This is the final installment of my blog series on some of the reasons we have managed to remain married for over fifty years. (I know some people think it’s about time for it to end.)
5. Humor and Respect
For many years, I’ve told Larry I keep him around because he makes me laugh. There is a great deal of truth in the statement.
I was raised in a family of dour Scots. They took life VERY seriously. I was an extrovert. They were mostly introverts. Until I met my dad’s younger sister after years of separation, I never knew where my personality came from. (It was from the Irish side of his family.)
Aunt Mary Evelyn was absent from our lives growing up. After Dad died, we lost track of nearly all of his family. Years later, she contacted me, and we began to spend time together. She was hysterically funny. (I didn’t get all of that gene, but I was a great audience.) We laughed at the same jokes and quoted the same quotes.
But I really learned about humor from Larry’s family.
His grandfather, Harry Burton, was one of the funniest people I ever met. Harry’s sister, Margaret, was also a kick.
Larry’s brother, Casey, inherited the Burton comedic gene as did their cousin, Jim Tedford. Any of them could have made a living as stand-up comics.
Larry’s dad had a more subtle sense of humor, but he was also very funny. During the years when Larry’s mother was bedridden, we visited every Sunday. I stayed with Mother while Larry and Casey got Dad out of the room for a bit. One of my favorite memories is hearing the three of them laughing in the next room.
Casey has the ability to find humor even in serious circumstances. He is able to see the irony and ridiculousness in the human condition. The lady at the mortuary, where we met to make Dad’s final arrangements, thanked us for making her day. Dad died at 94 years old, after a long and happy life. He had made all the arrangements himself, so we were relieved of decision-making—except for the flowers. When she asked what we wanted, we looked at each other.
Finally, I said, “Dad wasn’t really much of a flower guy.”
This set Casey off on a series of speculations and references to their mother’s arrangements five years earlier. (She had obviously picked out what she wanted, and we had all enjoyed a laugh at how predictable her choices had been.) We finally decided on a military tribute—the perfect choice. But we also shared great memories and a few laughs in the process.
Larry had to teach me how to be less serious, and I am forever grateful to him for the lesson. He continues to make me laugh, so I’ll keep him for a while longer.
Humor can sometimes be cutting and insulting, however. I know couples who use humor as an excuse to berate each other. Not funny.
Early in our marriage, we were reminded to treat each other with the same respect we would give to our friends. It is easy to get testy with each other when circumstances don’t go our way. (I am sometimes guilty of this!) When I hear short words come out, I try to immediately remind Larry I’m upset at the circumstances, not at him.
For years, when I fixed a meal, Larry thanked me for it. He still does, even after the thousands of meals we’ve shared. Now that he does some of the meal preparation, I return the favor. I genuinely appreciate his efforts, and I tell him so.
I probably could add even more reasons we’re still together, but I’m most grateful for the examples of his grandparents and parents, who showed us how to do it.
We’re here because they showed us the way.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any other secrets?