In modern times it is very much the case that couples decide to move in with each other long before any decision is made about the prospect of marriage. 

Frequently living together and having children does not automatically result in the couple tying the knot. Changing partners and moving on to the next live-in situation is now accepted. Such arrangements clearly suit lots of people. The nature of marriage has changed over the years. Divorce is easier and more acceptable that it was back in the day. 

Despite modern trends many marriages do last a lifetime. There is no secret formula to ensure that the union will last the course. Way back in time I asked my father about the wisdom of marriage to a young lady five years younger than me. I wanted to know if he had any advice. My father was a man of great wisdom and highly respected in our community. First he said not to worry as “little girls get bigger every day”.  He meant this to me in maturity not physical size.  His second piece of advice was to always do the washing up. In today’s society with dishwashers to hand this seems a redundant piece of advice. What he meant was that you should not take your wife for granted and make sure you do your bit in terms of domestic duties. His final word was to tell me never to go to bed on an argument. He was a wonderful father whom I admired. Probably I idolised him too much not seeing any faults, which of course we all have to some degree. 

Taking his advice I did marry the young lady some 58 years ago. That we are still a couple is because she has shown love and devotion well beyond the call of duty.  To say I am accident prone is an understatement. Bull in a China shop best describes my character. Like most men I am opinionated and always believe I am right. Living with such a character takes real strength of character and a good sense of humour. It is no secret that I have just had a major hip replacement. The result has been that my contribution to all daily chores has been zero. My meals have been prepared and I have only managed one tiny piece of washing up. Shopping, cleaning, bed making and washing and ironing have been a foreign country to me. I watch her small frame drag out the bins each week hoping she does not injure herself. Refusing to let anything get in the way of my recovery she has just got on and done everything.  At the same time I shuffle around on crutches doing my daily timed walks and leg exercises. 

Such thoughtful unswerving support can only come from love. It is a wonderful gift to know that another person is happy to put your needs before themselves. If a marriage is to work it must be a reciprocal arrangement. In the past I too have had to be chief cook and bottle washer with nowhere near the success of my wife. The times I forgot to make gravy or served it up with lumps is too many to count. 

Why my wife has not been awarded the George Cross for gallant service I do not know. No doubt many men are in the same lucky position as me. They too have devoted wives willing to be by their side in good times and bad. 

The institution of marriage is less popular today. Many couples live happy lives together without the marriage certificate.  Same sex unions are fortunately accepted in a more tolerant world than in the past. 

 If you can tackle the ups and downs of modern life for over a half a century then, as The Beatles sang, “It must be love”..