Monday, September 29, 2008

35

Thirty-five years ago today, my parents stood in front of their friends and family, said their "I do"s, and started building a life together.

These days, when something like 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, my sister & I are fortunate to have grown up with parents who managed to stay together and make things work. I'm not saying it was always easy. There were certainly times when the simplest course of action (emotionally, if not logistically) would have been to call it quits, walk away, hit the reset button, call do-overs. But each time things got close to the breaking point, they ultimately found the right words for each other, decided to give it another try, to keep working at it.

What this taught me, growing up, and even now as I have set out with my own young family - and pardon me while I nerd out here for a second - is that a marriage really is like a thermodynamic system. In a closed system (one with no input of energy) disorder increases over time. Energy must be introduced into the system, usually in the form of work, in order to maintain a steady state. Energy requirements in a marriage vary over time, of course, which is part of why I think the trouble spots take us by surprise. If initial conditions are satisfactory (I love you, you love me, we are compatible and happy), and external factors are good (any financial, work-related or other emotional stresses are minimal), the system can chug along perfectly well with minimal input. However, if the bills start piling up or the kids start testing your patience or life just starts getting more hectic and draining than usual, that extra energy lost from the system needs to be replaced. Sometimes it takes a little while to realize that the work requirements have increased, and sometimes you decide that those requirements are more than you're willing to put in. But other times you find the strength to keep going.

My parents found that strength, time and again. As a result, they seem to be happier together today than they've ever been. Mom & Dad, congratulations on 35 years of marriage. Most people would say the deck was stacked against you, getting married as young as you did, but you've beaten the odds and forged a partnership that I can hold up as an example for my own life. Cheers to you, today and every day.

6 comments:

Madre y Padre said...

Wow...thank you!!! XOXOXOXO

Anonymous said...

Can't think of anything that would make a parent and grandparent as content and proud as your wise and sensitve congratulatory message is.
Yup, I shed a happy tear....we really have such a special family, all the way around!
xoxoxoxoxo Yaya & Buddy

Tom said...

That was sweet--congratulations, folksinlaw!

Anonymous said...

You and Tom are lucky to each have your parents still together, showing you it can work with effort and Love...Padre & Madre

Dexter Colt said...

My parents recently celebrated their 39th anniversary. But, I dare not use science to explain it. Some things are best left to whimsical thinking...

Shannon Kealey said...

Susan, you are such a NERD (love it), and SO WISE! As a kid of divorce who hopes one day to get married and not repeat history, I LOVED this post. Hopeful yet honest. And congratulations, Aunt P and Uncle S!