Toast to a long marriage

19:16, Oct 21 2012

Without counting, I imagine I wrote 25 or 30 wedding anniversary stories when I was working as a reporter.

Most of them would have been 50th anniversaries, with maybe one or two hitting the even bigger milestone of 55 years. They were unusual 25 or 30 years ago.

But times change. Some papers have stopped recording 50th anniversaries because there are so many. That doesn't make them any less special - 50 years together is certainly worth celebrating.

I remember my parents' golden anniversary. It was great to catch up with all the family friends and relations although I got the hard word from a few of the oldies because my elder sister spoke for the family, not me, the male child. Go figure.

The family got together again last weekend to celebrate Mum and Dad's 60th anniversary.

A lot has happened in those 10 years but they are both going remarkably well, still living in their own home and involved in the community, including card nights, golf and bowls. They have had health scares, which is not surprising for a couple in their 80s, but they enjoy life.


Sitting at lunch with them, I thought of the question reporters always ask couples on their anniversary - the secret of a happy marriage. The answers don't stray far from a theme: give and take and love each other.

I didn't ask Mum and Dad their secret because I've lived through it, and it follows the pattern. They are happy together. They get grumpy with each other, they sigh, they complain gently, but they are happy together and would be lost on their own.

It won't surprise any of us if they make it to their 65th anniversary, or even their 70th, which was unheard of a few years ago and is still rare.

We have recorded only one platinum anniversary this year. Marlborough couple Ada and Cyril Edwards celebrated 70 years together in June, although Evelyn and Leonard Benfell hit the 72-year mark a couple of months later.

A long-time women's editor - and a regular recorder of these events - once explained that world wars had a lot to do with many couples married last century not reaching even their golden anniversary. Couples who had been through the wars were less likely to have married young enough or lived long enough because of war-related health problems.

Couples, like my parents, were still young teenagers during World War II. They have also been on the receiving end of greatly improved healthcare and are of the age where couples stayed together despite tough times.

Despite all the reasons and the demographics, it is great to have Mum and Dad still with us, enjoying life and looking forward to their eldest grandchild producing the first of the next generation this year.

I had time during the drive home from Christchurch to think back over their married life as I remember it. The good times and the sad times, holidays, trips together, becoming grandparents, significant birthdays.

Congratulations again, you two - and to anyone else celebrating a significant anniversary this year.

The Marlborough Express