Live, Learn, Love.
Last week, I shared a story from one of my favorite couples about their first year of marriage. Today, you'll hear from another one of my favorite couples about their fifty years of marriage.
The couple sharing their story today have impacted my life from the very beginning in incredible ways. They have raised a family I am so proud to be a part of and left a legacy of love that I aspire to have myself someday. They are my grandparents and I'm so blessed to have them in my life.
Even though I grew up in Arizona, far away from Northern Virginia where my grandparents live, so many childhood memories include them. We saw them at least about once a year, and they always made me feel so loved, cherished and special. I remember sitting with my grandma on the couch in their living room and the sound of her voice as she read to me, I remember how all of the play kitchen toys smelled like cinnamon and allspice because she gave me empty spice containers. My grandpa always has his pockets full of peppermints to pass down the aisle to every one of us at church, he always shakes everyone's hand and introduces us proudly to his friends-- he knows and loves everyone. He always greets us with our first and middle names in his booming voice and always asks for a hug or a kiss, and won't let you get through the front door without one.
I remember picking blackberries near their house as a kid with their miniature schnauzer tagging along, exploring the creek in their backyard and catching crawfish, playing rowdy games of pounce around the kitchen table when everyone's in town, watching slideshows of all their old pictures and laughing at the hilarious haircuts and fashions throughout the years, driving my grandma's new convertible when I was 16 and so jealous she had a cooler car than the minivan I got to use, countless cookouts on their deck with the best food, Christmases with a live tree and more presents than we ever asked for and Grandpa's seemingly bottomless Santa sack of extra gifts for everyone.
They took me on one of the best trips of my life after I graduated high school-- 8 days in France that I'll never forget. They helped me buy my first car, they gave me a generous gift of spending money during my summer in London, they gave me old couches when I got my first apartment on my own...they are the greatest gift givers I know, and I'm so deeply thankful for their generous and selfless hearts.
My grandparents make everyone they meet feel loved. Whether through sending Christmas cards to friends they haven't seen in years or cooking feasts for the ones in their home or giving gifts or finding quality time to spend with each of us, I know we all know without a shadow of a doubt how deeply they love and care for us all, near or far.
Every time our family gets together (which thankfully is so much more often now that we live within two hours of them), I love hearing the stories of my grandpa's years in the Air Force and how my mom and my two uncles grew up living in different places around the world. I love hearing about my grandma's childhood on a farm in Ohio and how she and her twin dated the man the other is now married to.
My grandparents are uniquely different as individuals, but together, they are a strong and loving couple and they just recently celebrated fifty years of marriage. We celebrated with a huge party with all of our extended family flying in to town and all of my grandparents' friends gathering to mingle and dance and laugh for hours together. Seeing that ballroom full of people that know and love my grandparents made my heart swell-- they have made lasting impacts on the lives of people young and old all around the world in their lives and through their relationship, and it was such a beautiful thing to see.
Just recently, they went on an RV road trip for two weeks to relive the honeymoon road trip they took 50 years ago, and wrote this story while they were adventuring around New England. How cool is that?!
Their marriage is one I look to and admire, one I hope my future marriage might come close to matching. I love them both so much and am forever thankful to be a part of the wonderful family they've raised.
Here is Kay and Ken's story of their marriage.
In the beginning of our marriage we were just getting used to sharing space with someone else and learning what it was like to accommodate to another's needs and wants. Suddenly you become a twosome and not an individual any more.
Even though I am a twin and grew up sharing home, family, friends and everything else with someone, being married was different. With my twin I felt completely comfortable, like she knew me inside and out, like I knew her. We had always been together, even in the womb, but living with a man that I had only known for a year or so and had limited time with was so different.
We grew up with different patterns of living, different interactions with family members and had different life experiences and tastes. Now, as newlyweds, we needed to learn to adapt our individual lives to someone else. We had to learn how to compromise, give a little, not always do things our way. We had to learn how to appreciate where the other person was coming from, We realized our tastes in decorating our home, the foods we liked to eat, the way we wanted to raise our children and the things we think are important were different from each other. We had to get to know and get along with each other’s group of friends. We also had to make new friends together that we both could enjoy. We became each other's best friend.
Being newlyweds we had to learn patience with each other, how to know when the other person needed more attention, love, and understanding. We had to learn how to share our living space and tolerate differences in what TV shows to watch, what movie to see, what to do in our spare time.
But now, after fifty years, we have adapted totally to each other. We can tell what the other one is thinking, and we sometimes are thinking the exact same thing at the same time because something triggered a similar reaction or thought. We know how to be patient with each other, to know when to give the other one their space, to accomodate to each other in so many ways that we don’t even realize we are accommodating.
We have learned to like similar things and to accept that we won’t be doing certain things we may have done ourselves because we know that it is something the other one wouldn’t enjoy. We do this because we want to please the other person. If we didn’t learn to compromise, adapt, have patience, and most of all love the other person the way they are and not try to change them, our marriage would have fallen apart.
Marriage is a two-way street, both partners need to do these things and find out through trial and error what works for them and their marriage.
In the beginning, passion is strong and it takes little to spark the fire. After fifty years together, the passion has died down a little but the spark is still there and can be rekindled at any time. Each marriage is unique in itself and will require different adjustments to make it work.
There are always ups and downs, good times and bad, in all marriages. But we have learned what works for us and we are happy, fulfilled, still in love and have celebrated 50 wonderful years together.
When we got married we promised to love each other in sickness and in health, for better or worse until death us do part. That is a promise we both took seriously and have kept and will continue to keep.