The Secret To A 50 Year Marriage – Sliders and A Good Scotch


One summer afternoon, a leggy blonde teenager by the name of Sandi, threw caution to the wind and staged a one-woman badminton game in her front yard to grab the attention of a duck-tailed boy named Charlie, who lived across the street.  The two married on April 28, 1962 and just celebrated their golden anniversary – 50 years of marriage.

So what is the secret to being one of the 5% of couples who stay married for 50 years?

According to my mother, it’s having a sense of humor.  She has always found my father extremely funny including laughing at and with the man for half a century.

My father thinks the secret may be not being so damned self-centered.

My parents also have a Gracie Allen and George Burns-type shtick.  She’s the gabby one and he’s the dry one with the pithy zinger.  My mother’s motto is, “ask for forgiveness later” and my dad’s, “anything sounds better after a glass of Johnny Walker Red scotch”.  Add in the standard peace-offering of a bag of White Castle sliders and you have an idea of how they roll.

As a gift to my father, my mother promised not to talk so much the next 50 years.  My father was just glad to get it in writing.

At any rate, I can honestly say as a child, I never worried about my parents divorcing.  They may have had the looks of Ron and Nancy Reagan,  but the epicenter of their lives was not necessarily each other, it was their commitment to building and raising a good old-fashioned nuclear family.

We threw a small dinner party in celebration of their anniversary and were lucky enough to have in attendance several long-term friends who were actually part of the wedding.  My parents lived across the street from each other and there was a little girl named Betsy who lived next door to my mother.

Betsy was an adorable tomboy who was extremely inquisitive and would show up on the front porch in her nightgown every morning with a deck of cards wanting to play.  Picture a blonde version of the character of Scout in “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  She actually asked my father if he loved my mother before they even started dating.

Betsy was the Junior Bridesmaid at my parent’s wedding and said it was the highlight of her life.  You can see her little face in all the wedding pictures.  We are so lucky to have Betsy in our lives because she is a walking encyclopedia of my parents roots.  My mother gave her a little bracelet for being in the wedding.

Fifty years later, Betsy still had the bracelet my mother gave her.  At the anniversary party, she handed the bracelet down to my daughter along with the most beautiful note of how she was mad as a hornet because she got a bracelet instead of a baseball mit and she thought it was only right to keep the bracelet in our family.

I think there is a good chance my parents will live happily ever after as long as they have separate televisions and a White Castle up the street.  And while sliders and a good scotch may be the secret to needing a cardiologist, laughter and old friends are the secret to this 50 year union.

© 2012 Terri Spilman

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32 thoughts on “The Secret To A 50 Year Marriage – Sliders and A Good Scotch

  1. What a great way to start off the day, with such a good read. Your parents marriage is inspiring and they, along with Betsy, must have have had so much fun over the years.

  2. Great story with beautiful writing, as usual! Please tell them Judy Funk Klingensmith said Congratulations!

  3. What a great love letter to your parent’s union! I love Betsy and I haven’t even met her. What a cool chick! The thought of the bracelet brought a tear to my eye.

  4. A moving tribute to your parents that brought a tear to my eye! My dad died 6 months shy of my parents’ 50th. I wish yours continued health and humour 🙂

  5. Great blog (as usual), great party, great marriage, and great family. We loved celebrating this major milestone with your parents. Now that I am a celebrity, I have to make one small correction to the story. It was the highlight of my “young life”, they might as well have been William and Kate as far as I was concerned. Since then I have had a happy 37 year marriage to a wonderful man, and two great sons-so other highlights have come my way. My love and affection for your parents, however, has not diminished.

  6. Yes, of course. You have a beautiful family! I am grateful you chose to issue a correction on my blog instead of on The Today Show, because of your new celebrity status. You have made many people tear-up with joy today reading about your kind gesture. Thanks for letting me write about it. Just one of many stories of yours I should pen. I need to write about your mom next. Love her! You too!

  7. I’m in total agreement…a lot of laughs…a glass of wine regularly for my hubby, now and then for me…and decades of excising unnecessary baggage to get our priorities straight. We’ll catch up with your parents in 8 years. But, of course, by then they’ll be ahead of us again. Here’s to another 50 years for them…and us. 😉

  8. Positively, downright inspirational. Since DH and I are about at the quarter-century mark, fifty years together is the next goal, and it’s great to hear about your folks achieving that milestone. Humor and tolerance of the little things are so important in a marriage!

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