Should there be a participation medal for marriage?

I read a heart-warming story in the Toronto Star earlier this year about a couple Flo, 89, and Willem, 94. They were about to celebrate seventy years of marriage at the same church where they were married in 1941.

Reading their story made me smile.

Flo and Willem had lived a simple life, spending most of their married years in the same town where they met as teenagers. Their life did not seem to have a lot of bells and whistles but they raised six children and now are great-grandparents. Their humble philosophy of “never part on an angry word” is beautiful in its simplicity. It has allowed them to accomplish what evades most couples – a long and happy marriage.

Flo & Willem - happily married for 70 years!

Flo & Willem – happily married for 70 years!

What made me frown in reading the newspaper article is that they were being honored by a Catholic lay organization called Worldwide Marriage Encounter. Flo and Willem were the first couple in Canada to be recognized for their commitment to matrimony – one of the seven sacraments of Catholicism.

Should we be honoring longevity in marriage? I have my doubts.

For sure we should be celebrating the Flo and Willem’s of our world for staying in love for such a long time, and for their shared beliefs and interests.

But should we really be honoring couples who tough it out when they are miserable in their marriage? Should we celebrate them for their “commitment to matrimony” or bonk them on the head for denying themselves a happy life?

There is a reason that fewer and fewer organizations are giving people a gold watch at retirement. Simply showing up for work and putting in one’s time just doesn’t cut it anymore. As a teenager I received the “perfect attendance” award in my dance group. I really wanted (and deserved) the “most improved dancer” award but the teacher gave it to a girl with spotty attendance so we could both get an award. I felt robbed!

I don’t want to be rewarded for just “showing up” whether it’s for dance class, work or my marriage. Damn it, I want to be recognized for a job well done.

A participation medal for marriage?

No thanks.

Previous: Appending the launch letter to my son
Next: Blue, pink and rainbow work