Celebrating 68 Years of Marriage

Last week, my parents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary. 

Sixty-eight years.

My mind struggles to wrap around that many years of wedding bliss.

My dad, always something of a character, informed me the day before their anniversary he’d been married to Mom for 24,820 days and counting. 

I laughed, but the enormity of spending nearly 25,000 days married to your high school sweetheart still boggles my mind.

Russ GraduationMy parents met their senior year of high school. 

Dad’s family had just moved to the area and he only knew the closest neighbor’s kids when school started that fall. He’s always been friendly and outgoing, never had any trouble making friends and fitting in. In no time at all, he was involved in sports, playing in the band, participating in Future Farmer of America activities, and watching a certain dark-haired girl who’d caught his eye.

Dollie GraduationMom was shy and quiet, had a few good friends, and didn’t participate in many extra-curricular activities, mostly because my grandparents’ farm was quite a distance from town and she had no way to get home if she stayed late after school. 

Right away, she noticed the new, cute boy at school, the one many of the other girls were buzzing about. However, they ran in different social circles and it wasn’t until spring when Dad finally asked her out on a date to the movies. 

By the time they graduated, they were an “item.” Dad was gone for a while, serving in the Naval Reserves, but the following summer, they made plans to wed in early August. 

The dimple-cheeked girl with stars in her eyes rushed through her swing shift at the telephone office then raced out to the farm where a handsome boy who had captured her heart waited to make her his bride.


She didn’t have a fancy, elaborate gown. They both wore gray suits.

Their flowers were gladiolas, pink and white.

And they said “I do” in the minutes before the clock struck midnight due to her working late.

Not the stuff of fairy tales, right?

But the lasting power of their love — 68 years — includes a little fairy tale, happily-ever-after sprinkled in the mix. 

Growing up, I watched some of my classmates go through the trials and tribulations of having their parents divorce. By then, my folks were middle-aged and settled into life and into each other. I never once worried about them separating. They were then and still remain a united front.

I don’t think either of them ever once considered leaving each other as an option. They were just eighteen and nineteen when they wed, but they made a commitment for a lifetime.

And I’m so glad they did.

If you want to know about true love and real romance, ask a couple who’s been married for more than six decades. I bet they’ll give you some good tips and probably a generous helping of humor.

M & D at park young

Life wasn’t always easy for them. Far from it.

They had plenty of rough patches to work through, but they remained committed to each other and the vows they made.

Their little family grew from the two of them to three with the arrival of a bouncing baby boy.

It expanded to four with the birth of another boy.

And then my sister came along making them a happy group of five.

I’ve heard stories of the adventures they all had, the many, many times they moved before my parents bought a farm in Eastern Oregon and set down roots that kept them there for more than fifty years.

four kids

Evidently, after twenty years of marriage, they still liked each other, because they had me. (Both of my brothers look like they’re waiting for me to do something awful.)

And the family continued to grow with the arrival of grandbabies… then great-grandbabies. 

For  68 years, Mom and Dad have been there for each other — through fights and fears, laughter and tears, celebrations and sorrows. 

If you ask them individually, they’ll both tell you the secret to a happy marriage is listening to your partner and not always trying to be right, even when you know you are.

If you ask me, though, I’d say a big part of their longevity and happiness comes from these things:

russ with dog and heart watch

*My dad’s great sense of humor and the fact that he absolutely adores my mom. He always has and, after 68 years of marriage, I think it’s safe to say he always will.

Dollie attitude

*My mom’s loyalty and devotion to my dad and her ability to be a perfect balance to him.

mom and dad

I, for one, am so glad they  fell in love and have remained in love all these many years. 

If you could give a newly-married couple a tidbit of advice, what would you share?

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After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

35 thoughts on “Celebrating 68 Years of Marriage”

  1. Please tell you parents a belated Happy Anniversary for me, will you, Shanna, and give them my love? Thank you for telling us their wonderful story and sharing pictures, as well.

    (BTW, my parents were married in suits too, after WWII where my dad had been in the Army in the Battle of the Bulge, and my mom had been in nursing in a hospital for war casualties.)

    I wouldn’t ask anything of that generation who clearly is smarter than we are!

    • Hi Eliza,
      I will pass on your sweet wishes. How fun your parents married in suits, too. Thank you to your father for his service. So appreciate all the sacrifices made by that generation!

  2. I would tell them to talk to each other and to listen. Congrats on 68 years to them. I am working on 42 and I thought that was pretty good.

  3. I love your post! My parents celebrated their 65th in the spring and my husband and I will celebrate our 43rd in the fall. I think if God is first in the lives of people and you are always open, loving and honest, the days together will roll into weeks, months and years beside the one who you walk through life with.

  4. Congratulations to your parents as they begin another year together. This past February my parents would have celebrated 68 years also but their celebration was in Heaven! A marriage needs love, patience, laughter, understanding and the ability to forgive. Thanks for sharing!

  5. What a beautiful testimony to the power of love and commitment! One without the other just won’t cut it. You have to have both, and your parents are a glorious example of that, Shanna. Being able to laugh together is a tremendous blessing-it makes the good times better and the bad times bearable. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story with us!

  6. Amazing, Shanna. I’m a big fan of long marriages and commitment to each other. I think a couple needs to have the ability to laugh and not to take everything so seriously. Life changes on a dime and what was so earth-shattering yesterday might not be today. Your parents are a beautiful couple.

  7. Beautiful testimony, Shanna! My advice is to love the Lord first and always. Everything else is secondary to Him.

  8. Such a beautiful post Shanna. Please pass on my Congratulations to your parents. Wonderful pictures. There’s something about the 40’s in that many of the couples stayed together so long. My advice would be to always talk things out and never go to sleep angry.

  9. I love love stories! And your parents are a true example. Thanks for sharing. I hope your parents will get to read what you wrote about them.

    My advice to the young is to always make your spouse a priority in your life – seek his opinion, his company, even his compliments. And if he likes it when you slide his dinner hot under his nose every night when others might say he can cook his own dinner, do it because it makes him happy and satisfied. Because he’s likely done so many things for you, that you won’t even realize it.

  10. What a wonderful story. And lucky you to be raised by two people who have stayed together so long. We will be married 50 years next June. Met in 8th grade and that was pretty much that, although some tough times. But every time it gets rough you need to ask yourself, is it worth giving all this up?

    • Hi Sally,
      That’s awesome you are approaching 50 years. What a wonderful milestone. And how fun is that you met in eighth grade! Love it! Congrats to you and thank you for the good words of wisdom.

  11. Try to never go to bed angry and let your spouse think he’s right even when you know he’s wrong it’s just not worth the arguing. Shanna every time I read about your parents they just alway make me smile and even have a few happy tears. Love to you and them

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