Marriage for the long haul

 


My folks just celebrated 53 years of marriage in the beginning of December. Wow. Over 50 years with one person. Staggering. I am proud of them for being able to take the words, “For better or worse,” to the heart.

Marriage isn’t easy from my experience, which wasn’t really very long, especially compared to my parents.

I can say, I found being married gave me a bond to someone that really wasn’t there when we were dating or even engaged. Marriage was a shelter for me to come to when the world was tough. My ex-wife was great about allowing me to think I could take on the world because she was right by my side to help in any way she could.

The breakup was tough as I guess most divorces are, but I never regretted being married because I understand the grace marriage brings to one’s life.

I have said more than once, no one walks down the aisle thinking it isn’t going to work out. Unfortunately, even with the highest hopes, marriages break down and husband and wife split.

So I truly marvel at couples like my parents who last for years.

Marriage, to me, is such a big deal, I have not been able to do go into matrimony more than once. It is not for religious reasons or anything remotely similar, but rather, given how awesome wedlock is, I have never found another person, I felt I would have been a good partner.


Partnership is the key in marriage from what I have witnessed over the years.

My folks have had their fights, but they are still together.

They are not only my only example of how having a strong partnership makes a strong marriage.

My years on the east coast had me exposed to several families where the parents stuck together through thick and thin. The Clark and Houst families immediately come to mind.

Mr. and Mrs. Clark, who are still alive, have been together over 60 years raised six kids and still live in the same house I used to visit when I was in high school. That was a while back, I might add.

The Housts are not on earth any longer, but their son is one my best friends and he attributes his parents’ loving ways as being the bedrock for how he approached marriage. George sadly lost his wife in a tragic accident a couple years back after 20 years together. He and I have talked about how outstanding marriage is when all is well, and I still feel his pain for his loss.

In Asia, I got more exposure to how marriage is a partnership. I won’t say family is more important in Chinese culture than in the USA, but divorce was not common when I first arrived about 25 years ago. Things have changed since then and as Asia has gotten more modern and open, divorce is more common. Still, living over there made me aware I wasn’t good husband material for any of the women I dated.

When I first came to Carbon County, I came with another of my best friends, Darby Doll. My visit was three weeks and I stayed out on Cow Creek at the Hoemstead, owned by Buck and Ardyce Hoem.

Darby was their first grandson and it would be fair to say they doted on him. It was not uncommon for him to stay with them for a summer, where he would help Buck with the fish hatchery on the Hoemstead property.

Buck and Ardyce obviously loved each other tremendously by how they acted when they were together at the end of the evening. She fussed over him and he in return would ask about her day. It was a ritual from what I could glean from being around them.

They got married when she was 16 and he was 18. They raised four children and if you ask Darby, he will say they helped raise him also. This couple had a partnership in every sense of the word.

I will never forget going to the Hotel Wolf with the Hoems and Darby to have dinner, where Buck misunderstood someone nearby and was under the impression, an unfavorable remark had been made about his wife.

If you ever met Buck, you would know he was not a small man and imposing even in his 70s. It was quickly sorted out and Buck apologized to the person, but I can’t fail to remember his words explaining why he lost it.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t stand to hear anyone say anything bad about the woman I love,” Buck said, “I just see red.”

He did see red, I might add. Buck was ready for fisticuffs with the person who was a much younger man.

I recall thinking, it was excellent to see a love so strong after many years together. I don’t know for sure, but I believe they also broke the 60 year mark.

Sadly, both are now departed, but their love they had for each other, was not lost to anyone who was around them for any length of time.

I guess the example they set rubbed off on their grandson.

I met Darby in Taiwan when he first came over with his then girlfriend, Trish Vietti. There are probably a few Saratogans that might remember her. Anyway, after a bit of time, Trish and Darby broke up. I found myself out and about with him almost every night at some nightclub until about two in the morning. Amazing what you can put your body through when you are young.

So for a couple years, Darby and I played hard, neither of us really serious about anyone.

Well, there was one lady that did sort of charm me, but Kathy is a column unto herself. High maintenance would be an understatement in describing this woman and we were definitely not partner material.

During this time, Darby dated one type of female—adorable China dolls, who were more concerned about clothes and the newest trends. I never saw him really serious about any of them. Then Stephanie Huang came into his life. She is beautiful, rarely wears makeup and is smart, smart, smart.

I joke I went on their second date. Actually it is true. But before that date, I remember Darby and me grabbing lunch at a sandwich shop and him telling me he had met someone he really liked. I nodded my head like an understanding friend should, but I thought she would be history in a month.

Little did I know, a few years later, I would be best man at their wedding.

I have been around the Doll couple in Taipei, Denver, Shanghai, Hong Kong and even Saratoga and they are one of the strongest husband and wife teams I have known.

I have seen countless moments where they demonstrate their love for each other. I lived with them in Shanghai for about 3 weeks (no idea why it is always 3 weeks) before finding my own apartment. Stephanie was seven months pregnant with their first and only child, which most women will say is a trying time in pregnancy. I never saw her get grouchy at life or her husband, but I remember her hating how big she was and not able to sit or sleep comfortably.

Anyway, seeing them day-to-day, I realized what a strong marriage they had.

They both raise their daughter, Delilah with hands-on care. This second grader can flow in out of English, Taiwanese and Mandarin. She also has a handle on Cantonese and her piano playing is prodigy level. I am convinced Delilah does so well because she comes from a couple who are committed to their marriage.

My folks staying together for so long and seeing great marriages first hand (and there are so many more examples I could give) makes me a strong believer in the institution.

Congrats to my folks for their anniversary and a congrats to all couples who are also going the distance in their marriage.

I have all the respect in the world for you.

 

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