Golden Wedding Anniversaries — The End of an Era?

BLOG #46, SERIES 4
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
GOLDEN WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES
THE END OF AN ERA?
November 13, 2013

It happened on board Celebrity Cruise Line’s ship Summit, as it was serenely sailing down that great Canadian seaway, the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It was September 28, a very special day in the lives of two cherished friends of ours, Ed and Jo Riffle of Glasgow, Kentucky. Bob and Lucy Earp of Murphreesboro, Tennessee and Connie and I were there to complete our traveling six-pack.

???????????????????????????????

359

We had ordered a small cake in order to celebrate the fact that half-a-century before, on September 28, 1963, a young bride and groom were married. Back then, that was what we all did. As Doris Day would sing it, “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage–you can’t have one without the other.”

Not so today. Marriage is no longer the norm in America. About half of all couples merely cohabit a dwelling-place, living together without any commitment to be there for each other for the rest of their lives. As one of my aunts put it, “It’s like an automobile is parked in the driveway with the engine running–first bump, and “I’m out of here!” Once there were two, and now there is only one. Welcome to our age’s throw-away society. Everything is transitory: nothing lasts–not even relationships.

But you just don’t realize the long-term effects. Not until you sing “Happy Anniversary” to a couple who have been married to each other for fifty years. After we had done so, and the ship’s Blu Room had erupted in applause, our maitre ‘d, an effervescent young Lothario of about forty, came over to congratulate Ed and Jo. But it was what he said next that gave birth to this blog. There was a regretful poignancy in his voice as he said, “I’m not married – so there will never be a golden wedding anniversary in my life.

259The Happy Couple!

A society with fewer and fewer couples who have shared the ups and downs of life with each other for half a century is bound to be very different from the one that was born in what we call “The Normal Rockwell Era,” graced by picket fences and marriages and children born to couples committed to being there for each other, and for the children who would grow up safe and secure in a home where their parents continued to love and cherish each other. And when the children grew up, married, and had children of their own, there would always be a “home” to go home to.”

Today, more often than not in America, there is no longer such a place.

And that is a national tragedy.

Great civilizations do not collapse because of armies and destructive weapons. They collapse from within.

Just like ours. Are Golden Anniversaries a vanishing species today?