (I’ll stay).
As long as we both shall live (I’ll stay).
What would happen if more marriages actually looked like this? If people just stayed together? I think good things would happen.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the woman who’s been married to the same man since 1942.