May 9, 2023

A few secrets to long-lasting relationships


The hardest ship to keep afloat is a “partnership.”

            If marriage isn’t a partnership, I don’t know what is.

            Surely my parents quarreled during their 52 years of marriage, but I never witnessed anything close to raised voices.

            I remember reading an interview with Ruth Graham, wife of the evangelist Billy Graham. The reporter asked, “How is it being married to one of the most famous men in the world?”

            “Oh, it’s wonderful.”

            “But don’t you ever have disagreements?”

            “Sure. All couples disagree from time to time.”

            “Have you ever considered divorce?”

            “Heavens, no, but murder, yes!”


            It helps to grease the fussy times.


            Don Perno, who was my longtime Athens formal-wear haberdasher, always had an Italian joke. He loved having a laugh on his fellow Italians. Here’s what Don told me:

            During the weekly seminar for husbands at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, the priest asked Giuseppe to report his secret to staying married to the same woman for 50 years.

            Giuseppe replied, “Well, I have tried to treat her very nice. I spend a lot of money on her. For our 25th wedding anniversary, I took her to Italy.”

            His priest said, “Giuseppe, you are an inspiration to other husbands. Please tell us what you are going to do for your wife on your 50th anniversary.”

            With a big grin, Giuseppe said, “I am going back to pick her up.”

            I can hear Don laughing now.

            For a little religious balance, I share one from my church, the Baptists.

            The preacher’s sermon was on forgiveness. And he forgot evangelist Billy Sunday’s advice, “Very few souls are won after 20 minutes.”

            After 30 minutes of bearing down on forgiveness, the preacher asked people in the congregation to raise their hand if they had an enemy whom they wanted to forgive.

            Three hundred hands shot skyward. The preacher noted the hands and nodded. But he noticed that Mrs. Gladys, sitting on the back row, had kept her hands in her lap.

            A few more scriptures were read.

            And then he asked the question with a different twist.

            “How many of you have an enemy who you hope will forgive you?”

            Everyone raised a hand, except Mrs. Gladys.

            Surveying the crowd, he said, “OK, lower your hands.”

            “Mrs. Gladys, I have asked everyone to raise his or her hand if they had anyone they wanted to forgive or vice versa. Both times, you didn’t raise your hand.”

            Mrs. Gladys nodded.

            “Well then, Mrs. Gladys, if you’ve lived 93 years and you don’t have any enemies you want to forgive or any enemies from whom you seek forgiveness, I believe you have a better sermon than the one that I just preached.”

            Mrs. Gladys smiled.

            “Mrs. Gladys, would you mind coming to the pulpit and sharing your testimony?”

            Mrs. Gladys reached for her walker.

            Everyone waited as the matriarch of the church crept toward the rostrum. Several deacons helped her ascend the platform.

            “Now, Mrs. Gladys, please tell us how you have managed this relationship miracle.”

            With a quick glance to Heaven and a devilish smirk, she said, “I have outlived all the old biddies.”