Off the Press

August 7, 2012

By Kathleen R. Merrill

Kathleen Merrill
Press managing editor

It started with a photo, years ago, a sepia-toned 8-by-10 that someone sent in about their 50th anniversary. I don’t remember the couple’s name anymore, but I remember their faces beaming as they looked into a camera and smiled.

They sent some information with the photo and asked if we could run a small announcement. I instead asked a reporter to write a story.

How do people stay married that long? What’s their secret? Are they happy? And what have their lives together been like?

Those were things I wanted to know.

Since then, I can’t count how many stories we’ve done about couples who have been married 40, 50, 60 and even 70 years. It amazes me, in an age where the reported average is one divorce for every two marriages, that some couples manage to stay together, and do it happily, for longer than many people have even been alive.

And I love the photos people provide us of their lives along the way.

There are tales of sorrow, of separation because of jobs or war, the death of children who parents expected to outlive them. But there are also tales of joy.

I especially love the things people say when they talk about how they’ve stayed together. They’re almost like a rule book:

  • “We’ve always been together and I wouldn’t have it any other way,”
  • “I don’t know what I would do without her,”
  • “Don’t go to bed mad at each other, always make up before you go to sleep,”
  • “Go on dates together,”
  • “Between the kids and the pets, remember who you’re married to is the most important,”
  • “Remember your vows and stick to them.”

My personal favorite is the many variations of the basic “We’re best friends.”

Thankfully, these stories override the garbage people see on television. You know what I’m talking about, “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and all of the other programs that run ad nauseum about people allegedly falling in love. Ugh.

If anyone followed the “advice” that comes from such shows they wouldn’t get past the starting gate, let alone to the finish line.

It seems that many people these days go into marriage thinking, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, we can always get a divorce.”

Now I’m not saying people should stay with abusers or in other really bad situations. But what happened to commitment and sticking it out for better or worse? Or trying to make the worse get better?

Whenever my optimism is flagging about relationships, I look at those couples in the pages of our newspapers and I feel buoyed. And I bet our readers do, too. Thanks, couples, for sharing your stories with us!

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