Sunday, March 23, 2008

What starts at 16 and is still going strong at 99?

Tips for a long-lasting marriage

My 16-year-old daughter doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about getting married, but apparently getting married at 16 was fairly common back in the 1920s. As reported on the Today show, Mayme was only 16 when she married Clarence Vail, an “older man” of 18 on February 17, 1925.

On February 17, 2008 – after their family had grown to include six children, 39 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren, and 40 great-great-grandchildren – they celebrated their 83rd wedding anniversary. The record for the longest known marriage belongs to a couple from Taiwan, but the Guinness Book of World Records is conducting research to see if the Vails are the longest married couple alive in the United States.

As we approach the beginning of wedding season, it would seem to be useful to find out what we can learn from the Vail's 83 years of experience. So what are the keys to the longevity of their marriage? According to Mayme Vail, it takes “patience and humility.” She also notes, “you’ve got to admit you’re wrong now and then…I’ve had to do it.” Wise words, as anyone who has ever been married will admit.

Author Sheryl Kurland uncovered some other secrets to long-lasting marriages. For her book, “Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More,” she interviewed 75 couples who had been married at least 50 years - “real-life relationship experts”, in her words – to find out what it takes to reach that golden 50th anniversary.

Here are some of the tips Kurland passes along for surviving 50 years of family holidays. I think these ideas can be useful at any time of year:

• Never discuss sensitive subjects when you’re hungry.
• Make a list of what not to talk about at family gatherings. For example, try to avoid the word “older,” as in “Aunt Mary is older than Aunt Susan” or “For an older man, Uncle Harold has a lot of hair.”
• At family dinners, if you’ve lost weight recently, don’t mention it. In fact, wear baggy clothes to make yourself inconspicuous.
• Never roll your eyes or shush someone else’s annoying, bratty child who is running around or whining.
• Weather turbulence with laughter.
The pie crust won’t be perfect. Scale down your expectations, and focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong.

(Sheryl P. Kurland © December 2005).

Put these tips into action and maybe someday the Guinness Book of World Records will be calling on you to discuss your anniversary. And if anyone out there from the Vail family is listening, please get in touch with me – I would love to make a keepsake anniversary gift for you to celebrate this family milestone.

Is there a milestone wedding anniversary coming in for one of your friends or family members - a 20th anniversary, 30th anniversary, 40th anniversary, 50th anniversary, or any other special number? For any anniversary, the gift that's always right is the gift of memories, and Purple Raincoat makes it so easy for you. One call does it all. We'll take care of everything, including shipping and gift wrapping. No matter what your special occasion, let Purple Raincoat create a unique and memorable gift. Give us a call so we can start creating something special just for you.

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