It’s Golden Baby!

The big day in 1960

Some events are so big, so noteworthy that they deserve not only a blog post but a column to commemorate the occasion. I am speaking, of course, of the major milestone reached by my parents this month – 50 years of marriage.

So here’s the column I wrote in honor of their Golden Anniversary:

It’s June and that means brides everywhere are recovering from herniated discs from schlepping around bridal magazines that have the same gross weight as a Ford Fusion. They offer advice on every facet of your special day, even if it requires selling a kidney or two and channeling your inner-bridezilla to get it. While they do guide you through every detail to design the perfect setting for exchanging your I Dos, these publications noticeably lack information on that Happily Ever After part, which is infinitely more challenging than deciding between Amazon Roses or Calla Lilies.

I’m curious about what it takes to make it to that Till Death Do Us Part finish line. After marking twenty-two years of wedded bliss this month, I can offer this pearl of matrimonial wisdom: moving up the death part is not a good option even though some nights at 3 a.m. I’ve entertained the thought. While it’s true that 99.9% of the time, The Husband is an all-round great guy and my true soulmate. But when he snores, I want to kill him.

So for guidance I looked to my very own parents who will reach a major milestone this week – 50 years of marriage. But since less than 5% of couples will reach this landmark, I thought my folks might be the best source of information on the subject.

I decided to take this on as a little research project, to observe just what it takes to be able to spend a half-century together. Would the answer be eHarmony-like personality traits, shared interests or a sense of humor? Would it boil down to never forgetting a birthday or anniversary? Was it the liberal use of those two little words, “I’m sorry,” that are often so very hard to say?

On their most recent visit; I observed my parents with the objective detachment of a laboratory scientist. I watched how they interacted. I listened to their conversations. In one week of surreptitious surveillance, I determined the key to their lifetime together could indeed be boiled down to two words: hearing loss.

My dad’s been partially deaf since his Army days. Although he’s always had hearing aids, he found them annoying and turned them off most of the time. And now, as the parent of a teenager, I completely understand why Dad abandoned them altogether when I entered adolescence. So in fifty years, he’s been blissfully unaware of most of what Mom has ever said.

But now that Mom is a little hard of hearing too, their exchanges have gone to a bizarre new level. And it’s pretty clear to even the most casual observer that the conversations they think they are having are substantially more interesting than the ones that are taking place in reality.

They discussed food and sports: Mom: Can you believe that call by those referees? Dad: Yes, I’d love some cheese. They spoke of movies and the drive home. Dad: What did you think of that documentary on the Alamo? Mom: You’re right, that traffic was really stop-and-go. And then I heard the conversation that really put everything into perspective for me: Dad (laughing): What would you think if I got a tattoo? Mom (getting up to give him a peck on the cheek): Oh honey, I love you too.

Which, of course, really says it all.

Mom and Dad have helped me understand their secret to marital longevity. And thanks to them, I think I’ve discovered the two words that will help me make it to the fifty year mark with The Husband: ear plugs.

*On my recent visit home, Mom shared yet another one of their bizarre conversations with me. My dad said, “I can’t believe Denise will be 50 this year.” Mom apparently yelled, arguably so he could hear her, “It wasn’t a shotgun wedding, Ronnie!” (and I didn’t observe any firearms – or baby bump for that matter – in the wedding pictures). And Mom is correct, I’ll be 49.