Tuesday, September 05, 2006

what 50 years of marriage looks like

Sunday we spent 12 hours combing through 25 photo albums covering the 50 year marriage of my dad's aunt and uncle who will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary next year. They hired us to do their wedding presentation video that will be played at the reception. We scanned nearly 300 photos. Plus, to make it more interesting, we interviewed them separately ala newlywed game about their lives. We'll go back again and video tape them together. There's already some funny footage.

Going through the albums I relived our lives growing up since this was the side of the family we grew up with, the extended cousins on my dad's side. This year seems to be the year for the Bautista family as most of our gatherings are on that side of the family: weddings, children, anniversaries.

Auntie and Uncle spent much of their retirement going on cruises, seven in all that covered some 20+ countries, mostly in Europe all the way to Turkey, once to Aruba, once to Mexico, several times to Hawaii, and once to Alaska. We learned alot about them and their life before we knew them. How uncle was a Philippine Scout after the war. How auntie was a teacher and home economics major. How uncle was already 44 when he first came here and how they've lived in this house for over 35 years and watched it go from a fairly scary neighborhood with gunshots out the window to its gentrified status near Rockridge. How one worked for Pac Bell and the other for AT&T. How they met and got together. How he lied about his age. How they managed to get through 50 years. And what they like most about each other.

They themselves told their children that they needed to date a prospective wife for at least 5 years. They didn't understand why anyone would marry someone they didn't like.

Not all of the 50 years were bliss. We noted a gap during the late 70s and early 80s where there were very few pictures, not even enough for an album. There were a few pictures from that time, but not usually of them. We didn't ask about that time. But if you count it up those years accounted for about a tenth of their married lives.

Since the other 50th wedding anniversary last month and making this mini-film for the next one, it's been interesting seeing what goes into a 50 year marriage and I think about our own married life. At the wedding anniversary last month there wasn't just 2 or 3 50+ couples, there were nearly a dozen couples in and around 50 years of marriage. They and all their friends were part of long marriages.

I wouldn't ever think that my generation would ever be so lucky as the odds are almost against us (50% divorce rate). But if makes me wonder what it takes to beat the odds. Reading articles about how we have fewer best friends and join less associations, and how we are disconnecting more and more from each other. It makes me wonder if it indeed takes a village to raise a child, whether it also takes a village to keep a marriage together. And though I'm sure there are people that would argue about "marriage" as an imposed government and religious institution, I'm simply talking about having a committed life with someone. And what does that look like over the years and how does it remain through the ups and downs.

So this project though for entertainment purposes has a bit of research in it. I feel like I'm putting together the opening segment of "When Harry Met Sally". Which reminds me, I should watch that DVD to look for questions to ask them the next time around. Oh, it's going to be fun!

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