The Year of Golden - Episode 3

By: Kelly McDonald


Editor's note:  This is Episode 3 of a three-part memoir series comprising micro-essays. Each essay touches on a memory highlight, describing it in less than 500 words.

How can I capture the true meaning of fifty years of marriage to Beverly? Our engagement, a short eight weeks long, now seems uneventful. Our marriage ceremony, then the reception and honeymoon, clicked off like clockwork. By early summer of 1974, Beverly and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment in south Provo, both working full time, learning how to become a married couple.

But it wasn’t going well. Agreeing on everything, from the dinner menu to what we watched on television, was taking its emotional toll. Our tempers were short, and the tiny upstairs apartment was hot in the waxing summer. One blistering Saturday in July, we traveled to Salt Lake City to shop for home furnishings. But our tensions hadn’t waned, the crowds were large, and on the way home, Beverly expressed her frustration: “We don’t get along very well, do we?”

It was a wake-up call for me, for both of us. We realized that happy marriages didn’t magically materialize. They took a lot of work, constant compromise, daily vigilance, to keep them ripening towards golden. It wasn’t a matter of marking off the years. We both needed to learn how to resolve our differences without creating conflict. 

We began to work together to avoid that point when a disagreement escalated. I’m willing to sweat a bit to keep the air conditioning off and save a few cents, but I learned when to recognize in Beverly’s face that it's time to lower the thermostat. She realized when we’re traveling together that grabbing the armrest and stepping on an imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side of the car was distracting to my driving. We both recognized our differences in how we approach shopping. I have my list and quickly move to retrieve each item. Beverly views shopping as an adventure, so she explores every aisle. 

When building our family home, this continual reconciliation was critical. Beverly had firmly decided that the front porch should be extended beyond the original plan, at a significant cost. I realized how important this was to her, and I relented. She recognized my firm desire to build a home network, back when the Internet was emerging, just beginning to impact our lives.

And that’s what we’ve done, year in, year out, for the past fifty years. Even today, adjustments in our landscaping, or how we use the spare bedrooms, call for a continuance of our ongoing dialogue about home. I still account for every dollar spent; she looks for a good deal despite our bank balance. Sometimes I’m a bit slovenly in my grooming; she won’t leave the house with a hair out of place. I’m ready for church services forty minutes before the meeting starts; she would rather slip in just before the opening song. But we’ve learned over our fifty years together to not let such differences become conflicts.

Together, we’re looking forward to another milestone in our marriage, that year of diamond, in 2034.


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