By Celine Klosterman
RIVERSIDE — It takes commitment, selflessness and faith, couples agreed.
“I think you have to put your partner ahead of yourself,” said Carol Dupuis. A member of Ss. John & Paul Parish in Burlington, she and her husband, Bob Dupuis, were among couples who attended an annual Mass for parishioners in the Davenport Diocese who’ve been married 50 years or more. This year, about 40 couples accepted invitations to the Mass celebrated at St. Mary Parish in Riverside Oct. 11.
“It’s about give and take; you can’t just take,” said Sally Box, a Ss. John & Paul parishioner who married Ed Box at St. Paul Church in Burlington. Marriage is for better or for worse, she added.
Bishop Martin Amos offered similar words during his homily at the Mass. Quoting the first line of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” he said, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times… it was the season of light; it was the season of darkness.”
He compared that line to the wedding vow: For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. Those words have deep meaning for couples married 50 years, Bishop Amos said.
No life is always the best, richest or healthiest. All lives have the best of times and worst of times.
Expanding on that idea, the bishop cited a legend saying a king asked King Solomon to compose a motto that would serve in times of both prosperity and adversity. King Solomon supposedly said, “This too shall pass.”
“I’m sure all of you, after 50 years of marriage, could write a book with stories of great joys and stories that would make us cry,” Bishop Amos said. In between those stories would be tales of ordinary life — compromising, doing chores, raising children. “It might not be a bestseller, but it’s your story.” And it could very well begin as Dickens’ novel did, he said.
Bishop Amos also quoted part of a poem offering thanks for both friends and “challengers,” for joys and for sorrows, and included the line, “We thank you for remembering and forgetting.”
“We thank you for remembering and forgetting, for all the events that mark your lives,” he said.
Ending his homily, he praised the couples attending, calling them an “inspiration” because of their love and fidelity. They then renewed their marriage vows.
Later, several couples attributed their lasting marriage in part to a sense of commitment.
“You have to start out with the idea that you’ll stay together,” said Ed Box.
Carol Dupuis, who was married at St. John Parish in Burlington, agreed. “I think our generation went into marriage with the idea that this is it.”
It takes effort, said Leo Fier. A member of St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt, he and his wife, Darlene Fier, wed at Sacred Heart Parish in Maquoketa.
“You just have to work at it every day,” Darlene Fier said.
She and Carol Dupuis also mentioned faith’s importance. “I think I subconsciously looked for a Catholic man,” the Burlington parishioner said. She admired the bond her Catholic parents shared and wanted a similar foundation for her own marriage. In her relationship, she’s appreciated that her husband’s strong faith has strengthened her own.
Communication is vital, too, said Bertha Andresen, a member of St. Joseph in DeWitt. She and her husband, Edwin Andresen, wed at St. Mary Parish in Bryant. The biggest reward of a lasting marriage, she said, is having a friend and companion who understands you.
Joked Leo Fier, “You love each other despite their warts.”