Monday, August 10, 2015

Celebrating 65 years of Marriage by Shanna Hatfield

A few days ago, my parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

If you're like me, it's almost beyond the ability to fathom sixty-five years of marriage. It's just such a "WOW!" number.

After my mother threatened bodily harm upon me for throwing a surprise 50th anniversary party for them, I asked friends and family to shower them with cards for their 65th anniversary. When I spoke with them yesterday, they'd received almost fifty and were excited at the prospect that more might arrive in the mailbox this week.

As I talked to each of them about the wonderful milestone they reached, I asked what they thought made their marriage successful and lasting.

Mom's response: "Don't let the little stuff bug you, even when you know you're right and he's wrong."

Dad's words of wisdom: "Tolerance. You have to learn to have tolerance. If there's something you don't like, don't focus on it — ignore it. You can't stay married to someone you can't tolerate."

I think they'd both say their marriage hasn't been perfect, far from it. But it's been good and strong.


My parents met their senior year of high school. Dad was the new kid in town, having moved into the area just before school started when my grandparents left behind their peach orchard in Colorado and moved to an eastern Oregon farm.

Dad drove a motorcycle, played the trumpet in the band, lettered in sports and (according to Mom) caught the eye of many girls.

Mom had lived in the area since she was eleven, when my grandparents packed up five kids and a dog in a car and drove all the way from Missouri to their new farm. She loved sports (although the girls only had clubs for athletic endeavors way back then instead of teams), had a flair for sewing and (according to Dad) was full of sass and spunk.

She was also one of the "bathing beauties" chosen to represent the community when a new pool opened in town. (And please don't tell her I shared this photo or there will be one less author in the group when she puts a hit out on me.)

dollie and russ
Their courtship began around the time they graduated in the spring of 1949. Dad spent several months gone with the Navy Reserves, but when he returned, they picked up where they left off.

They were just 19 and 18 when they vowed to love one another for a lifetime.

The day of their wedding, my dad hopped on a train and rode it to town from where he worked a few hours away. Mom was a telephone operator at the time, working a swing shift. She left work at 9 p.m. and hurried to the farm of her soon-to-be in-laws where the wedding would take place.

In the hour before the clock struck midnight, they were joined in marriage in a very simple ceremony. They both wore gray suits, the flowers were gladiolas, and their two-day honeymoon was a camping trip.

Not the stuff of fairy tales, but perhaps, just perhaps, the stuff of a happy ever after.

 I never once wondered or worried about my parents getting divorced. They were a united front against the storms or life as well as the joys of triumphs.

From observing them, I learned a lot about relationships.

Dad has never met a stranger. He is my definition of a "people person" since he can talk to anyone, anytime and leave that person feeling like they've just made a good friend. He's easygoing and lighthearted and a lot of fun.

Mom is the one who wants to take care of everyone, making sure they're fed and comfortable. She's more serious and the one who is always thinking, pondering, worrying.

Somehow, somewhere in those sixty-five years of marriage, they found a balance that works for them. Dad has a great sense of humor (sometimes at Mom's expense) that she's learned to indulge or ignore, as the individual case my warrant. In the last few years, I've particularly noticed how well they work off each others' strengths to overcome their weaknesses. They've given an all new meaning to the term "helpmate" for me.

 As I create characters and build relationships in my stories, I'm grateful for the example my parents have given me of what a real lifelong love looks like.

One that's lasted sixty-five years and is still going strong.
To enter to win a random drawing of a digital copy of The Cowboy's Summer Love, answer this question in the comments below:  What one word of advice for a happy marriage would you share with a new bride?
 Winner will be notified Wednesday, August 12.

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen one story at a time. Her bestselling sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with realistic characters.
When she isn’t writing or consuming unhealthy amounts of chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller, and fondly recalls the days of her youth spent on an Eastern Oregon farm.

She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your parents' beautiful story, Shanna. I promise not to tell your mom about the bathing beauty photo. :)

  2. Love the story! Thanks for sharing, Shanna.

  3. I tell them, marriage is not about the good times, they are not as often as one would want. Marriage is about the time you work together in whatever you are doing. It's how you act when life throws you these curve balls. It is easy to be in love. In is not as easy to stay in love. Sometimes you won't like each other, but that doesn't mean you don't love each other. Sometimes he will love you, sometimes you will love him, and sometimes both of love each other. Relationships are work, they are not something you throw away like trash. You pick up what is broke and fix what is broken. I love your parents story. My grandparents were married just a little longer and it reminds me of their story.

    1. Love your response, Jodie! Such great (and true) words of wisdom! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks for the lovely story. My grandparents enjoyed 74 years together, so I wish your parents more happy years together. I would tell a new bride to look beyond the wedding to the marriage. So many brides are too wrapped up in the perfect day that they lose sight of the years to come. Love is a choice, so chose to keep the relationship with your spouse filled with respect, trust and patience.

    1. Oh, wow, Cathy! Seventy-four years... that is awesome! What wonderful advice to give a new bride. Thank you so much!

  5. It is the main aspect that is left when other things have all been planned and packed up. After the wedding, it is the wedding pictures and videos that are looked at by everyone.

  6. What a great read! Photos will always be great memories. This is why we have photo booths now. They leave us with great treasures!

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