Families are strengthened when the importance of long-term marriages is recognized and valued. Children and grandchildren can learn the value of marriage vows and covenants as they watch parents and grandparents work together to solve differences rather than running away from them. All family members need to understand that success or failure in marriage affects many people and not just the two people involved in the marriage. We all need to recognize that good and happy marriages do not just happen; all marriages need work, but some seem to need less work than most other marriages.
My husband and I will celebrate our forty-fourth wedding anniversary next week. We have endured several serious problems in those years, but we continue to learn how to "live together in love and respect."
My older sister and her husband recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with their daughter, other family members, and many friends. Their celebration was much like their wedding reception many years ago and included a live band and dancing. There was a time not too many years ago when their marriage was in serious trouble and looked like it might end. They worked through their problems with counselors and Church leaders and eventually put their marriage back together. The fact that they made it together for fifty years is a real reason to celebrate!
I know many people who enjoy long-term marriages. My parents were planning their celebration of fifty years of marriage when my mother passed away five months before their golden anniversary. All twelve of their children have marriages lasting longer than thirty years with five of the older ones being married more than fifty years. Although some of my parents' grandchildren have divorced, most of the grandchildren have enduring marriages also. The example of our parents - plus the teachings about eternal marriage by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - is an important reason for these long marriages.
The recent royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William brought hope for a long-lasting marriage between them because they show obvious signs of great affection for each other. William is said to have waited long enough to make sure that Kate is the one for him. I am sure that the difficulties and divorce of his parents, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, as well as other royal marriage problems and divorces, helped to remind William that he needed to choose his wife with great care.
We often see headlines of the divorces of rich and famous people, but there are many well-known couples who have long-lasting marriages. Dolores Reade and Bob Hope were married almost sixty-nine years when he died in 2003. They married three months after "falling in love at first sight." Even though their marriage experienced rough times, it endured because they loved and respected each other as well as understood the importance of their marriage vows. There has never been even a hint of scandal about the Hope marriage.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward enjoyed another long-lasting marriage as they were together about forty-nine years at the time of his death. His marriage to Joanne was Paul's second marriage, but it obviously was satisfactory to both of them. Paul is reported to have said something like, "Why mess around with hamburger when steak is waiting at home?" Joanne is reported to have claimed that enjoying a daily laugh lasted long after looks faded and the need for sex decreased.
What is the importance of long-term marriages? The importance of having married parents in the home cannot be understated. One example is shown in the different income levels between homes with married parents and homes with single parents. According to Robert Rector at The Heritage Foundation, “Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, but few are aware that its principle cause is the absence of married fathers in the home. Marriage remains America’s strongest anti-poverty weapon, yet it continues to decline. As husbands disappear from the home, poverty and welfare dependence will increase, and children and parents will suffer as a result.”
Rector's article has charts showing the many differences made by marriage, and I highly recommend that you study the article. He wrote that America is “steadily separating into a two-caste society with marriage and education as the dividing line. In the high-income third of the population, children are raised by married parents with a college education; in the bottom-income third, children are raised by single parents with a high school degree or less.” [www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/09/marriage-america-s-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Morning%2BBell]
There are many, many couples who are married for fifty, sixty, and even seventy years. These examples show us that marriage can be lasting if both members of the marriage will work at it. It is not easy for two people to become "as one," but it is possible. Long-term happy marriages strengthen families and show good examples to the rising generations.