1952: before Barbie, Elvis, color television, microwave ovens, push button phones, Tupperware, The Beatles, facebook, polyester clothing, Bic pens, zip loc bags, $100 tennis shoes, $50,000 cars and trucks, and children with their own cell phones. And there is so much more.
"What is this world coming to?" they would surely have said had they known what would unfold over the years to come. But they did not know, and that is part of the blessing. There is a place for innocence in our lives.
58 years ago my parents married as two young lovers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Only 19 and 20, they found each other early and so began a lifetime together, building hopes and dreams on the only foundation they had: a shared faith and commitment to build a family together. They were undaunted by obstacles that would derail many today.
While they had no money, they had the talent and drive to work hard and persevere during some very lean years. I have seen the physical copies of her handwritten budgets from the early 1950's showing enough money every few months for my mom to buy a 75-cent tube of lipstick or rouge. And drugstore lipstick starts around $7.50 today! But we know about inflation, and I am not stunned by that price disparity alone. The beauty is how they worked together....as a team....and through many years....to accomplish this task of building a family and life together. She did not demand that she needed more than $.75. She knew what was available and worked together to determine how to manage it. My mom was always and is still an excellent manager of resources. She is capable and trustworthy.
I cannot help but contrast this to the young moms I have heard who complain that their husbands do not give them enough money, compared to others of their friends. I hear so many folks today talk - and I have done my share, I confess - of pitting themselves against their spouses as though they were two opponents sparring instead of two partners working together to accomplish a common goal. We can totally miss the boat with this attitude.
They had the emotional support from loving family members who believed in them. This is no small task. Each couple who marries has the potential to be successful and grow together in unity, though statistically over half of them will be divorced in a few years. We covenant to support new couples in our families, to undergird them and help equip them to weather the storms they will inevitably face. But naming storms is not the task of a newlywed; they are more inclined to name dreams and face an uncharted journey in their boat with arms linked and eyes forward.
Somewhere along the way Life happens.
When we say 'for better or for worse,' we do not think it will get worse.
When we say 'for richer and for poorer,' we do not think we'll become poorer.
When we say 'in sickness and in health,' we do not expect to become sick.
The wise couple learns how to face their reality - and sure and certain stormy weather - and remain together in their little boat. Sometimes it calls for a pail when we take on more than we think we can withstand. Sometimes we need a shelter in a storm. Do we know where to turn? Do we have a compass setting for a safe harbor - a place or person to help us and restore our bearings until we are seaworthy again? We can help be that port in the storm for one another when we are willing. And we can help steer one another toward Jesus, Lover of our souls, whose resources are never depleted and whose ability to love is not based on performance or mood.
I am thankful for 58 years of marriage in my parents' lives, and for their example of working to overcome the odds against this feat in our society. My sister in law said today, "I think they are over the hump."
I think so too.
May you have smooth sailing in the year ahead, and, as the old Irish blessing says, may the wind be always at your back.
I love you more than you can imagine.
Image taken from a 1880's marriage certificate. Graphics Fairy.