Three decades of marriage: so far, so good

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Mike and Helena Bailey.
Mike and Helena Bailey.

It’s possible that the words to follow could fail to excite very much attention. Marriage is the subject, but the essence of the tale may not prove unusual enough for consideration alongside the very strong and contrasting arguments being aired about matters like same sex unions and other domestic entanglements.

Also, it tells of a couple whose lives together began rather simply. It wasn’t in the full glare of cameras as seems attractive via various bachelor and bachelorette programs, with some farmers also using television to attract partners. Getting to know each other happened on the quiet, unlike another recent TV offering called First Date and the wedding was genuine; not conducted almost instantly after some First Sight meeting. And the couple hasn’t been lining up for a Switch as refers to yet another show.

A church was the location for celebrating their union, where the blessings of God were invoked– and, whereas that once was a regular location for such events, many other relationships are now being sealed under trees, on beaches, or even in the water.

So, the story is so simple that’s beginning to appear that it may have occurred a very long time ago.

It happened 30 years ago this 17 May: it was the marriage of my wife, Helena, and me.

Forgive me for returning to the subject of an anniversary, but it’s difficult to ignore being together for three decades.

Drawing attention in this way should serve to focus on many similar stories of years spent together by couples who haven’t attracted attention to the stories of their married love which they continue treasuring each day.

Well, perhaps that should be most days. Our story is like that of other marriages in that we’ve had to address matters that created difficulties which, fortunately, we have overcome.

Very few relationships continue long term without facing problems: some because of finances or the innate differences between males and females; others because of demands in dealing with difficulties that may confront children; and even more because of the varied reactions arising from addressing the ageing process and the onset of health and other difficulties.

For us, it’s a case of “so far, so good”. And, that’s the way of a majority of marriages which are conducted away from probing publicity and don’t end up as additions to divorce statistics.

Congratulations are due, not to one couple marking 30 years of wedlock this week but to the many hundreds of thousands of others who continue quietly delivering real leadership in the true support of our society through keeping alive its basic and most traditional unit: the family.

We can look to our parents as even greater contributors to this quality: hers and mine both together for 44 years – until death did them part.

For us, the journey which began at St Mary’s Cathedral in 1986 continues and we live with the hope that of sharing further anniversaries.

Reviewing the recent encyclical from Pope Francis on The Joy of Love, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane wrote: “Marriage is not a state but a journey. The ideal is the point of arrival, but the real is one of many points along the way”.

Seeking to undertake that journey requires preparation rather than simply being embraced over the short course of a television series that seeks to cash-in on highlighting difficulties along the way yet possibly also hopes to present a positive outcome as couples may “live happily ever after” at the end – of the series, that is, rather than worrying about those many points which must be embraced as part of an ongoing union into the future.

Working to achieve that happy ending doesn’t come as easily as it might appear through the pages of novels dealing with romance: it requires a daily effort to continue demonstrating qualities of love and involvement that originally attract people to become involved with their partners.

Care always needs to be taken when reaching milestones like ours this week.

We appreciate that relationships need continual work – call it maintenance, if you like – to avoid the break-ups that then attract far more attention than the happy unions that persist.