Next year, my wife and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Already, when we’re asked and reply that we’ve been married for 39 years, we receive instant attention, congratulations and even a degree of respect. I realize that 39 years of marriage is only a beginning by some standards. After all, we’ve encountered numerous couples that have been married at least that long and many more that have been together up to 60 years.
Regardless, especially among younger people—25 to 40 years of age—we get more attention than we ever thought we would or even should. In fact, some of the youngest are downright enthralled to find out that we been married for 39 years. Initially, we put this down to the fact that they had many more years ahead of them in life and 39 years must seem like an eternity to them.
However, over a period of time, it’s become obvious that the entire group of 25 to 40 year olds is so impressed because their family either broke up early in their life or they were raised from birth by only one parent.
Many of them have been married and divorced at least once and almost all of them are living with their partner—in many cases with children—with no expectation of marriage. Marriage is also a financial consideration because almost always at least one of them has a disastrous credit rating. Therefore, the other has to sign for every debt incurred.
Obviously, as you might expect, women are most impressed and sometimes even wistful, but even so, they show only vague indications or none at all of ever getting married. My wife and I are slowly becoming one of the last generation who accept that long-term marriage is normal and expected. As every day passes, long-term marriage becomes a concept that burns dimmer and dimmer.