Fifty years is a long time to be married to the same person. During that time my wife, Ann, and I have changed significantly, both bodily and intellectually. Neither of us looks the same as we were on the day we were married. While we have grown wiser, we have acquired wrinkles and pounds. Our walking pace is slower. We tire sooner. Running for the mere joy of it is no longer something we do, or even consider.
I, like many men in their 70s, am now bald. For most of us males in a marriage that began before the arrival of personal computers, the woman we married is no longer the sexy, slim and smooth-skinned beauty we lusted for in our raunchy 20s. Our sex drive today is lower or non-existent.
For most of us during those 50 years, at times we thought we had made a mistake. Sometimes there was anger between us; there were regrets, misunderstandings and temptations to pair off with someone younger, seemingly more understanding and admiring.
Fifty years is a very long time for two people to live in the same house or apartment; particularly if we sometimes have contrasting viewpoints and tastes, contrary views of our world, favor different political candidates or friends and relatives. Under those differences it is especially difficult to live every day in harmony.
At times it is impossible. Particularly in summer and winter. It is then that we have differences about the meaning of warm.
Nevertheless, Ann and I have persevered, perhaps because of the vows we made to stay together for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, never suspecting at the time that we would experience both calamities during our term as a married couple.
During these 50 years, my wife and I have resolved whatever differences we had. I confess I no longer remember what they were. One of the keys to a long marriage is a bad memory. We have forgiven and forgotten. In part, our being together is due to our five children, the products of our love and desires.
A good part of the reason we have been able to celebrate the golden anniversary of our wedding is a long life. But we could have lived as long separately. The greater part of the reason for celebrating the event is the affection for and the growing appreciation of each other.
We have shared much together -- births, weddings, victories, illnesses, honors, the arrival of grandchildren, defeats, praise, criticism, threats and disappointments. We have both experienced all of those and we have overcome the bad times, and ignored the threats and the disappointments and the rejections.
And there is something else, to me something the most important of all -- the sharing of memories. I first went to Europe as a single available young man, an Army veteran and a college student. It was a happy and heady experience, being desired and wanted by members of the opposite sex, even if only because I was an American.
I have since been to Europe and many other far places with my wife. Going there with Ann is better. Going on a pleasure trip anywhere is better. Better afterward because there is someone to share the experiences, someone who also remembers, someone who has seen what I have seen and heard what I have heard. And we can talk about what we have seen and heard months and years later.
And that's what 50 years of marriage is: sharing the experience.