What a milestone! Recently my wife and I had the privilege of attending a family celebration for my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. For several weeks my sisters and wife secretly planned a party to honor our parents as they approached six decades together. On a Saturday night at the home of one of my sisters we gathered from near and far to recognize this achievement with lively conversation, food and presents.
Being oldest of my siblings, I was called upon by my first sister to lead the toast. How does one describe everything one feels in just a few sentences for such an occasion? Parents not only give us life but nurture it lovingly and patiently for decades before we even appreciate their sacrifice. For my toast I decided to give focus to the fact that so few marriages today experience the blessing of reaching the 60th year milestone.
It's estimated that about half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. More still are terminated by premature death, murder, abandonment or mysterious disappearance. For a married couple to survive these threats and to reach this exalted marker is deserving of celebration and reflection on the lessons it inspires.
My parents met a few months after the end of World War II, when my dad was stationed in Illinois while in the US Army. After being discharged, he returned to New Jersey, his home state. A couple years later they reunited and married in my mother's home state of Illinois in late December. Following a brief honeymoon, they moved to New Jersey to begin married life together. It was there that my sisters and I were later born and raised.
We grew up in the decades of the 50s and 60s in an America which enjoyed victorious post-war stability, progress and plenty, but also survived the tumultuous, transformative, unorthodox and anti-establishment convulsions of the period epitomized by 1968.
My parents, who had been born in the 1920s and lived through the Great Depression and WW II, found it as challenging as most parents raising progeny who seemed to challenge every norm they had been taught or absorbed. But, with patience and longsuffering, they refused to abandon us to our own devices and stood by us until we, the younger generation, came to recognize the dangers of our tempting peer pressures or at least rebounded from resulting misadventures.
Having now progressed from anti-establishment to establishment, we, their children, can finally appreciate the long-term value of stability, tradition and broad perspective. I suppose this is what many would call "maturity." We can now exercise a long, rear-view analysis that the next generation has yet to fully experience, understand or appreciate. But they will – in time.
Only now, having raised four children of our own who are now giving my wife and me grandchildren, can we begin to truly appreciate what our parents enjoyed and endured to give us a start in life and lay down some roots of our own to continue the human saga by generating the succeeding generations.
Now, as I think about my parents' marital achievement, I realize how blessed I am to have both parents to enjoy at the same time when we visit the house where I grew up and which they have owned for close to 60 years. Radio commentator Paul Harvey's long-running "Tournament of Roses" segment of his broadcast, which honors long-lived marriages, affirms these unions are truly worthy of acknowledgement, praise and celebration.
Why not come to understand how you can have a happy marriage by requesting our free booklet, God's Plan for a Happy Marriage. You, too, can increase the likelihood of reaching a marriage milestone like my parents.