Century-long unions are impressive, unlikely feat

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

by Roger Boughton

Last evening I was at a special Christmas dinner event at the Hormel Historic Home and sat at a table where a couple happened to mention that they had been married 50-plus years. His statement didn’t seem unusual at the time as we continued our conversation about the events of the day.

However, when Bruce mentioned that all of his four brothers and one sister had also been married 50 years as well as his parents, he got my attention. That seemed impossible and certainly beyond the probability of winning the Power Ball lottery. Bruce went on to mention that all six children and spouses are alive today and range in ages from 70 to 83. If he had not lost a sister to an accident when she was two, there might well have been seven golden weddings. This morning I went to Google and brought out some interesting facts about marriages in America that I wanted to share.

Did you know that the median duration of American women’s first marriages in 2009 was 20.8 years? Even when American women remarry, the median duration of their second marriages was just 14.5 years. Women in the mid and southern parts of the U.S. were among those with the longest first marriages. Women in both eastern and western states were among those with shorter first marriages. Marriages tend to happen at younger ages in states with longer marriages. If couples marry when they are younger and stay married, they will celebrate more anniversaries together. This didn’t surprise me as much as the statement which seemed confusing and a little strange. All of this information on marriages came from a new Census Bureau report titled, “Marital Events of Americans: 2009,” which examines marriage, divorce and widowhood in America.

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Bruce and Liz Richardson have lived in Austin a number of years, but Bruce was born in Vermont and raised in Connecticut. That would suggest a shorter than average marriage. However, Bruce has been married to Liz for 53 years. His father died at age 78 and his mother at 88. Life expectancy as well as long marriages seem to go along well together in the Richardson family. I discovered that Vermont’s life expectancy for males ranks 13th in the United States while Alaska has the highest divorce rate and 29th in life expectancy. It seems to me if you want to celebrate 50 years of marriage that you would live in a Midwest state that has a high life expectancy and low divorce rate and stay away from Alaska. A state to drop anchor in would be our state of Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes.