70 Years Married

 

 

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Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful,

Hello and hugs to you both!  How are you feeling?

I received a message from Wonderful Son this weekend, and it made my day!  He said you have settled in a place where you are both happy and getting the care you need.  You live near Wonderful Daughter, whom you see often, and everybody is happy and doing well.  I’m so glad!

More importantly, Son said the family will celebrate your 70th wedding anniversary soon!  He invited me to contribute a short video selfie to the well wishes.  Wow, what an honor.  I only got to serve as your primary care doctor a couple of years before you moved.  In that time I had the privilege of witnessing not just each of you as my patients, but you both as a couple, and your Wonderful family.  Please allow me to share my observations?  Here is my experience of you:

Ease.  Whenever I saw you two together, there was a peace and ease about your dynamic.  Patterns of relation were established long ago, and it worked.  I witnessed friction at times, but it was transient.  The vibe of our encounters was never agitated; it always felt to me that I had stepped respectfully into your well-oiled routine, and I tried my best to not disrupt it.

Patience.  Nobody rushed anybody when we were together.  Questions were answered, sometimes right away, sometimes after a while.  But you always gave each other the time and space to get where we were all going.

True Acceptance.  The Gottmans tell us that about 2/3 of marital problems are unsolvable.  This fall I will have been married half my life, 23 years.  This summer I think I may finally understand in my limbic brain, possibly, how to be in a marriage—something to do with really accepting the other person for who he is, like really, honestly, and wholeheartedly.  It was clear soon after meeting you both that you had figured this out long ago.  If I can get to 70 years, maybe I don’t have to feel bad that it took me 23+.

Devotion.  Medically, it has not been all lollipops and rainbows these few years, for either of you.  But whatever was happening for one of you, the other was right there, attending, caring, waiting, loving.  What more could any of us ask for?  And the Wonderful Children learned from your example; knowing them and seeing their devotion to you, their loving parents, inspires me deeply.

Learning, Growth, Adaptation.  Even at your age, there were things you did not know or understand.  Your bodies betrayed you in some ways we could not have predicted, and in others that you may have anticipated but were still a challenge to accept.  With the help of the medical team and your Wonderful Children, you have both managed to adapt to successive new normals with grace.

Loyalty and Commitment.  In it together.  That’s how you two roll.  I know it’s not easy, and we have discussed the challenges.  But you stick with each other through thick and thin, I’ve seen it.  You set the bar for the rest of us.

Love.  I think you, Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful, show us what true love lives like.  After 70 years I imagine you have some colorful stories to tell, some that belie all of the idealistic descriptions I write here.  But that is the point, no?  If we stick with it and do The Work, all of us hope to be rewarded with that deep, peaceful, reliable, and resonant love that transcends even what we innocently and earnestly vowed to each other at the altar.

Science, technology, and social convention have evolved beyond anyone’s imagination, and the pace only accelerates.  But the lifelong human need for love and belonging will never change.  Thank you for showing us how it’s done in a marriage.  Congratulations!

Sincerely, Cathy