This week She Said He Said Books would like to honor long-lasting marriages that successfully stand the test of time, especially that of President George H.W. and Barbara Bush. No matter what your political affiliation is, you have to admit that a marriage lasting seventy-three years is admirable.
They first met in Greenwich, Connecticut at a Round Hill Club dance in 1941 while on Christmas vacation. At that time, she was a student at boarding school in South Carolina while George studied in Massachusetts. Right away they had to meet the challenges of a long-distance relationship. They got engaged just before he left for World War II in the Navy. At the time their engagement appeared in the newspaper, he wrote to her, "I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday! Goodnite, my beautiful. Every time I say beautiful, you about kill me, but you'll have to accept it."
Their love story lasted through George being shot down in a navy plane, getting married and then his attendance at Yale while starting their family, the death of a child, congressional races, raising five children, the vice-presidency and presidency, and all the pressures that come with public life. So what was the secret to their lifelong love affair? Humor was a big part of it. As Barbara once said, “One of the reasons I made the most important decision of my life, to marry George Bush, is because he made me laugh. It's true, sometimes we've laughed through our tears, but that shared laughter has been one of our strongest bonds.”
At Barbara’s funeral, her devoted husband honored her lifelong dedication to literacy by wearing a pair of socks showing a stack of books. It was a small simple gesture that made a large loving statement. Their granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, made this comment when Barbara announced that she would spend her final days at home without any more medical treatment, “She’s with my grandpa, the man she’s loved for over 73 years,” Hager said. “They are surrounded by family, but I think the fact that they’re together and that he still says, ‘I love you Barbie’ every night is pretty remarkable.” Even as Barbara drew her last breath, George was tenderly holding her hand.
The Bush’s marriage mirrored the motto “love conquers all” and it serves as a wonderful example to those couples just starting out in life. Humor. Love. Steadfast commitment. Those will always be important ingredients in a long-lasting marriage. To those elements add Barbara’s belief that it’s important for couples to keep each other grounded. Both should focus on the other. A marriage should not be 50-50. It should be 100-100. That is how you make it to 73 years of a happy marriage. Well-done, Barbara and George, and thank you for the example!