Friday, February 19, 2010 Rewind - Make It Last Forever.

[Editor's Note: Nearly a year after I ran this story initially, the couple of note are still together and still alive. They just celebrated their 85th anniversary, and made news recently for giving relationship advice on Twitter. Follow em' while they're still around. And enjoy this stroll down memory lane.]

I've been married nearly 8 9 years now. Beautiful wife who gets prettier with age. Two great sons who look just like me. It's lovely.

By all accounts AverageSis and I shouldn't have made it this far. The typical American marriage lasts barely long enough to send out thank you cards for the wedding gifts. The National Center for Health Statistics says nearly half of all marital unions end in divorce at some point. So, by making it as long as we have, we're beating the odds already.

Marriage is certainly no walk in the park. It's continual compromise. It's continual growth. It's continually coming out of your comfort zone. In short, it's a whole lot of work, and given the baggage many people bring into it, it's a wonder that the 50% success rate is as high as it is.

Before I got married, I made it a habit to ask folks who'd either been married or divorced[1] for their advice.[2] When I talked to folks who'd made it last a long time, I'd seldom get a consistent "secret" for why. Some would say communication is the key. Others would say good sex is a must. I heard the word "forgiveness" quite a bit also. But I guess what ultimately makes a marriage work is the mutual desire for it to succeed. I'm convinced that if both people are simply in agreement that they just will not fail, then you've already figured out about 95% of the trick. If you've got that much down, the rest is a piece of cake.

All that said, I'd love to pick this couple's brains. Seriously.
A Craven County couple are in the Guinness World Records book. The two did nothing outlandish such as sky-diving upside down, dancing for days, taking the longest lawn mower ride or having the most tattoos.

No, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of the Brownsville community have been married for more than 84 years. That is a feat in itself. They have the world record of the longest marriage for a living couple.

They can thank their granddaughter Iris Godette for getting the recognition. She submitted the information to the Guinness Book of Records. The information was apparently checked by Guinness and a certificate was given to the couple.

However, when you ask Herbert about the Guinness recognition, he just says, "Oh, Yeah?" The recognition has not changed their life. He still looks at her with love and concern, as she looks toward him as if he will give her strength and guidance.

They have lived for more than 50 years in a house near the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport. They lived in James City before that but the land was purchased for apartments and the two moved.

Herbert was born June 10, 1905. His hearing is going but his mind is sharp. Zelmyra was born Dec. 10, 1907. She uses a walker to get around the house and yard. The two of them can still give their reasons for marrying on May 13, 1924.

"He was not mean; he was not a fighter," Zelmrya said. "He was quiet and kind. He was not much to look at but he was sweet."

Herbert said Zelmyra never gave him any trouble. "No, no trouble at all. We never argued, but we might have disagreed," he said.

Norma Godette, one of the couple's five children. said her parents have gotten along well through the years.

"One time, mama wanted to work. Daddy told her she could not work, that he could take care of the family. She slipped down to Cherry Point and got a job as a caretaker there," Godette said.

"Well, it was done; she got the job. I had to let it be," Herbert said.

They have no secret or sage advice as to why their marriage has lasted so long.

"I didn't know I would be married this long," Herbert said. "But I lived a nice holy life and go to church every Sunday.

"Yes sir, anything for her."

Zelmyra said Herbert was the only boyfriend she ever had. "We got along good," she said. "There was no trouble."

She said she is not tired of seeing him. "I didn't think I'd be married this long. He is quiet," she said.

Zelmyra said her husband had no annoying habits. They both said they shared the title of "boss."

The two sit on the porch and as a train goes by they count the cars. They also watch the neighbors who walk by.

"They were excellent parents," said Norma Godette. "We were poor, but we didn't do without a thing. If he had two cents he saved one cent."Herbert worked as a mechanic at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in New Bern for 35 years.

He took a bicycle, caught a cab or had a neighbor drive him to work. That hard work and savings put all five of the children through college. Inside the house are plaques, letters of recognition, and awards that both the Fishers and their children received for accomplishments in civic duties and church.

The house where they raised their children has two sitting rooms and three bedrooms. Now that the children are grown, the Fishers enjoy having a bedroom for each. Herbert Fisher can stay up until the last ball is thrown in the ballgame he is watching. And he does. Herbert makes his bed each day and sweeps his floor. He also checks on his wife as she rests.

Between the rests, they enjoy their children, ten grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Both say that if they had it to do over, they would not change their life.
You can be a cynical bastard all you want, but tell me reading this story did not make you smile just a bit.

Some will say that times have changes, and marriages are less about economic necessity, and about love nowadays. Many will say they "don't make men like they used to".[3] Still more will say divorce is more socially acceptable nowadays. These things may all be true to some degree, but they have nothing to do with the two people in the marriage. I repeat, if both people wanna make it work, it will work. Period.

Eff' Mike. I wanna be like Herb.

Question: If you're married, what's your "secret" to making it last? If you're divorced, what would you have done differently, other than not marrying that cheating bastard in the first place?

Married 84 years, and still loving [New Bern Sun-Journal]

[1] You can learn so much from someone who's failed miserably at something and is transparent and honest enough to share what they did that contributed to that failure, rather than just blame the other person. Seriously.

[2] You'll notice how I didn't ask anyone who'd never been married for advice. Seriously, ladies, your single girlfriend whose longest standing relationship is with Häagen-Dazs® has no business offering you marital advice. Would you ask Bernie Madoff for stock tips? I think not.

[3] However, if you ask around at your family reunion, you might learn some things you don't really wanna know. The dirty little secret is that lots of men back in the days (I'm talkin' the 40's and 50's) had two families. One they lived with, and another on the other side of the tracks that they provided for, but only saw when they could. Let's not be deluded into revisionist history here. Staying married, yet having a "side family" isn't too far removed from just having 3 baby mamas? Am I right, or am I right?

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