How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
I feel confident despite her strict Victorian upbringing, Elizabeth Barrett Browning could easily have counted 50 ways she cherished her beloved husband, Robert Browning.
Had she not died an untimely death, their marriage would surely have lasted 50 years.
For us Zoomers, we are more likely to quote Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.
Like so many baby boomers, we are opting out of the bonds of matrimony that bound us but no longer serve us. Marriage is not necessarily a covenant with God as an acquaintance suggested in our brief conversation in the Save-On Foods parking lot.
We are rushing to the divorce court in droves, preferring a life of singledom over servitude; of adventure instead of adversity; of reinvention rather than resignation.
What makes a marriage last at all, let alone 50 years?
In a recent issue of Zoomer magazine, an article by Leanne Delap entitled Making Love Last speaks to the modern-day love match of actress Candice Bergen and her late husband, French film director Louis Malle.
Bergen has written a book called A Fine Romance. Their love match was also abruptly halted by an untimely death.
In one of his love letters to her during their many separations as a result of their individual, hectic careers, Malle says “Let’s get together, my love (and) experience quiet, isolation, silence together. And let’s love each other, let me enjoy what I miss so much when I am away from you.”
Ah, the nostaligic love letter… tender words that travel from one’s heart to pen then paper to be savoured like a great wine. A far cry from a cursory text!
One way to make a marriage last. As well, trying hard to making each other happy. A large dose of passion. Respect. And separate interests.
A happy marriage… easier said than done.
Or is it?
I know of a local love match that has lasted 50 years. Neither person has celebrity status nor has written a memoir. But their love and marriage has endured since 1965, when an adorable, rebellious 18-year-old girl eloped with her handsome man of 21. They crossed the border and got married.
Although they both grew up in White Rock, they moved to Calgary to start their married life, working tirelessly in a business they started together.
Hard work, endless hours and teamwork.
However, things didn’t work out as they had planned. Broke and bankrupt, they returned to White Rock in the late 1980s in their Cadillac with their two young children in tow.
Undaunted by this setback, they started over and started a new business. Her father had taught her, “There is no such word as can’t.”
Again, they worked indefatigably with determination as a team.
Today they are successful and financially secure and could both retire if they wanted to but choose not to. He golfs. He has an excellent handicap.She runs. Marathons.
Her mother’s words accompany her every time she earns another medal: “Never let age be an excuse not to do something.”
In April, she completed the Boston Marathon for the third time (or was it the fourth?) and came in 22nd in her age group.
He cooks – and what a chef! He makes the best crème caramel this side of Paris. Personally, I think that is the secret to their long-term marriage! They like each other and support and respect each other.
Happy 50th wedding anniversary, Lynne and Hugh.
How do I love thee? These two lovebirds can tell you.
April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.