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HomeCommentary62 Years into Our Marriage, and We're Still Holding Hands

62 Years into Our Marriage, and We’re Still Holding Hands

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62 Years into Our Marriage, and We’re Still Holding Hands

Commentary by Pete Haug | FāVS News

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When Jolie and I taught English in China, we often held hands as we strolled around campus.

“How come you guys still love each other,” students asked, “when the divorce rate in America is so high?”

“That may be true,” we’d reply, “but all over America you can read newspaper stories about couples celebrating their 25th, 50th, and even 75th wedding anniversaries. We hope to make it someday.”

Our anniversary this month was number 62. Who’d have guessed!

When we first met, Jolie was in love with my college roommate, and I had my own girlfriend. After graduation, my roommate headed to medical school and developed second thoughts about Jolie. Ditto my girlfriend about me. Jolie and I remet on the rebound.

A moving Mass: Bach’s

We re-established contact when her women’s choir visited my college in 1960, our senior year, to join our men’s chorus in performing Bach’s B Minor Mass.

On reacquainting, we hit it off but began slowly. Both of us had been hurt. Neither wanted to rush things. After graduation, we began new jobs, Jolie teaching vocal music, K-12, and I as a public relations writer. We were separated by 300 miles, but managed to meet a few times that fall and winter. That period marked the only two times I ever received speeding tickets. (My car ran on testosterone.) We were married in August 1961.

Sixty-two years later

Suddenly it’s 2023. We both have health problems, but we still have each other. At this point the partnership is necessary for mutual support. As my maculae degenerate, Jolie helps me find stuff I can no longer see. The lighted magnifying glass helped for a while, but I now struggle to read. I enlarge fonts on my computer.

Jolie’s had a knee and two shoulders replaced (one shoulder twice), a pacemaker and a stroke.

Fortunately, the stroke was mild, and she’s driving again. That takes the transportation burden off our two children who live closest. We consider ourselves blessed and lucky.

Our children

Our children now have their own children. Two are grandparents, making us great-grandparents! We’ve done our share for the population explosion: three children, ten grandchildren and four greats. I like to think our family contributes quality as well as quantity. All three kids are happily married — 27, 33, and 37 years, respectively.

Jolie and I believe there’s a reason. In the late 60s, when our oldest began school, we lived north of Denver, then a mecca for runaway children, some as young as 12. From New York, California, and in between, they joined Denver’s street people.

“How can we raise kids to be polite and well-behaved without being so strict as to drive them from home?” we asked ourselves.

As new Baha’is, we knew there was a lot of guidance on behavior in Baha’i teachings. We also knew that other religions had all kinds of guidance for such behavior, much of it beyond the comprehension of young children.

A search led us to two basic Baha’i principles, building-blocks for supporting and guiding our behavior. They were honesty and courtesy. Youngsters can understand these, but Jolie and I needed another concept for ourselves: modeling. We couldn’t demand honesty and courtesy from our children without modeling these characteristics ourselves. So we began.

Modeling

We explained the concepts and told the kids that we all had to live by the same standards. If Daddy was discourteous to a kid, that child had the right to call him on it (courteously, of course), and Dad had to ‘fess up when he lost it. This happened lots during the decades that followed, but the underlying love among us was a healing salve.

When the children began school, we explained that they already knew the way to behave. They understood basics of right and wrong. Beginning with kindergarten, they’d be away from home for several hours each day. They had to take responsibility for their own decisions and actions — and live with any consequences of misbehavior. We also explained that life isn’t always fair.

Results weren’t perfect, of course, but we all worked on developing these fundamentals. As our children matured, so did we, spiritually as well as chronologically. The honesty we shared, tempered with courtesy and mutual respect, has brought us through many a possible crisis.

Perfect marriage?

We’d been married 12 years when we attended a class on parenting at a Baha’i summer school. Another couple there had been married 37 years. When a participant asked, “What makes a perfect marriage?” the wife of that couple responded:

“There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. Every marriage has problems. A good marriage is one that faces, addresses and solves those problems through loving consultation with each other.”

If Jolie and I were drinkers, we’d drink to that!

Related Read

Pete Haug
Pete Haug
Pete plunged into journalism fresh out of college, putting his English literature degree to use for five years. He started in industrial and academic public relations, edited a rural weekly and reported for a metropolitan daily, abandoning all for graduate school. He finished with an M.S. in wildlife biology and a Ph.D. in systems ecology. After teaching college briefly, he analyzed environmental impacts for federal, state, Native American and private agencies over a couple of decades. His last hurrah was an 11-year gig teaching English in China. After retiring in 2007, he began learning about climate change and fake news, giving talks about both. He started writing columns for the Moscow-Pullman Daily News and continues to do so. He first published for favs.news in 2020. Pete’s columns alternate weekly between FāVS and the Daily News. His live-in editor, Jolie, infinitely patient wife for 62 years, scrutinizes all columns with her watchful draconian eye. Both have been Baha’is since the 1960s. Pete’s columns on the Baha’i Faith represent his own understanding and not any official position.

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2 COMMENTS

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Paul Graves
Paul Graves
8 months ago

CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU BOTH, PETE AND JOLIE! 62 years is very impressive. Sue and I are 56 years and counting. Where did all those years go?

D B Bayless
D B Bayless
8 months ago

What a sweet story. The advice is timeless. Thanks, Pete.

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