My parents on their wedding day in St. Louis, October 27, 1938
Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream. ~ Kahil Gibran
The last wedding anniversary my parents celebrated was their fiftieth, in 1988. I remember all my siblings and I pitched in to send them on a vacation. They never made it; my dad died just two months later. But they had a good marriage; their love satisfied and comforted them—it was sufficient in its own time.
As for marriage in general, it is hard to talk sensibly for, as George Bernard Shaw noted, “There is no subject on which more dangerous nonsense is talked and thought than marriage.” Will Durant wrote somewhere that no institution was so designed for unhappiness as marriage—and this from a man happily married for 68 years. All I can say is that anyone happily married for 50 years has succeeded in one of the hardest jobs in the world: living and loving a single person for a half a century. That is no small feat. They have instantiated in their microscopic world what is so desperately needed everywhere.
So if your parents or friends are celebrating 50 or more years of a happy marriage, think to yourself “in at least one respect, they are worthy of respect.” Remember too, as Will Durant said, “The love we have in our youth is superficial compared to the love that an old man has for his old wife.”
As for how to have a good marriage, the most poetic advice I’ve ever heard was from Kahlil Gibran, an almost embarrassingly sentimental (some would say mawkish) poet whose work I encountered as a teenage. In his most famous work, The Prophet, Gibran says:
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
2 thoughts on “50th Wedding Anniversary”
Hi Dr. John, the name’s Joshua from Indonesia. Your amazing blog has been my rabbit hole for the past few weeks. Thank you so much for writing and maintaining this amazing blog of yours.
I want to ask do you have any reference on the whys of romantic relationship? Specifically of male-female monogamous relationship? If love is universal and important, why should we have a specific one-person partner? Why not just give it to as many people as we can? Why should we love? Why should we be in a relationship? And why is the need for marriage for a particular relationship?
Thank you so much in advance 🙂 Hope you and your loved ones are having a great life.
I’m no expert on the subject but the vast majority of cultures known throughout history to anthropologists have practiced polyamory, something like 85% if I remember correctly. Usually a male with multiple wives not the opposite. I’m sure you can find info on the topic in wikipedia. Susan Fischer, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in the USA is quite an authority on the biology of love and relationships. Might be a good place to start. Good luck. JGM