Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thirty years together May 15, 2012

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Audrey and Randy, May 15, 1982. We were so young then, only 25 1/2.

THUMBING THROUGH THE PAGES of our wedding album, I can barely believe that 30 years have passed since my husband and I exchanged vows on May 15, 1982.

Where did the past three decades go?

And who are those kids in over-sized glasses with more hair (him) and shorter hair (me) and both pounds lighter?

Could that possibly be us, newlyweds on the cusp of married life, grinning with the exuberance of young love?

That is, indeed, us.

Together then.

Together now.

Friends asked me Saturday night for tips to a lasting marriage. The question caught me by surprise and I simply told them they didn’t need my advice because they are doing well on their own.

Later, though, I considered how we’ve kept our marriage going strong for 30 years. For Randy and me, the fact that we were just friends before we even began dating set the tone for our relationship.

Friendship and trust. Shared values and a shared faith in God. All have been integral in our marriage.

Many times I think, too, that the similarities in our childhoods—both from farm families with little money—have curbed disagreements over finances. We live a simple, basic life and are content with what we have.

Yet, the differences between us have also benefited our marriage. Randy possesses a quirky sense of humor. He makes me laugh, lightens the moment, causes me to smile when I’d rather not. Without him, life would simply be less fun.

I am the serious one. I can organize and focus and keep everyone on task.

But I can’t handle medical situations. Our three kids have always known that they should go to Dad, not Mom, with any health issues. Need a sliver pulled? Take the tweezers to Dad. Wonder if that cut needs stitches? Consult Dad.

And when I faced health issues—a severe, three-month case of whooping cough in 2005, surgery four years ago to replace my arthritic right hip and most recently the sudden loss of hearing in my right ear—my husband was right there. I could not have managed without him. He took seriously those vows, “in sickness and in health.”

He’s also good with numbers and excels as an automotive machinist. (Get in line if you want him to work on your car or truck or van or tractor or…) This man of mine is a hard worker and has always kept his family sheltered, clothed and fed. For that I am grateful.

I’m also grateful for his strong support of my writing and photography.

For 30 years we’ve had this balance, this give and take, this relying on each other (and God) and tapping into our strengths to make our marriage work.

And, yes, most assuredly that love quotient remains, as strong, if not stronger, than 30 years ago.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling