Thirty Years


I celebrated a milestone recently.  Well, I did not celebrate it myself, but with someone else.  This past week marked thirty years of marriage.  And I am pleased.

My own parents separated after a mere 8 years and were formally divorced after 9.  My father remarried and the second attempt brought him 33 years of happiness.  I am closing in on his record and, being healthier than he was at my age, I have a good shot at surpassing it.

I did not marry until I was over age 30.  In the early years, marriage was not an easy state for me, as I had never really lived under a good example of what it was supposed to look like.

When our three children were young Mrs. JP and I signed up for a marriage retreat.  Worldwide Marriage Encounter was (and still is) an organization affiliated with the Catholic Church and is all about taking an average marriage and making it better.  It does this, I eventually figured out, by taking average people and making them better.

I learned important things on our weekend retreat – which, by the way, did not involve sitting around in a circle and sharing my feelings with a bunch of strangers.  I would never have done that.  Instead, the weekend was designed to get spouses to remember why we fell in love with the one we did.  I learned things about Mrs. JP that weekend, but learned more about myself.

For example, I learned that not everybody is like me.  And even more, that not everybody is supposed to be like me.  This sounds stupid staring back from a page online, but each of us grows up in an environment – whatever that environment may be.  I was raised in a household where there was right and wrong, good and bad, and where things should be done in a certain way.  My mother did not teach these lessons intentionally, but was herself formed by the environment that she was raised in.  I was given the gift of looking critically at some of the assumptions and life rules I had unwittingly carried into my marriage. And I found that not all of them were helpful.

I learned how to handle disagreements in non-destructive ways, and to remember that the person I may be disagreeing with was someone I loved.  And I learned that I had to learn to trust my wife to not hurt me and to be worthy of the trust she extends in return.  Because two people who are always on guard against one another is no way to make a marriage.

Most importantly, I learned that feelings and emotions may ebb and flow, but to love my wife was something that requires a decision each and every day.  Most days it is an easy decision, one that comes naturally.  Other days it is a challenge, but those are the days when consciously making that decision are the most important.  And just as importantly, I learned that she was having to make that same daily decision – a decision that was often just as hard for her as mine could sometimes be for me.

As with anything, we get out of marriage what we put into it.  Every newly married couple is on a high.  Every newly married couple will settle into reality after awhile.  Some deal with it by divorce.  Others by living their own lives and only rarely doing things together.  The third way (the one we chose) was to lean into it and make it something really good together.

We have had our ups, downs and challenges – and we are still an “us”.  I cherish that “us” as a special place where each of us is loved and accepted and encouraged.  It is a place safe from the uncertainties that swirl around us.

As Catholics, Mrs. JP and I believe that our marriage is both a sign and a source of divine graces, the kind that have helped us along the way.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons I grieve when I see a marriage break apart on the ugly, rocky places in life.  I don’t believe it is necessary to possess a religious faith to have a good marriage, but I do believe that it makes a good, lasting marriage more easily attained.

One of our children put a congratulatory posting on social media.  We received many messages of congratulations from family and longtime friends, but also from people who didn’t know us but knew our children.  Some of those people live halfway around the world.  I was struck that even though many of these people had never met us, our marriage had managed to leave a small but significant mark, enough of a mark that people in distant lands who had never met us cared enough to post words of encouragement on our marriage milestone.

I think failed marriages do this too – they leave swirls and ripples that affect far more people than just the two who hang it up.  I am not picking on those people, they have enough troubles.  I only point this out as one who grew up around it and knows firsthand.

Don’t think I am trying to give any expert advice – I am no expert.  I am just a guy who has made some effort and seen some success in this marriage thing.  Thirty years can come and go pretty quickly.  Time flies when you are having fun.

30 thoughts on “Thirty Years

  1. Many congratulations!

    You hit upon many good things but your ability to look critically at assumption and life rules truly jumps off the page. Sometime when one learns by example the example is of what is not best to do.

    May you two have many more happy anniversaries!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Looking at those rules and assumptions with a critical eye is something I might never have managed on my own. The defaults are to either follow them or rebel against them, but never to understand their influence so that you can navigate things on your own.


  2. Congratulations, and a hope for many more good years together.

    Right on both counts, a good marriage is something to be thankful for and it does take effort. Someone once told Mrs DougD and I that we had the best marriage of anyone they knew. We looked at each other and both said “That’s it? It doesn’t get any better than this???” A sense of humor is very important too.

