Thoughts on Marriage from a veteran

img_5844.jpgRecently my best friend’s parents celebrated their 45th anniversary. Can you imagine being married for 45 years? That seems nearly impossible when I am at the age where I am no longer hearing the ringing of wedding bells but rather the tearing up of joint accounts, mortgages and all other items associated with the union of two people. In the rare event that I do attend a wedding, in the back of my mind, I estimate how long it will last. being the survivor of a starter marriage, I wouldn’t say I was bitter….merely realistic.

However, this email gave me a lot to think about. Even with the religious references taken out, it is great advice for any couple starting out on a joint journey. Congratulations to Juan and Lydia Mercado!! Email follows:

COMBING GREY HAIR by Juan L. Mercado

( The wife and I had to give a “response” to the toast that our kids and friends offered on our 45th wedding anniversary. Here is what Lydia and I mumbled. – JLM )

J : The Irish poet William Butler Yeats once wrote of a friend: “we dared to dream that he would comb grey hair.” Lydia and I now comb grey hair.

Yet, to advance in age – and hopefully, in wisdom and grace — is denied to many. Scan the obituary pages. You wince to see so many young lives cut short, some in brutal conflicts as in Mindanao and elsewhere.

And was it not Henry IV who wondered aloud: “Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?” .

It has been 12 years now since Lydia was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery, chemotheraphy, radiation and follow-up checks blurred into each other. Yet, God saw fit to give the present of extended years. We are grateful.

L A “sapphire” anniversary is more than about combing grey hair. “Gratitude is “memory of the heart”. It is a time for giving thanks for the good days as well as the not-so-good days.

Life is foremost a gift of God – which opens us to other gifts even more enduring than “the sum of our years”, as the Psalmist puts it. “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.

Every marriage has its storms —more times than young couples imagine and more times than elder ones, like us, care to remember. All too often, the snapping point seems to come. One or the other wonders: Is there any point in going on? “ They have no more wine,” Our Lady told her Son at the wedding feast at Cana..

J : This fullness of life experienced most in children. As parents will attest, nowhere is sacrifice more demanded, yet freely given, than in the care of children Paradoxically, they becomes also the source of greatest joy.

Indeed, there is much truth in what the marriage ritual promises: “And if the unselfish spirit of sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to a person in this life.”

“The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the knob on the volume can be turned left.”, the old joke says, The gift of children, we’ve found, becomes , in God’s good time, a reward of mature adults, able to stand on their own. They enrich your twilight years with the warmth they give back.

For that one is thankful. For wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with the years. In far too many people, you find that “age just shows up by itself.” .

We’ve also been specially blessed in that, the spouses of our children, without exception, have been caring persons. They cherish grandchildren. That is a special joy. “When one advances in years, God compensates by giving grandchildren.”

L: “Where are the other nine?,” the Master asked after only cured leper offered thanks. We appreciate that you are here to join our family , in giving thanks.

Over the decades, we’ve been blessed with many friends who have been kind to us. It is not possible to list them all. But in acknowledging your warmth and affection, we say to all of you: Your deeds made concrete for us what Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: “In every act of kindness, you come face to face with God.”.

One thing we’ve also learned over the past 45 years, is : God gives gifts without end. But they are never quite what we expect. Invariably, they turn out always to be something better than we hoped for. “We can only dream of things too good to be true; God has a habit of giving things too true to be false”.

J & L : Grey hair not withstanding, we hope to fight “happily ever after.”

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