A Marriage for the Ages

By Guest Blogger Sarah Brokaw

A Marriage for the Ages

In contrast to many of the marriages in our nation, where 50% fail the first time, 63% fail the second time, and 74% fail the third time, my parents have sustained their marriage and have done it with steadfast commitment, joy and passion for 49 years.

On August 17th, 1962, Tom Brokaw and Meredith Auld wedded in Yankton, South Dakota, on the hottest day of the year. Even so, 150 of their friends and family filed into the un-air-conditioned church to witness the nuptials between my mother, the reigning Miss South Dakota, and my father, the loquacious and witty charmer.

In everyone’s eyes, it was obvious why my father would want to spend the rest of his life with my mother, the beauty queen. My mother’s beauty not only captured everyone’s eyes, but her grace attracted even the most circumspect members of the Yankton community.

A Marriage for the Ages
Meredith Auld

When my mother made the decision to wed my dad, eyebrows were raised. Many people wondered why she had not wedded the more eligible bachelors—like the town’s brilliant and sophisticated Eldon Weinstock. While my father was smart, fun, and quite attractive, he, in many people’s eyes, had not established any real goals to attain, or any clear roadmap to follow.

My mother listened to her own heart and inner voice, instead, and chose to marry my father. In fact, she was so convinced that she wanted to marry him that she proposed to him on June 9th, 1962. Well, actually, that is my dad’s version of the story. When I e-mailed my mother, to find out her version, she replied, “Yes, I did the proposing, but Tom did the old-fashioned thing and called on Merritt and Viv (my mother’s parents) to ‘get permission.’ The mother of one of our high-school friends prompted it by asking me what Tom’s and my plans were. I told Tom that Helen Desmond wanted to know and that was that.”

A Marriage for the Ages
Tom and Meredith Brokaw

While I am so blessed to have observed the beautiful and indestructible bond that my parents have built over the past 49 years, I still wonder how my parents’ marriage withstood the toughest of times over the years. But then I am reminded of one particular marriage announcement that I had read in the New York Times several years ago, that had left an indelible mark in my brain and in my heart. Rather than the usual details of the wedding being the focus of my interest—such as where, when, and how the couple had met—it was the quote given by the wedding officiator (a Presbyterian minister) that captured my attention. When the minister was at the podium with the bride and groom, he took a moment to describe what he thought to be the meaning of a successful marriage: “Marriage, in effect is with a stranger about whom you have a magnificent hunch.”

So, perhaps after 49 years, Meredith Auld and Tom Brokaw still look upon each other as strangers, about whom they have a magnificent hunch.

Amen to strangers and magnificent hunches.

About Sarah Brokaw

A Marriage for the Ages

Sarah Brokaw is a Los Angeles-based licensed therapist and the New York Times bestselling author of Fortytude: Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life — through the 40’s, 50’s and Beyond. As a psychotherapist, Sarah specializes in relational dynamics and her involvement with the wellness community is complemented by her engagement with the world at large. She is also a philanthropist skilled at helping people on an individual, as well as communal basis.

For more information on Sarah or to read her blogs, please visit www.MyFortytude.com. You can also visit Sarah on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @Sarah_Brokaw.

A Marriage for the Ages
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  1. Sarah, thank you for sharing such a beautiful love story with us. Having 2 loving parents as role models is truly the best. My parents will be married 40 years in 2012 and they are also the best of friends. My mom also told my dad she would marry him on their first date- talk about a hunch between strangers. 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. “Following that hunch” is really using your intuition. It’s that feeling inside you cannot explain but you “know” it is the right thing for you. Call it your gut feeling, hunch or intuition. When followed, it usually leads you to the correct road.
    Again, I enjoyed this post and I thank you,

  3. Before being married, oh how I idealized it…I longed for it. I imagined it would be ‘magic’….. one long date…like the movies. Man, was I wrong!

    I never understood what people meant when they said, ‘Marriage is work…It takes a lot of hard work….’

    Marriage is just like being with your siblings growing up, except occasionally you have sex.

    You take one another for granted, you get on each others nerves. You love him, you hate him depending on the moment.

    You have the same fights over and over…..

    The most important advice I would give is, ‘Don’t say anything you can’t take back.’ Oh do I bite my tongue… a lot!! When I recall the venom that was right there on the tip ready to be hurled at the man I love, I get a cold chill realizing how hurtful those words would have been. You may say ‘I’m sorry’ but the wound lingers.

    The guilt you feel is so much worse than the few seconds of triumph you feel at really stickin’ it to him when you’re upset.

    I’ve failed a few times and the venom has unfortunately been launched. It always ends up hurting me more than him.

    Make a point to tell him you love him. Tell him to his face, through emails, in voice-mails…tell him every chance you get. Brag on him. Let him know you’re thinking of him. Thank him for all the things he does for you.

    Life is fragile. Strive for a life with the one you love that includes no regrets.

    Marriage IS work!! It demands patience, compromise, forgiveness, selflessness and all the descriptions of ‘love’ in I Corinthians 13.

    Oh, but if after 15 years, like me, he still takes your breathe away and still makes you laugh. You win the best prize life has to offer…..You get to share your life with your ‘person’…..

    The joy of being where there’s no place you’d rather be. The gift of being with someone whose face you never tire of seeing and whose voice you never tire of hearing…..The utter satisfaction and safety of being ‘HOME’…….

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