Celebrating 50 Years! Lessons Learned From My Parents
by Lizzy Smith
December 15, 2014
It's official: My parents have achieved a huge milestone, being married for 50 years! We celebrated on Saturday night with a party. The food was delicious, the house decorated beautifully, the kids all behaved and nothing got broken. And as I watched my parents together, I was emotional. The entire evening, I choked back tears as I watched them together. Their union has produced three children and five grandchildren, a few homes (all paid off), and, overall, quite a nice life. They travel extensively-- in a few weeks, they are leaving for Antarctica. They hit the gym almost every day to walk the track. They go to the symphony and for rides up the canyon. They go to church and worship God. When one is sick, the other drives to the doctor, picks up meds, and ensures recovery. My parents are surrounded by family and friends. They certainly aren't lonely and, in fact, usually their home is a revolving door of people coming in and out. While they aren't wealthy, they are by no means lacking for anything. It's not a bad life. How many of us are that lucky?
Well, now that I think about it, luck has nothing to do with it. They have worked hard, planned well, lived conservatively, and they are (overall) on the same page-- working towards the same goals. If only I had chosen my husband better because divorce is traumatic and expensive. Divorce for me meant pitching the house, suffering emotionally, getting cancer, hurting the children, and taking a financial bath. Only if things are really super horrible at home is divorce worth it (and in my case, it was necessary—you can’t fix substance abuse and sticking around is horror for everyone involved).
I can't imagine having made a wise choice in my pick of husbands. Think about it. Together, we could have purchased a home and perhaps paid it off in 15 or 30 years. We would have children living in an intact home. Maybe we could retire early. Christmas, summer breaks, Thanksgivings, graduations, and birthday parties-- all of them celebrated together. No fighting over assets and paying enormous sums to attorneys. And going into the Golden Years as a couple, picking vacations and meals together. Watching grandchildren coming into the world without having to plan visits around when the other parent might be showing up. Divorce and split families leaves complications and victims in its wake. It's not pretty. Then again, neither is the journey towards getting a divorce.
Bad marriages are the true personification of Evil. Divorces are, too. I know a few friends who have had amicable splits but they are few and far between. For the most part, it's amazing how awful adults can be towards each other. It is tragic how two people who at one point, liked each other enough to make children, can become enemies. To the extreme of murder; to the lesser extreme of destroying reputations, lives, and compromising our own standards of decency. I am no different. My marriage and ensuing divorce brought out some of my worse traits. I learned what rage and blind hatred feel like and it is terrible. Learning to heal and find peace and comfort took time. I can honestly say that instead of wishing terrible things for my ex-husband, I've come to the point where I pray for him, for his recovery, and for his wellbeing. But it took over two years to get there.
As I look ahead to the future, I hope I've learned from my past mistakes and from the example of my parents. I am working hard to ensure that my next mate is an amazing man, and my next marriage is a happy one. Here's what I'm doing differently: