The thought of being with someone for eternity might seem a daunting task to some and even seem an unattainable one to others, especially with the dating culture that has been prevalent for the past few years. However, 30 years ago circumstances were different but love still prevailed. How does the relationship keep working after the butterflies have flown away and one’s feet are back on the ground? I spoke to a few couples to find out.
“The trust level was very high and love was so present. We found our partner and wanted to be together, so we got married,” recalled Betty Cook who was married to Mr. John for 46 years before he passed away in 2009.
Is there a magic potion that is a one size fits all? According to the couples I spoke to, no. Everyone’s story is unique and requires different forms of effort. However, the couples did agree that today, people take relationships for granted thinking that giving up is the solution because they can always find someone else—divorce being a common choice.
Betty Cook was the most vocal about it. “It is still a matter of giving and taking, and I think [the youth] need to be more cognizant of that. Social media today, I think also influences a lot of things. They see things other people their age are doing and they are not, and they get demanding and want those things. There are no plans.”
Speaking from a traditional standpoint, it was a consensus among the couples I spoke to that during their youthful periods, the 60s-90s, there was this societal pressure to meet someone and procreate to continue the legacy. That still might be the case now, but the younger generation’s priorities have shifted and evolved because they have realized that there are more opportunities that
Talking to my parents who have been married for 31 years, I learned that they dated, married, and had their first child within a year. I asked my mother, Minerva Andrade, why it happened so quickly. Was it a “it was meant to be” scenario or did the pressure play a part in her decision to escalate the relationship? “There was no ‘meant to be’,” she said. “I was older and they made fun of me a lot for not having kids or having someone to make a life with because I had older aunts that never married or had kids, and I did not want to be like them.”
Putting that in perspective opened my eyes to understand that even though love grew and most likely prevailed through the years, it wasn’t always the only reason to be with someone, at least not in my parents’ case.
My father, Jose Andrade, talked about the initial attraction he did have with my mother, and that even after traveling the world, he knew what he wanted. “I knew your mother was the one for me because I had already met other women from various cultures and I knew that there was no better woman for me than someone from my hometown who understood where I came from.”
Progressing through the ages, Mr. John Bangert married right after graduating college. His wife and he were together for about seven years and had two daughters before he realized that there was some internal confusion he was facing. It had nothing to do with his wife—she was and still is wonderful—he realized was gay. It took him years to find himself and grow into the beautiful person he is today.
“I did a lot of musical stuff. Therefore, I was involved with a lot of people with various degrees of life experiences. I was in Memphis at a competition and the young man who was my accompanist said ‘You know John, you’re gay,’ I was like, no what are you talking about,” Mr. John continues. “That is sort of how that started and then I started to realize that yes, I had a different kind of attraction.”
Mr. Bangert is 72 years old and just celebrated his 34th anniversary with his amazing husband, J.J. He could not imagine his life without his partner. “We are friends more than anything else. We share common interests,” explained Mr. Bangert.
This is why many relationships work. All these couples had things in common within their relationship, but not too many. They also seem to have opposite characters. In these three cases, opposites do attract.
My father and mother are the epitomai of opposites attract. “She was really aggressive and got mad a lot,” said my father about my mother. “He got over problems really fast, and that made me madder,” argued my mother.
Mrs. Betty and her husband John seemed to have similar characteristics such as kindness and selflessness. However, Ms. Betty was more type-A and Mr. John was more “go with the flow” kind of person. “He would help anyone. Literally, anyone. During all his illnesses, heart bypass, kidney transplant, no matter how he felt, he always had a smile on his face.”
With Mr. Bangert, J.J. is quieter and more type-A than him. “He has always been able to follow a straight career path in the banking industry and grow with it. He tackles tasks at the moment,” admired Mr. John about his partner which contrasts his creative and more easy-going character.
Nothing in life goes without challenges, especially long-term relationships. Talking to couples who have had long and prosperous marriages, gives me hope for this generation to see that progression in 20 years.
Mrs. Betty, Mr. John, and my parents all agreed that trust, communication, and a good balance of compromise can make a relationship last as long as love is also part of the equation.