    I hope you can enjoy a celebratory dinner after the current unpleasantness has passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your reaction to your friend’s comment! Yes, a sense of humor is a must. Although ours are not always in synch. We laugh about an early date where we saw the movie The Naked Gun. She watched me laughing and wondered what I found so funny and I saw her stonefaced expression and noted that she clearly had no sense of humor. Re-watching that movie will probably not be part of our anniversary celebration. 🙂

      Edit – Mrs. JP reminds me that she entertained the idea of not going out with me again after my howling through that movie choice. We do better with murder mysteries. 🙂


    • Anything we can do to provide an excuse for you to raise a glass. 🙂 I like to think that we are still working towards the halfway mark.


  3. A very happy anniversary celebration for you and your bride. I was one who saw the post by your children online- a fitting tribute. My mom and stepdad are at 23 years. I would love them to hit 30. Dad hit 10 with my mom and twelve with my second stepmom.

    I’m not sure I’ve learned the interpersonal lessons you picked up, but then again I’ve purposely remained single. By your telling they’re worth reviewing, though, as best I can now, and they’re definitely worth future contemplation. Thank both of you for that.

    Thank you too for the cohort post today. I identified with it in many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I have decided that life is one big long learning experience, much of it involving myself.

      I remember your father telling me that your grandfather’s opinion of me went up several notches when I sold that car.


  4. That was a lovely post! Congratulations to you and the missus! The paragraph re marriage being making the decision to love your spouse each and every day was something I heard the newly married Justin Bieber say recently, profound and mature now at the ripe old age of 25!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations again JP. I would like someone one day to write that eloquently about me and/or our relationship. My parents’ relationship soured me on marriage. They married in 1953, both were age 30, had me three years later. My father had a mid-life crisis in early 1984 and one day went to the bank and took out all the funds held jointly and wrote to the annuity fund (also held jointly) and said my mother was out of the country and took out all the money with a penalty, pleading hardship. Then he fled the country never to be heard from again. My mother said “do not let these actions taint your life – hmmm. It was my late mother’s wish that I should go to my grave with a different name than I came into the world with. So far, I can’t fulfill that wish but she probably suspected that would be the case. 🙂 May you have many more years of wedded bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so terrible to read what happened to your mother. It amazes me the number of ways some people find to mess up their lives – and those actions have ripple effects that can last for decades, as you have said. Those are the ones that hit me the most – marriages like those of your parents that blow apart after many, many years. I have seen it happen in families I have known, but I have a hard time understanding it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it was shocking really … my mom was lucky the house had been paid for a long time before this happened, but she was only 58 and too young to collect Social Security and had not worked since she had me. She had some medical problems which would make it difficult to return to the workplace and she did not drive. She had a degree from business school, but the office equipment was very different since she left the workplace 28 years before. I helped out. She had to get a divorce by default to allow her to collect Social Security once she turned 62. It was an older judge who handled the hearing and he had a few choice words to say about my father who was long gone (we assume to Germany where he came from). He said that “gray divorce” (which he identified as persons being married for decades and one partner decides they no longer wanted to be married) was becoming too common for his liking. Most of my parents friends had been married for decades and very devoted to each other.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll congratulate you the only way I can, and you’ll understand me. Mazal Tov for you and Mrs JP and children!!!! May you celebrate your 120th birthday. You know, we also celebrated our 30th anniversary under lockdown on March 10th, with my Mom passing away a few days later. We married at 24 yo, but as we had been high school sweethearts since age 16, there was an even greater risk. And here we are, many financial crisis later, but not one day of sleeping outside (except for business trips). As you say, we are all different, and nobody is an expert to give advice. But what we can and should do is celebrate our accomplishments and those of people who are close to us for any reason. I feel a close affinity to your way of looking at the world, so please receive my best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for chiming in. And a hearty congratulations to you and Mrs Rafael as well!

      But goodness, I’m not sure if I’m man enough to make it to 120. My grandfather made it to almost 101 and warned me against getting old. And though Mrs JP has been a trooper, I’m not sure if she’s ready for 90 years with me. 🙂


  7. I’m just catching up with your blog, JP, after more than a month away, and was tempted to comment on some earlier posts, but decided that the time was past. But I can’t ignore this one – congratulations to both of you! We just celebrated our own 30th last year, and it did seem like a milestone. My own parents were married a long time before first one, then the other died, but my dad had been married before and there has been divorce in my family. My wife’s parents recently celebrated their 70th anniversary so there’s good precedent there … though I’m not sure I want to live that long (I was almost 33 when we tied the knot). My wife is a few years younger and has been married more than half her life, which sounds weird when I think about it.

    And what the heck, I will make a quick comment about one of your earlier blogs, which mentioned the culinary versatility of flour tortillas. They are not just for savory fillings; lightly heated and then rolled with jam, cinnamon sugar, or Nutella, and they make an excellent snack, I mean dessert.

    Liked by 1 person

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