Couple Has One Simple Rule for a Lasting Marriage
Marie and Michael Garzone will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary April 19, 2013. The secret to happiness turns out to be surprisingly simple.
On the Same Sheet of Music
The deep bond between the pair of opposites is evident at first meeting. Mrs. Garzone is a warm hostess but retains a faint perfume of old World reserve. Charming Mr. Garzone drums on the table as he listens, affectionately touches her shoulder from time to time, and makes sly jokes:
The Garzones do not so much finish one another’s sentences — rude interruptions would breach their longstanding rule of mutual respect:
Rather, conversing with the Garzones is more like dancing with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in perfect sync.
This sixty-year verbal pas de deux not only looks effortless, its notes fall pleasantly on the ear. Yelling and profanity have never had a place in the Garzone household. Mr. Garzone described a scene he witnessed in a local parking lot, with a annoyed mother calling her preschooler a name.
While he didn’t intervene, the incident clearly disturbed him. He worried aloud about how these habits would affect the child’s relationships with others as he grew up.
Simple Courtesies Create Peace
Respect extends to not making plans with others without checking first, even when Mr. Garzone’s friends tease him about “checking with the wife”.
Most importantly, presenting a united front for the children is the first rule of good discipline. Both felt it was important to reach an agreement about childrearing matters first, then talk to the children.
A Legacy of Parental Sacrifice
The Garzones feel they have opposite personalities, but their backgrounds and shared values made it easy for them to get along from the beginning.
Both are Italian-American, but Mrs. Garzone’s comfortable childhood in Italy ended abruptly with World War II. Her separated parents communicated in code through a sympathetic Italian-American soldier:
Mrs. Garzone’s parents would have preferred to return to Italy in peacetime, but deferred to the wishes of their children who wanted an American life. Mrs. Garzone’s father warned his adolescent children that despite what they heard in Italy, money did not grow on trees in America. They would have to be prepared to work very hard and learn English. Mrs. Garzone and her older brother accepted the challenge and the family never looked back.
Seven years later, the Garzones met at work, married, and settled in Newark. It was an elaborate sit-down wedding at a newly opened Italian restaurant — not a “sandwich wedding” as many of their peers had to make do with. Instead of homemade wine, the guest were served American martinis. The couple honeymooned in fashionable Miami, Florida, making new lifelong friends with other couples they met in nightspots like the Vagabonds.
“We didn’t care what it cost,” Mr. Garzone said with a wave of his hand. “We guys, we had the love of our lives!”
The good times gave way to difficult ones. When the children came along money was tight. Illnesses in the family meant extra caregiving duties after work. Like couples today, the Garzones seemed to know exhaustion and scrimping firsthand. But the rule of mutual respect has guided them through.
“Rules — to say we have rules is too– but, it’s more –what we like,” Mrs Garzone explained. Her husband readily agreed, “It’s the way we like to do things. When the grandchildren come over, anybody — just respect it.”