Married 64 years, Fish and Frieda were a couple to notice.
The had to be the oldest looking people I noticed at the airport yesterday. When I saw first got a glimpse of them I watched them looking happy and healthy, walk into a restaurant and climb up onto two bar stools to dine for lunch.
I could hear their conversation… as the woman spoke, “I want a burger, plain…oh and water….I have to have a glass of water because I haven’t had water all day…”
The man with her nodded to confirm he had heard her over the loud music and then she continued telling him, “You want a burger…and get no onions because we have to fly and we don’t want to upset anyone on the plane…”
I almost laughed out loud and was slightly tickled when suddenly the man laughed and then so did she.
The woman looked so confident and in control, while the man across from her (who I assumed to be her husband) let her dominate happily.
As you all know from reading my stories of other conversations, I have little self control when I want to get to know someone or know more! And at this point I was like slobbering bulldog staring at a cat. Only mine was not of attack, but of curiosity.
I wanted to know everything about this couple. Were they married?? How long?? Was it a 2nd or 3rd marriage? Or did they find each other at 25?? Or 70???? Gosh, maybe they were siblings???
So, like you would expect, I went right up and asked, “Okay you guys, you look like you are married…how long have you been married…?”
They both looked at me with surprise! Which I understood as I talk with many older people who complain that they are invisible in our current society. No one sees them as active living and breathing people. It’s as if “oldness” is something to be feared and ignored so it will never happen! So I guess my approach was a bit shocking. But they embraced me immediately!
The woman, Frieda, was thrilled to see me and smiled big She spoke first about my question and said, “Well…why don’t you guess how long we’ve been married…?”
I took a step back and looked at both of them back and forth and said, “40 years?”
Frieda didn’t speak, she raised her hand like it was levitating and raised it up.
Frieda moved her hand up again.
“60 years?!” I said, wondering to myself; if they have been married more than 60 years, how OLD are they???
That’s when she said, “64…”
Wow. “You guys have been married 64 years?” It was then her husband, Fish as she calls him, made a noise like he couldn’t believe it either!!
Here is was! Another example of a long marriage for me to gather for you, my loyal married wives who want to better your own marriages learning as much as you can from others! I dove in! “So, that’s like forever! What exactly is your secret to staying married so long?”
Fish spoke this time after making another noise that was clearly a laugh, “Eat lots of shit.”
Frieda said, “Yep! That’s right! You gotta eat shit. Shut up and eat a lotta shit.”
They were too cute. I began a long conversation with the two of them asking many questions about the life and the family they have built together.
Here is what I discovered:
Frieda was 19 when an older Fish married her. Together they had 3 children, all girls, 1 who is 64 now and 2 (twins) who are 59. Frieda told me all about the twins birth and how the doctor told her she was going to have a 10lb baby and when he pulled out a 5 lb little girl baby, he said, “Oh, uh…wait…maybe there’s another one in here?”
“There was!” Frieda laughed out loud. It was so sweet how 59 years later, she remembers that moment like it just happened. I wondered how many times had she shared this story?
Oddly enough, Fish was laughing too, “Twins!” he said out loud. Not the reaction I’d expect from a long-time married husband who had not only been on location when the event happened, he’d probably heard Frieda tell this story hundreds of times. I loved the gift he gave her, of being so kind and listening to her as if hearding it for the first time!
“You guys sound happy…were there ever any bad parts?”
Fish changed his face and said, “Oh are you talking about the divorce?”
They suddenly both began talking quickly to each other about all the arguments and the divorce that almost happened until they both landed on words saying words to me, “Oh yeah! Oh! I was done! We were done! We almost got divorced. Twice!”
Then while we both listened Fish, he slowly said, “But you think….it’s gonna cost a lot of money….and if you think about it…it’s not that bad with you…” Frieda shrugged her shoulders and said, “Yeah…so…we worked it out. Cause that’s what you do when you are married, you just work it out.”
At one point Frieda asked me about my own marriage and when I shared an overview of what happened, she said, “So you overlooked that he went off with some girl and then you just took him back.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement.
I curiously said, ‘Yeah…” as I was sure she was going to say something more. And I was right…she looked sideways over at her husband for a quick second and then mouthed with a whisper, “That happened to me too….”
Frieda then said matter of fact, “I was always a stay at home mom…but then when it all happened, I had to go back to work, oh I was so good at being a female executive! I was the best! And you figure it out. You just figure it out. Right Fish…? We eat shit.”
Frieda then looked at him and asked him directly, “We were the only ones that lasted this long.” She looked at me and said, “We don’t have any friends…”
I was confused, “What do you mean?”
“When you get this old, you lose everyone. They either divorce and leave, or they get sick or they just die. We have seen it all. We are the last ones left…”
“But you have each other.” I said.
Frieda looked at me, smiled and nodded her head.
I really wanted to be alone with Frieda to ask her all the details of the “bad parts” and how she got through them, but there wasn’t time before their flight and in some way, I knew the information I got was all I was supposed to get.
I also got the feeling that Frieda and Fish (since the ages of 19 and 25) have truly “done” life together. It was terrible at parts and it was amazing during many others. But they have gone through all of it, together. The two of them.
And for that I had to share their story.
Marriages go up and down. Shit comes flying at you when you least expect it and then shit holes appear under your feet! I guess the point is to go into marriage ready to deal with the shit by making sure you both talk to each other about EVERYTHING. That’s the biggest tool we need in our Marriage toolbox to fix things: Our voices. Together.
If you are stuck…there is hope…
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You are loved and you are special.