BRANDON – Comments ran the gamut from thoughtful to humorous as Greater Brandon area residents gave their views on marriages that have gone the distance — and what accounts for steadfastness through the trials and tribulations of life.
“We are at 27 years and I am willing to admit there were many times that I could have throttled (my husband) with my bare hands,” said Christine Rabel, in answering a Facebook query from the Brandon News that asked respondents to reflect on marriages that work. “Fortunately for me I never found a suitable place to hide the body. Did I mention how important a sense of humor is, to maintaining fun and joy in your marriage?”
Whether one talks about the three C’s of a solid marriage — commitment, communication and compromise — or the three T’s of avoiding divorce — talking, teamwork and trust — happy spouses realize there is more to lasting love than just romance.
“I have seen many marriages crumble because at the end of the day they just weren’t friends,” said Kris Roeder Friedman. “Friendship is the glue. Not kids, not sex. Friendship.”
Count among the believers Anne Drewry, past president of the Greater Brandon Arts Council and Brandon League of Fine Arts, and her husband, Garth, a retired radiologist who worked at Tampa General Hospital for 40 years.
“After 53 years of marriage it seems to me that there are several very important ingredients” to a strong and steady union, she said. “Trust, love, compromise, friendship, teamwork, respect and communication.”
Marriage? It’s a 50-50 proposition, but that doesn’t mean it’s always half-and-half, as Sheri Barker noted.
“My mother-in-law told me before I married her son that marriage is not always 50-50. There may be times when its 80-20,” said Barker, who Feb. 22 celebrates 22 years of marriage. “The important thing to keep in mind is that we agree on the big picture and have common goals in our marriage. That’s a good reminder on those days when I feel like I’m the one pulling the 80 percent.”
Tanya Beerbohm looked to the success of her boyfriend’s parents in determining the hallmarks of a solid union. This year marks the couple’s 45th anniversary.
“One cooks, the other bakes. It all works out,” Beerbohm said. “They divide the chores.”
The couple allows for the fact that “your spouse is not your hobby” and “they will want to do things on their own, within reason,” Beerbohm added. “I have seen couples drown because they don’t realize this and don’t give each other space.”
Nor do they hold true to the promises they make, large or small, which to Maurice Cecchini is a big mistake. Underlying his marriage’s tenure, which hits the 49-year-mark in August, is “an agreement to keep your word in the promises you make to each other,” he said. “There are no shortcuts, no exits, no excuses to circumvent keeping (those) promises.”
Necessary, too, is a realistic understanding of what marriage entails, said Melissa Risley Matos, who in September will celebrate her 25th anniversary. “Marriage truly is a roller coaster and you simply have to go along for the ride,” she added. “Enjoy the highs, deal with the lows and compromise. Agree to disagree, communicate and have shared values and a vision for your family.”
Faith is the rock without which many spouses say their marriages would crumble.
On April 26, Liz and Jeff Brewer will celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary.
“During that time we have experienced the joy of seeing our three children born, the devastation of him becoming an amputee at 27, the grief over five miscarriages and [the] loss of both my parents and my brother way too young,” she said. “Through it all our marriage grew stronger and our love is deeper than ever. We both give all the glory to God, though, because without our faith it could be so different.”
Pam Latime McAuley credits the gift of gab for keeping her marriage afloat for 17 years.
“We talk to each other a lot,” she said. “Even about the hard stuff. We’ve been through more stressful periods (in) our lives than we care to remember. But we did it. Together. Again and again.”
Rest assured, “You will have not-so-fun periods.” McCauley added. “It’s finding that one person who you want to go through life with — the good, the bad, the ugly — and then celebrate each little thing.”
Married for “going on 13 years,” Troy Vasaturo said he is in it for the long haul with an attitude not to “sweat the small stuff.”
“My wife and I work at our marriage,” he added “We don’t settle for the status quo. We truly enjoy being around each other and work every day to make sure it stays that way.”
For Bonnie Tekampe and her husband, Ed, married for 37 years in July, work takes on an even greater meaning.
“We are now partners in a business and amazingly like to work together,” she said. “I remember my niece asking me at her wedding, ‘What is your secret?’ And my first thought was communication and compromise. Marriage is a partnership and a friendship.”
In March, Angela Heaps Dionne and her husband, Tim, will be up against the proverbial “seven-year itch” — that period of time in a marriage around which the collective view posits that interest declines and boredom takes root.
But Angela Dionne is having none of that.
“Marriage is work, it takes a lot of work,” she said. “It doesn’t just happen. Think of your partner all the time. Do unexpected things for them. And the biggest (thing) is (to) live within your means. Don’t spend more than you have, because financial issues will ruin a relationship faster than most anything else.”
Looking to take the plunge?
Avoid the temptation to rush into a marriage— “just because you think it is time” — and instead wait for a man who can be your friend for life, Dionne added, a sentiment shared by Jenny Martin Bennett, who nevertheless did not have long to wait. She said she met her mate at age 18, when she was four years her future husband’s junior.
“We talk about things, we are not mind-readers,” said Bennett, who noted that her 24-year marriage has outlived that of their respective parents. “If we don’t tell each other (what’s on our minds), how are we supposed to know?” She added that as a couple, she and her husband work through the downs, celebrate the ups, take breaks (“just the two of us”) and yet “do not feel the need to be together all the time.”
“We have the same outlook on life and we work toward our goals as a team,” she added. “My husband is my best friend and I really can’t imagine my life without him.”
Amen to that, said Theresa Beiser Miller, who gave a bow to compromise.
“The ‘for better or worse’ and ‘in sickness and in health’ stuff? That really happens,” Miller said. “It is very important to be friends. And to recognize that a good marriage doesn’t just happen. You have to be willing to work for it.”