I've been a wife for a long time. You may have seen some of Joe's columns indicating the number of years we've been married. By today's standards, we are from another world. Things are so different now, from then. Our anniversary is this month on June 30th, and I've been reflecting on times past.
As a couple, Joe and I have witnessed a lot in our nearly 48 years of marriage. We overcame some very trying times. We faced many of the same challenges young couples face today, starting with picking the right person to date and go steady with. (I know I am dating myself with the use of this term). We are only a couple of generations from arranged marriages. Grandma Shaw, Joe's maternal grandmother, told me how her parents told her one day when she arrived home from school that she would marry Grandpa Shaw. She said she did not even know him, but she had to do what she was told. She said that was the custom which everybody followed in those days.
That tradition somewhat continued with our parents, too. They married who their parents suggested. And it even filtered down to us. For instance, Joe's mother "chose" me for him, and he took her suggestion. (I like to say he is blessed for having done so.) In many ways, I wish I could pick for my children. And, yes, I made my suggestions, too. I would like to think that they will be blessed with long and happy marriages.
Joe and I were very young when we married. Luckily, we had many good married role models. There were also some not so good marriages, but for the most part, everyone lived a traditional married life of father, mother, and kids. Also we had extended family members in the home like grandmothers, uncles, cousins, etc.
Time always brings about change. Over our married years we faced renting and housing issues, job problems and getting fired, the struggles of not having enough money, my growth from a self conscious, insecure girl to becoming a woman and mother, Joe's struggles with law school and passing the bar, and my struggles through college while working a full time job, with small children, examining issues such as women's liberation, open marriages, burning bras, and women leaving their husbands and children to "find" themselves. I guess I can say, "It was the worst of times and it was the best of times." But, thank God, we successfully avoided those issues, and became "Solid as a Rock."
One of the most important practices for us was trust and mutual respect for one another which we maintain today. During the turbulent years, we learned more about each other by writing notes and in journals which we shared. One of the things I learned about my husband was that no matter how distant we grew from one another, he always maintained a sense of responsibility.
Even through my periods of insecurity, he was always responsible to do what was expected of him. He taught me that even when I did not feel good about our life or my situation, to be responsible and take care of whatever needed taking care of, just like he did. That is the grown up thing to do. That is what it takes to be a real woman and a real man.
One of the delightful things I discovered about him was his tenderness. I am so moved by his gentle touch which conveys love and understanding all at the same time.
When we had no money, we still maintained our weekly dates by going on a picnic or for a ride to Thrifty to get an ice cream cone. We would park in the parking lot and just talk. We did not have a separate "boys night out" or "girls night out. We always went out together, or we didn't go at all. On Sunday afternoons, Joe would pile up the kids in the car with their tricycles and balls and we would head off to the tennis courts at Muir where we would play tennis while the kids rode their trikes. We always felt an importance of family. And we always invested in our marriage. Ultimately, we became best friends. I know he's got my back and he knows I have his.
I loved how he managed our sons when they were little boys and how he backed me up whenever one of them got out of line. If I told them not to do something and they did it anyway, he would say, "Boy, what did your mother tell you to do?"
One of my sons told me later, after he was grown, "You and daddy were tight. We couldn't get anything past the two of you?"
Becoming a wife and mother has been a learning process for me. I think I did okay. I have the utmost of respect for my sons. They are wonderful young men, and I love my relationship with each of them. As a wife, I think I am okay too. He's still hanging in here and we're both still madly in love with each other.
Happy Anniversary Joe!