READY: Celebrating my golden anniversary and remembering

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

Next week, Frank and I will celebrate with our usual wedding anniversary supper. The menu will be beans and hot dogs (no buns) with a diet Pepsi. That tradition has varied only a little since 1965. Except last year and this year, Frank has marked the date from his promised mansion at a different address.

Although we were always a little parsimonious (Frank was just plain “cheap”; I’m just “frugal”), we ate this meager meal for another reason. We got married on a whim, not really thinking about the seriousness of the commitment or anything beyond that Friday night. The preacher had only two days notice while my mother had only a week to talk me out of it. But both were good sports, showing up to the church along with a few family members.

There was no bridal shower, no reception, and no honeymoon to St. Croix. Instead, the wedding party went out to dinner together while Frank and I opted to drive to the family cabin on the Ebro River to go fishing for the weekend. Both of us had summer jobs, and we had to get back by Monday. That was important because we had $65 between us and a 1957 Ford with 100,000+ miles and a self-destructive attitude. And even though we’d be returning in the fall as juniors to Troy State University, we weren’t too smart. We didn’t think about stocking the cabin in advance with food, drink, and bug spray. “Oh, well,” we said on our way there. “We’ll just buy supplies when we get to Ebro.” Little did we know that the one grocery store in town closed at six on Friday. So, that’s why our wedding night supper was beans, bunless hot dogs, and a shared Pepsi bought at a gas station/bait shop.  

Annually, we remembered and celebrated our reckless spontaneity and our impoverished beginnings with this same supper.

I don’t believe in “dumb luck.” So, it must be divine intervention that we remained married for almost 49 years. Either that or God kept us together for His own amusement by watching the dynamics of two mismatched people.

After all the years spent with the same person, I still have no wisdom to share for a long, happy relationship. But I recently read some advice in an article emailed me by an old boyfriend. He’s on his third wife, so I guess he could relate to some of the following:

Just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other, and just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do love each other.                         

No matter how much you love someone, they’re going to hurt you sometimes.

Love must continue to grow, or it will soon die.

You can say or do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

You should always leave your beloved with loving words, It may be the last time you see each other.

Keep going long after you think you can’t.

You have a right to be angry with your spouse but no right to be sarcastic or cruel.

Forgive each other.

Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

Compliment more than you criticize.

No keeping secrets from each other.

Don’t use the words “always” or “never” during an argument, and don’t begin a sentence with “You” (as in “You never spend any time with me.”)

Never belittle your spouse in front of others, even if you meant it as a joke.

Have two T.V.’s 

Looking over the list, I believe that most of these matrimonial tips must be learned the hard way. Frank and I were guilty of committing several of these “don’t-do’s,” and it took almost a half century of trial and error to get it even partly right. At least, enough that we could accept each other “as is” and overlook each other’s irritating habits. After 30 years or so, I finally stopped scolding him about leaving the toilet seat up and squeezing the toothpaste from the middle instead of the bottom. And he finally let go of his annoyance when I drove the car on “fumes” because I hated filling the tank. Eventually, He even forgave my utter dislike of fish when he was a charter boat captain. I gave the fish he brought home to the neighbors and told him I’d prefer he catch a 40 pound lasagna for supper.

If I could have him back for this year’s anniversary supper, I’d happily serve the beans and hot dogs with a side of fried fish.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.