A Little Secret On How To Stay Married A Long Time...It Ain't All Onions & Radishes

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Who would ever think a story about consuming vegetables that give you bad breath and gas would provide one of the best pieces of marriage advice I ever received? However, that’s exactly what happened 12 years ago.

In 2002, I interviewed my parents for a video presentation I was preparing for their 50th wedding anniversary. The interviews were recorded individually. Having long-term mates relate their joint experiences separately is not only enlightening but often downright entertaining.

For instance...

The G#d D*mn Green Ford

Early in their courtship, my dad came a’calling in what my grandfather referred to as that “Go# D*mn Green Ford.” My mother said it was actually a Plymouth—not that the car brand mattered much to her, just the car owner. No sooner did Dad arrive than did the fire whistle summoning local volunteers to battle an unknown blaze go off. “Get a car going, get a car going,” directed my grandfather, who didn’t own one but was a long-time volunteer fireman. As it turned out, it wasn’t much of a fire, but it was an awfully cold day. Dad had a little “tonic” in the glove compartment. Not knowing if his future father-in-law was a drinking man, he timidly offered him a sip (for medicinal purposes, I’m sure).

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(Grandpa Nick) "He lowered it about half-ways in one sip."

My grandfather, apparently not unfamiliar with this form of medicine, opened the bottle, and as my dad described, “he lowered it about half-way just in one sip!” My mother, unaware of the goings-on (even at the time of this interview), said, “I don’t know what happened, but from then on, he [Grandpa] seem to take pretty good to him [my dad]. I don't know why?” Go figure.

There’s a lot in the ways of interpersonal dynamics that can be drawn from that story, but that’s not the story where I got the advice on how to keep a marriage together for a long time. That came from a question I asked Dad.

It went something like this...

“If I asked you what it was that you do that Mom would say that annoys her, what would that be?”

Without hesitation, he answered, “I like to eat onions and radishes and drink beer, but when I do, I have a bit of a gas problem going both ways. She’d probably say that irks her.” Probably? No doubt, he spoke from years of experience. Then he had one of those big belly laughs. I’m not sure it was because he thought it was funny story or because he thought it was funny that I hadn’t gotten the point. The point came later when I was searching for the title to their “Golden” story.

Dad was the type who didn’t want to appear to be overtly imposing his thoughts and ideas on you, but he would test you with his stories to see if you got his point. If not, he figured you’d at least get a good laugh. 

Dad on "Gas Problems"

After creating and then disposing of several mediocre titles for this video I began to think about Dad’s “gaseous” philosophy. It finally struck me what he wanted me to know. That was the following: If you spend fifty years with someone, you’ll probably experience a few “onions and radishes” (metaphorically speaking); however, if you love them, try to understand them, and have patience and humility, your probability for sustaining a long and lasting relationship will be vastly improved because “It Ain’t All Onions & Radishes.”

When Dad passed away, my folks had been together for over 58 years. I guess he knew what he was talking about. Thankfully, it was recorded, and that advice can be passed on to my kids, their kids and their kids’ kids ... and their kids ...

And, that’s my point. 

Publisher's Note:  If you'd like to watch the full version of "It ain't all onions & radishes", click here.