Unwrapping a Marriage

This weekend, my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary. In lieu of regular programming, I want to share the toast I gave at the dinner.

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We’re here today to pay tribute to a marriage. Not to two individuals and their accomplishments—but to the accomplishment of simply being here, together. And so today I would like to take a few minutes to share what I have learned about marriage from my parents.

Number 1: Marriage is for keeps. Falling out of love is not an option.

Number 2: Date nights, however, are. Although I can hardly imagine how they did it, my parents hardly ever went out, and their marriage never suffered for it. I can only attribute this to the fact that they were indispensible to each other. Which leads me to point three:

Marriage is a partnership between two best friends. It’s a rare big decision that gets made without both of them having input (can you say “Turkey”**?). I remember times when Dad would stand just inside the back door, too dirty to come in the house, and call for Mom so he could bounce an idea off her, ask for her advice. They respect each other’s unique gifts; they are equal partners in this relationship.

Number four: Love is not static. It is a work always in progress. During one stage of my parents’ life, the farm and the kids were the center of all structure. Dad is an innovator, and Mom followed him gamely wherever he led. But later, when Mom began exploring her political aspirations, Dad followed her with equal commitment.

And finally…Love isn’t about fireworks and long-stemmed roses. I don’t think my parents ever once had a candlelight dinner, and the only kid-free vacations they took were when they went to pick up some new piece of farm equipment, from such exotic, romantic destinations as…southwest Minnesota. Their love shows its face in hog barns power washed, in long days in the field, in campaigns run, and in the faces of their children and grandchildren gathered here.

This isn’t a fancy dinner; we have no champagne flutes and no bubbly for a traditional toast. What we do have is love for these two people. To Ted and Therese: here’s to the next forty!

** (Two years ago, my dad came home and Mom met him at the door, saying, “Hi, honey, I bought the plane tickets for a trip to Turkey today!”) **

tuesdays unwrapped at cats