Making Marriage Last

anniversary 003I am a curious person.

Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness– Bryant McGill
This could be my mantra, and my friends always point me out for those wanting to know about random things (I just know shit, what can I say. But the world is a fascination of mine). I like to ask questions. To learn about others. To listen. To make someone think. To deepen connections. To create stories.

Today would be my grandma Dreher (Carole) and my grandpa Dreher (Charles) 57 wedding anniversary. That is a long time to be married, especially when today’s marriage rates are dismal. I in no way think my grandparents relationship was perfect, but what relationship is? Part of what I am in awe of in my family is the commitment. My grandma and grandpa Paulin have been married over 50 as well, my parents have been married for going on 34 years, and my sister has been happily married for 6 years. It takes dedication to be married for so long.  I’m curious. And my family are great storytellers. So my curiosity today brought me a story, the story of Carole and Chuck.

March 1955 Carole and Chuck met at Terre Haute Business College. Chuck initially drew Carole in with his beautiful hair (and it really was magnificent, later on once it turned white it was notorious). After their first date in September it was a quick courtship, leading to a small wedding on March 11, 1956 in Clinton, Indiana. Just them and two friends Davy Lee and Genie Goodwin. Nothing lavish or large, but a simple unity of two young people (Carole was 18 and Chuck was 25). The seven of usTogether they had 5 beautiful/Helion children together. Two chiefs (both oldest children) working to make their family work.

Today I sat in the kitchen with mom and grandma to ask questions. How were you able to stay married so long? Procrastination. This may seem like a peculiar answer, but to me it makes complete sense. In the midst of a fight or differences, we may get heated. We may want a divorce. But their procrastination gave them time to cool off, so they balanced again. Hmm….balance? I think balance is a key to not just relationships but life. Further questioning made me realize the balance they did have. Learning early on the relationship who at excelled with what really helped. Grandma took care of money and budgeting (something she excels at). Money can be a wrecker in marriages, so imagining never arguing over money? Grandpa was a bomb cleaner and so on went the delegation of strengths. Grandpa’s willingness to be a taste tester (he would eat anything) and resourceful creativeness made grandma appreciate him more. What would my grandpa say about he loved most about grandma? My grandfather was not always the best of saying how he felt about you, but he would brag to others about how wonderful you are or how proud he was. He would say grandma is smart, and talented. She can sew and cook. She is a husband’s dream.

We lost my grandfather several years ago, due to drinking, which would be grandma’s biggest qualm: the Drinking. But that doesn’t mean that is the only aspect of him. What do you miss about him? His cleaning. His yard work. Traveling. Spring Break08 008They loved to travel, this picture was taken grandpa’s last year, by me, on our trip to Disney World. Grandma loved to plan the trips and grandpa loved to go and meet people.

What can I, what can we learn from them? I asked my mother some questions as well. What did you learn/take away from your parents’ relationship. Hard work, communication, and the importance of family.This is something instilled in me from the beginning. I come from a tight-knit family. I grew up next to my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They are always there when I need them. Even if we may seem/are dysfunctional, we still value each other. We may not always be great at expressing how much we appreciate one another, but we love each other. And as my aunt Cheryl pointed out, we have an availability. If we need something all we have to do is ask and someone is there.

What did I learn from my grandparents? I learned that marriage is a commitment. Sometimes we’re great at, and often times we struggle, but you never give up. You work for it, because that person and love are worth it. BALANCE. This is something I take from my parents as well. Relationships have to have balance.Like the traveling, my grandparents balanced each beautifully in so many ways. Marriage isn’t perfect, but that is part of its beauty. Life is challenging. Where would the fun be if it was easy? Don’t give up on something or someone just because it’s hard sometimes.

I wanted to share this today 1. because I’m curious, but because family is so important to me. Because I love these moments in life, laughing and telling stories with people I love. Because I’m grateful. Because I want to learn more about people. And because I want to remember this.

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