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Last night I met a couple who was celebrating their 36th anniversary.

We were dining at a favorite Japanese restaurant, so my son and I were joined by two other parties at the hibachi grill. Thirty-six years of marriage, and they looked happy, peaceful.

I noticed Judy and Eddie because Eddie ordered for his wife. This wasn’t a controlling gesture. I watched, and I saw that he ordered for her as a sign of respect. She had wine and he ordered a Japanese beer.  I ordered a Japanese beer, so we both nodded and lifted our bottles slightly when our waitress brought our drink order.

He ordered their meals, but I noticed he turned to her to quietly confirm and make sure he was getting it right.

Eddie was going bald and wore glasses. Judy had lovely skin and the sweet face of woman who’d been loved and respected properly for 36 years. Or had she?

I began to wonder about their relationship. I gained some insight when our cook asked them if they had children or grandchildren. Judy softly shook her head and said “no.”

Eddie said, “We have cats.” Judy and Eddie looked at each other and smiled almost shyly.

I felt compelled to chime in. “Cats are like children,”  I lied. “Just not as stressful. That must explain your beautiful complexion,” I added. “I have two, hence all these lines,” I laughed.

They laughed.

The usual introductions were made. Wanda, Joseph, Jonah, and the cook, Joe: meet Eddie and Judy, the famous "been married for 36 years and still very much in love couple" of Middle Tennessee. I knew there had to be one.

A couple that loved and respected one another after 36 years of marriage – of course I had no way of knowing what those years had been like. Was there pain and suffering? Did their not being able to have children cause it? Or maybe they decided not to have children in order to preserve the quiet sanctuary of a marriage they had somehow created.

I would never know, of course. But Judy did let me in on one little secret – later, before they left, Judy came to my side and whispered, “I just started a new facial routine with some L’Oreal products, and I swear I can already tell the difference.”

On my way home, I hit CVS and picked up a few products myself.

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3 comments

  • Comment Link Wanda Friday, 06 February 2009 16:26 posted by Wanda

    Ditto: Yeah, I have the same feelings about this. On the one hand I cannot imagine my life without them. On the other hand, I think, wow, it would have been so much easier. I'm divorced, of course. And my children were not the cause, but they did create all that extra work and stress that I think my ex just wasn't prepared to deal with. As they got older and more demanding, his anger issues grew. And, as I got older...I grew more tired and reluctant to have sex as frequently. Yeah, I played a part in the demise of my marriage, but my ex was a wife beater, and there's no room for forgiveness in that arena, I can tell you.
    Wanda Woodard

  • Comment Link Andrea Friday, 06 February 2009 10:43 posted by Andrea

    This is an interesting story: I have suspected that childless couples are happier. Part of me envies them and part of me (and I have to be brutally honest here) wishes that when they are old they regret the hell out of it and feel lonely. I know, it is horrible to say, and I amend that comment to only couples that are child-free by choice. I know still horrible.

    But I envy the peace the must have, the time that they have to relish on each other, to go out to dinner at any restautant w.o having to worry about the kiddie menu or a babysitter, to just pack up and leave anywhere on a weekend or just a Saturday afternoon.

    One time, us and another family had gone to a cabin up in the north GA mountains for the weekend. Afer the kids were in bed, we were talking about how no one tells you what a pain in the butt kids are, even if you love them. So I ask the other dad "Do you tell that to couples that want to have kids?" and he replied: "Hell, no! Let them find out the hard way, like I did"

    Like I said, I envy them. I also wish them regret. And that's just horrible, I know.

  • Comment Link Wanda Friday, 06 February 2009 09:02 posted by Wanda

    Just an FYI fromthe author: The secret isn't make-up. I was implying it might be "not having kids." - WW