Marriage has been in the news frequently in the last few years. It has been re-defined, expanded, challenged, defended and re-examined.
One way to explore the topic of marriage, today or any time, is to look at marriages that have worked. I have one to suggest: the marriage of Bob and Genny Figel.
Most of my readers haven’t heard of this couple, so I’ll provide a little background. Genny and Bob have been my aunt and uncle since 1971, when I married into the extended Figel family. I’ve seen them up close off and on for more than four decades.
They are not a typical couple. For one thing they have 10 children, all whom are now college graduates and out on their own.
For another, Genny has been a lifelong Democrat; Bob a lifelong Republican. And they and their family have lived in many different places, including Pittsburg, Sacramento, San Jose, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Upland.
This year they celebrated their 61st anniversary. What has made this atypical pair such a good married couple? I’d like to suggest several qualities of their marriage that I think would help any marriage – typical or atypical – succeed:
Yes, they had some lively debates, especially about politics. But they distinguished the debate from the debater. They would discuss contrasting ideas often and at length, but they didn’t take their political and other differences personally.
All ten children understood the need to pitch in, and they seemed to have fun along the way, talking and laughing as they prepared dinner or washed dishes.
Yes, those qualities made for a successful marriage and helped them through their later years when their health declined. Bob, who had been so strong and independent, needed full-time care at home, but both he and Genny faced this challenge with a positive spirit.
It was a surprise when Genny died first, three months ago. But it wasn’t surprising when Bob died two months later; they were so closely linked, in this life and now in the next.
Their legacy includes ten independent children who have successfully pursued careers in fields like engineering, teaching, planning, writing and law.
Their children have, in turn, followed their parents’ approach to life: live fully and care deeply.
Bob and Genny’s spirit will indeed live on for many generations, in their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Yes, I’d say theirs was a good example of what a marriage should be.