By William Thomas
According to WME, the faith-based Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Canada’s Longest Married Couple lives in Parry Sound, Ontario and they’re doing pretty well. (This is not to be confused with the couple who lives a few doors down from me and holds the title of Canada’s Loudest Married Couple. “Hearing aids,” I want to yell “will change your lives.” I said, “HEARING AIDS WILL … never mind.”
The Parry Sound couple earned the honour for longevity by getting married in the 1930s and sticking it out for 80 years. To put that in perspective, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and 10 other countries could not manage to stay together over the last 80 years.
Back in 1934, when they were married in Toronto, Clem was 20-years-old and Millie was only 15, which made it a “robbing the cradle” kind of relationship. Now 81 years later and looking back, it’s more of a “ransacking the rocking chair” kind of thing.
Clem was rather shocked to hear that they have received the WME’s award for marital longevity: “It’s hard to believe that no one else would achieve that.”
Really, Clem? Because today 41 percent of all Canadian marriages end in divorce and some are over right after the wedding bells stop and the bills start rolling in. I mean, c’mon Clem, back when you got married, a marriage license didn’t come with an expiry date, did it?
There are certain advantages to being married for more than 80 years, the most obvious being that you have no peers. When it comes to the institution of marriage itself, all other couples might as well be newlyweds. Plus in that kind of timeline, you could go without speaking to each other for a decade or two, and in the long run, it would have little affect on the relationship. How many couples can brag about a cute little flower girl who’s 86 years old today?
Until 2011, title holders for the World’s Longest Marriage were America’s Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, who divorced once the children were in their 70s and finally out of the family home. Herb and Zel were only staying together until the tykes were out on their own and comfortably established in nursing homes.
Larry King thought they should be awarded the longest married title until WME officials explained to him that it wasn’t based on an aggregate. It had to be with one woman, not eight.
Here then are some sure-fire signs you and your better half have been married a very, very long time …
• You never get tired of referring to him as your “awful wedded husband” and he loves to tell people that for your bridal shower you were registered at Woolworth’s Five And Dime.
• You remember when ‘shake, rattle and roll’ had something to do with dancing and not just trying to get out of bed in the morning.
• You’re both okay with getting shorter as you get older, but you wished his stories would follow suit.
• You’ve become so comfortable with each other that she no longer lies about her age and you only trim four or five shots off your golf score.
• You’re both in your mid-90s and you haven’t had an argument for almost 50 years because you haven’t heard a word the other said since the ‘72 Canada/Soviet series.
• You notice in the last few years he’s started to pick on you because there’s only so many things you can blame on the government.
• You’ve always appreciated his guidance and advice, but you’re getting a little tired of him quietly taking you aside and … just leaving you standing there.
• In the last while you’ve noticed that even when he is listening, he still manages to get it wrong.
• He’s 85 now and you always hoped that with advanced age would come wisdom and tolerance, not just bigger and better blue flamers.
• You both feel 10 years younger now that you’re taking a nap every night before bed.
• Of course you both feel really grown-up but damn, but you just wish you hadn’t become so mature.
• You celebrated 50 years of marriage with two minutes of silence because after a half century of being together, that’s exactly what both of you wanted.
• You still believe marriages are made in heaven, it’s just that most should be fitted with airbags.
• You like that law of averages that says you’ll out live your husband by seven years because you’ll need at least that much time to find the damn will.
• You know you’ve been together for a very long time when your hot flashes are now lukewarm and his cold shoulder has become a place where you go to cry.
And finally, your secret to a long and happy marriage is that you never go to bed mad at each other because by that time nobody can remember what the fight was about.
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