50 Years of Marriage
This is a large banner that hangs from the front gate to our house to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Yes, I know the date had passed a couple months ago, but we are currently celebrating because this is the first opportunity we have had to gather everyone from around the world to allow concurrent travel arrangements. It was kind of a logistical nightmare for everyone to get vacation time at a consistent time. So the last of our guests will be leaving in a couple of days. Even feeding people was difficult since our guests were still on many different time zones. But as best we could, people would gather for some food.
We were able to recount old memories, of which there were many. But just like most newly married couples we had NO IDEA what it meant to live together for 50 years – NOT A CLUE. One might guess that in that time span there might be some ups and downs but that concept has no relation to the real roller coaster ride we were about to embark on.
It really started about 4 years after we were married when Prudential decided they needed to move me from the Regional Home Office in Minneapolis to the Corporate Home Office in beautiful downtown Newark, NJ. ( I am being facetious). Everything cost twice as much as Minnesota, including houses. Prudential gave me a mortgage where the payment including taxes and insurance was 60% of my take home pay. We call that time our “peanut butter days”,for obvious reasons.
One day I came home from work and found a bunch of guys in the house and my wife introduced them as “her Band”. Oh really how was she going to handle that with two young boys in the house. My dream was to be a successful business executive while her dream was to be a Rock and Roll Star. Somehow we managed with day care and babysitters as she traveled up and down the East Coast, performing about 5 nights a week. She was the songwriter as well as the lead singer and keyboard player. Alas, record deals came close but without closure and about 6 years into this tiring nomadic existence, she called it quits, missing her two boys and maybe me a little bit.
The episode that really triggered her change in attitude was one day when she was home, my 8 yeat old son fell and skinned his knee. He came running into the house yelling “daddy, daddy, I got hurt”. I could see it on her face how upset she was because he should be looking for Mommy in this situation.
At that point I threw myself into my Prudential career, working countless hours and traveling about 220 days a year. I was in charge of 19 different subsidiaries from a mainframe software company in San Francisco to a bank in Atlanta as well as some International business. We moved as was necessary and those years were a blur of airports and hotels. Years of entertaining customers and subsidiary management virtually every evening led to excessive drinking and exhaustion. When my wife asked me to join her in teaching piano, I jumped at the opportunity. I met with the CEO of Prudential and told him to make me a deal to go quietly and support him at his efforts to sell every business I had built from scratch.
Once away from the rat race, I was able to quit drinking and smoking and have not touched either in the 25 years since. Music is what brought us together and music has been the tie that has kept us together. 50 years ago we were both working at Prudential in Minneapolis and I wanted a date with her. I did a little invesigation and found out she was a college music major, since I could play the piano that would be in my in with her. I wrote a piece of music called “Rhapsody On A Mood”. One day I saw her in the hallway and told her “ I wrote a piece of music for her, would she like to hear it”. No a bad pick up line, was it?. The Prudential Auditorium has a beauiful grand piano and as I played my piece full of passion and tenderness, she came up to the piano and made a bunch of contructive criticisms, like where I should put a G minor chord etc, I was devastated since that was not why I played for her, so I told her to sit down while I played the Moonlight Sonata and we have been together ever since.
The amazing thing to me is after 50 years I love her much more now than when we got married. From the day I first saw her, I wanted to get in her pants – I was completely enthralled. Yet somewhere along our journey she became my soul mate. I simply cannot imagine living without her. From the day I looked at her, wanting her body to now looking at her and only wishing the best for her. To give her the time and space so she can be the best she can be. Not just a wife but an artist, musician, composer, author, wherever her talents take her. I love her more today because she has worked to be the best human being she can be and I am proud and thankful to share these years at her side. When I look at her today, I almost melt into a puddle. No she is not the raving beauty she once was, she is much, much more a whole and wonderful human being.
As I think back at how we got to our golden anniversary, I can attribute it to on thing – following the Golden Rule – do onto her what you want want her to do for you. Slightly paraphrased but it captures the idea that allowed her time to devote to her music as well as time for me to develop my Prudential career. So now we find ourselves in our mid-70’s teaching piano to kids 7 days a week. It’s not really work when you love what you are doing. It is hard to express how much deeper a relationship can be when it is nutured over decades, intead of the days or weeks of young love.