Yesterday, my boyfriend's parents celebrated their 37th anniversary. It saddens me that so many couples have lost the opportunity to celebrate double digit anniversaries due to divorce. I was talking to my mom yesterday as she opened her Christmas gifts from me. One the books I gave her was about retirement. She was skimming through it and reading different headings to me. One had to do with adjusting to all the time with your spouse. My mom made a comment to the affect of, "Where's the chapter on finding a spouse?"
My stepdad and step-step mom celebrate their 15th anniversary today. The parents of another friend celebrate their 35th anniversary next month. As I get older, I see more and more of a disparity in the lives of my friends' divorced v. married parents. Our parents are baby boomers and many, if not most, are now retired. Those who are married seem to be enjoying the time to reflect and enjoy their years of partnership. Those who are divorced seem more reflective as they wonder if they should have taken different roads. Retirement is more difficult when you've had to financially have to start over a time or two. And emotionally, facing the twilight years can be daunting when you approach them alone.
When my younger sister married, she said something to me that has stuck with me. In fact, it made it into my book. We were talking about the idea of marriage snapshots, somewhat tangible concrete pictures of what we want our life to look like in the future, so we can work towards them, even when--especially when--we are creating that which we haven't experienced. I gave the example of a hallway in a friend's parents' home. The hallway was lined with pictures, first of grandparents and ancestors, then with the couple's wedding picture, then with baby pictures, annual family portraits--some formal, some not, and other visual representation of the family history. I love the continuity that hallway conveys, and I told her I want to have a similar hallway or stairway when I marry. I asked if she had any marriage snapshots, and she said, "I want to celebrate my 50th anniversary." I love that! Approaching marriage in the long-term view like that will help my sister and her husband overcome the inevitable struggles they'll face together.
I was thinking of friend recently who has been going through a rough patch with her husband. With all the milestone anniversaries around me, along with a few weddings, I thought it would be fun idea for a newlywed couple to get frames for several upcoming anniversaries (5th, 10th, 25th, etc.) In the frame, they could write the date they will celebrate those milestones. They could also talk together about what they think life might look like for them at that point in their marriage. As they celebrate each milestone, they could replace the date with a photo, and read their predictions. They could make a note of what their life is really like at that point, and in doing so, create a bit of history for the next generation.
I'd love to hear about marriage snapshots you might have.
p.s. Happy 37th, Jan & Kitty!