On January 23rd, 1946, my grandparents were married. It was after World War II ended and Granddaddy had just returned home. My Granny’s uncle met my Granddaddy overseas and showed him a picture of my Granny. She was fourteen at the time. He was interested in her at first sight. He began writing her letters every day and sometimes they were even twelve pages long. When Granny was fifteen, Granddaddy had ten days military leave and he came to Highpoint, NC to meet her. When he came in the door, she had a full table of food waiting for him. She had cooked it all herself and he knew he needed to hold onto her. When he left, he didn’t see her again for two years.
The letters kept coming, everyday. After four years in the Army, he got out and moved back home to New Bern, NC. After being home a day or so he told his mom that he was going to Highpoint to see Lillie. His mother said, “Don’t you go up there and get married!” He assured her that he wouldn’t. He arrived in Highpoint on Friday night, January 18th, 1946 and five days later, they were husband and wife. I asked Granny once how Granddaddy proposed to her and she said, “Well, he just asked when we were going to get married.” Before they got married, he went to ask her parents for their permission while Granny hid behind the stove and listened. Before agreeing, Granny’s mom told my granddaddy, “Look, this is a lifetime business; it’s not together today and separated tomorrow.” On Wednesday night, January 23rd, 1946, my Granny and Granddaddy walked to the preacher’s house and became husband and wife. That Friday, she packed up as much as she could fit in a few suitcases and moved to New Bern, NC where she still lives today.
My grandparents were married forty-seven years before my Granddaddy passed away. Some would say “they got married after five days? That’s crazy!” I used to think it was crazy myself until I really thought about all of the correspondence they had together while he was overseas. For all that time, their only contact was written communication and they began to know each other on a deep level. He wrote her about everything. They likely knew each other better than a lot of us know our closest friends, because they didn’t have anything else to distract them. Too many relationships are destined to fail early in the relationship because too much focus is often put on one’s butterflies (i.e., feelings) and the physical attraction of the other person. Instead, Granddaddy was homesick and in a perilous situation. He grew to love the young woman that communicated with him – the woman that gave him comfort and adoration every day. She gave him lasting reasons to come home to her.
When my husband and I met in college, it was not under typical, American, romantically emotional circumstances. We began as friends and during our first Summer away from each other, we e-mailed each other almost every night. We talked about everything under the sun. After we were married, I printed out our e-mails and placed them in a book. It makes me happy to think that our romance had a modern flavor of my grandparents’ romance. Granny is eighty-one now and Granddaddy’s been gone for seventeen years, but she still speaks of him often. Some days she just wants to be home with him. They raised three children and had a good life together. They came to know the Lord together. They watched the Lord provide for them, together.
What I’ve learned from examining my grandparents’ relationship is that a good marriage does not depend on a perfect proposal, a stunning wedding, or even a ecstasy filled, deliriously happy dating experience. It depends on knowing each other deeply, without pretense. It depends on caring about the other person so much that you would not think twice about sacrificing your comfort for their comfort. It depends on communication. My advice? Take some time apart and write to each other… before the mounting pressures of engaged life (e.g., wedding and life planning), and married life (e.g., carrying out that life plan), begins. Get to know each other deeply… without having to be in the same room.