In praise of Lifelong Love - Carolyn McSparren

October 29 was my forty-seventh wedding anniversary. Amazing! And we were together for two years before we married, so we’re getting close to fifty. My husband’s aunt and uncle celebated their sixty-fifth anniversary. They must have married right out of the cradle. The principle of my school—a great southern lady—refused to say how old she was when she married, but she did admit she grew two inches the first year. She celebrated sixty plus anniversaries too.
These days there is a bunch of talk about ‘serial monogamy,’ which seems to mean that a couple stays together until one or the other of them wants out to go find somebody else more exiting. In many marriage ceremonies where the couple writes their own vows, they don’t bother with ‘for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health until death us do part.’ They seem to be agreeing to stay married so long as things go well, there’s enough money, and nobody gets disastrously sick. In other words until the going gets tough or uncomfortable or sexually boring. My mother (who was divorced before she married my step-father) didn’t believe in “amicable divorces.” If you were still friendly, she believed, then stay married and work it out. If not, then run and don’t look back. Except to wonder why on earth you got married in the first place.
But it does take two decent people to stay together. In that great movie Friendly Persuasion, when asked for his daughter’s hand, Gary Cooper asks the young man, “I know you love her, but do you like her?”
And along with liking goes respect. Beyond the passion, do you please one another? And I don’t mean just sexually. Do your views of the world mesh? I don’t mean do you agree about everything. That would be terribly boring. But do you trust your spouse is an honorable person?
Do you still worry when your partner is late on a rainy evening? Do you still feel relief (and then anger that he didn’t call) when you hear his footstep? Would you remember how he likes his coffee even if you were separated for years? Do you trust that you have one another’s backs?
I fell in love at first sight. But that first flush only opens the door to explore the relationship. From there on in, it’s hard and often agonizing work to maintain. But to know that he is somewhere in the world and I am not with him would be impossible to conceive.
Despite the inevitable problems—and there have been doozies—we are still together and still love one another. As I said earlier. Amazing!


  1. Congratulations on having found the right one, the one you still want to be with.

  2. Congratulations. We're working on 43 and yes, I think you're absolutely right.

  3. And my congratulations, as well! Growing old together is a privilege. Ron says he fell in love with me at first sight, but I resisted for all I was worth - I think because I knew I was in love and all that meant as far as ever being my own woman again. But, there was a certain freedom in finally admitting it. Weird that love can be so tyrannical and so liberating at the same time. Nice blog, Carolyn.

  4. Carolyn--belated happy anniversary. I was friends with Denny's sisters before I met him. He was in the Marine Corp. His sisters took me to the airport to meet him when he came home for one sister's wedding. Their aim was to break up a relationship he had with someone they didn't like. We hit it off and by the time his sister was married at the end of that week, we'd decided to get married. It was interesting as my long-time friends actually went to see my mom and said who is this guy, and she's being hasty, and it will never last. Over the years we got a kick out of that as all of those friends are on at least husband number 3. We were like two halves that meshed. I'm convinced if we'd had the opportunity for another 50 years together, we would have lasted that long. But like you say, Carolyn, there are always ups and downs and sometimes marriage isn't a walk in the park. And I feel bad for people who really struggle and do have to give up.


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