My parents have been married for 54 years.
Yes, you read that right.
Not 54 months, which would be considered an eternity in a culture that invented the concept of the “starter marriage.”
Not 54 minutes, about the current celebrity max. (Alright, I exaggerate. Britney Spears kept her first husband around for 55 whole hours.)
Fifty-four years. As in, more than a half-century. As in, Eisenhower was in his first term when they got hitched. If you think that’s unfathomable, get this: They still like each other! And they’re not being held together by duct tape or court order. They’re choosing this wacky lifestyle!
I bet researchers studying marital satisfaction would have a field day figuring out how they’ve made it work. More unlike than alike, statisticians might have predicted they’d split back when Jackie Kennedy made pillbox hats the rage. How have they kept it going?
Might be because they don’t use phrases like “soul mate” to describe each other. They use those quaint words “husband” and “wife,” “honey” and “dear.”
Mom’s Catholic. Dad’s Protestant. Empires have been toppled over lesser religious differences, yet they’ve just done their own separate-but-equal thing for six decades.
They dated for two years before marrying, but didn’t live together until they’d shaken the last of the rice out of their shoes. Conventional wisdom decrees that would surely doom them to discover they were incompatible.
Did I mention they’ve been together for 54 years?
My mother is a lifelong, die-hard, season-ticket-carrying fan of the Red Sox. If there was a polygraph-like machine that could measure less-than-zero interest in baseball, my father would ace the test. I suspect he thinks “Big Papi” is an air popcorn popper.
Dad loves shellfish.
She adores social gatherings. He would rather dig up their septic system with a spork.
Yet they’re actually well-matched in other ways. Neither drinks or smokes, so my sibs and I were never subjected to brawls resembling outtakes from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? They both work out religiously on their treadmill. Dad is a master storyteller and Mom laughs at every joke as if hearing it for the first (not 174th) time.
Oh, and there’s one other secret to their marital longevity.
They have perfect children.