Sunday is my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. I am very close to this aunt and uncle. My dad is several years younger than my aunt so when we were kids it was kind of like we were her first grandkids.
They came to every birthday, dance recital, and spent every holiday with us. My sister and I even went and stay part of our summer vacation with us.
If someone was to ask me whose marriage mine was most like it would be theirs. They were high school sweethearts who got married right after his first year of bootcamp in the marines. They spent their first few years of marriage at Camp Pendelton in California away from all of their family and friends. I always loved their stories of how hard it was to have their first baby so far from home because it was a clear and concrete example of how moving away from famliy and making it on your own can strengthen your marriage.
They would argue and get frustrated with each other regularly and to our amusement at times. The one thing that never waivered for them was their love and respect. They respected each other and even when I was a kid I could see this. They didn't always get along and sometimes they drove each other nuts but they still respected their partner.
Since they had three kids at very young ages they spent a lot of their married years as empty nesters. My uncle spent his retired years gardening, working as a volunteer firefighter, and collecting civil war memorablia. My aunt worked for several years longer than he did but spent her free time caring for my grandmother and quilting.
A few years ago my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her masectomy and treatment my uncle jumped right in and became her primary care taker. My aunt joked that she would have gotten cancer years before if she would have known that was all it took for him to do the laundry, cook, and clean for the first time in their 40 some years at the time together. Laying in bed was too uncomfortable for my aunt after surgery so the two of them slept on side by side recliners for months.
50 years of marriage these days are becoming more and more rare. Headlines about the divorce rate and that the instiution of marriage is dead are more and more prevalent. I believe in marriage. I believe that you can spend your life with one person and still love them as much in fifty years as you did when you first got started. I hope that in 42 more years Bret and I look at each other with the same love, respect, awe, and admiration as my uncle looks at my aunt, and my grandparents looked at each other.