Viewpoint: Holding Hands for 29 Years

By Barbara Gould
Special to the Palisades News

My husband Joe and I were walking in Santa Monica recently, holding hands as we often do. This time we were stopped by a beautiful 20-something young woman pushing her two-week-old infant in a stroller.

“Hello,” she said. “This is going to sound strange, but could I take your picture?” as she pulled out her cell phone.

“Okay?” I said, with a questioning tone to my voice.

She explained that her church group was discussing how to have a long, happy marriage. She thought it was so sweet that we, “an older couple,” were holding hands and looking affectionately at each other.

In the past we’ve had people give us that “isn’t that sweet” smile and look when they see us. But having someone ask if they could take our picture was a first.

I began to think about what couples who have been married for years do. First, and really important, they respect each other. They compromise on where to go for dinner, what movie they see, what scenic drive they take.

Our children were teens when we met, but certainly having similar child-raising thoughts is important. Where to live, how to honor your religion, how to choose your close friends, among other decisions are also important. Making these choices is critical, but one should NEVER compromise one’s values.

Many people think that each of you should give 50 percent to the marriage—as in, I do the gardening so you clean the house.

A better idea is that each of you gives 110 percent. We do special things for each other but no one keeps count. I don’t think we’ve ever taken separate vacations as some couples do. We do everything together.

If I go to the market or pharmacy by myself, people always ask me, “Where’s Joe?” and the same thing happens to my husband. The pharmacy clerk says we’re the cutest couple.

I asked a friend who’s about to celebrate her 65th anniversary what their secret is and she said, “Laughter.” That makes a lot of sense. It’s a great stress reliever.

Let’s face it—life does throw stressful situations at us. How we respond to it can make the situation better or worse.

My husband and I met when we were in our 40s, and we each had children from prior marriages. We decided that while we would discuss how to handle situations with the teens, the biological parent had the final say. I’m quite sure that avoided a lot of problems!

Next year we will celebrate our 30th anniversary. These thoughts have worked for us. I hope you’ll find the ideas useful.

(Gould lived in Pacific Palisades from 1957-60. She and her husband returned to town in 2000 when her parents passed away. She has worked as a sales representative for a candy distributor for 21 years and is active in the Marquez Knolls Property Owners Association.)

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