Sixty years ago today, a 16-year-old Hispanic Catholic with tattoos and broken English married a 21-year-old German Jew (much to his mother’s chagrin) in a little Las Vegas chapel called “The Hitching Post”. It seems the odds were stacked against them. They were young. They were naïve. They were broke. In fact, the young man had to sell his beloved fishing gear to pay for the gas from L.A. to Albuquerque to ask for his sweetheart’s parents for her hand in marriage.
And yet today, three children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren later, these two celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
I’ve seen people of my generation brush off the long marriages of older generations with the excuse, “Back then, divorce wasn’t an option.” Not so. That young man vowed to care for his beloved in good or bad, sickness or health, as long as they both shall live despite having been raised by a single mother after his parents’ bitter divorce at an early age. Divorce was an option, but so was life-long love and commitment. And I’m glad those two chose the latter.
Marriage has never been easy; it certainly wasn’t any easier “back then” than it is now. That young couple could never have imagined that their life together would be filled with as many sorrows as blessings. That someday, each would have to nurse the other through cancer treatments. That they would never have much more money than they did their wedding day.
When I look at my husband and contemplate the blessed marriage we have, I am filled with gratitude to my grandparents who provided an example of marital love and fidelity that has been passed down through the generations, first to my parents, and through them to me. Yes, the effects of divorce are profound, but a loving marriage has the power to transform generations.