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Happy 36th Anniversary, Mr. F!

Posted Sep 26 2008 5:16pm

Thirty-six years ago today, Mr. F and I pretty much ignored all the advice we were given and got married at Los Angeles City Hall. The judges took turns on their lunch breaks, and you took a little number and waited in line. While waiting, we had to make several trips to our 65 VW bug to feed the parking meter–no point in starting married life with an expensive ticket! Our judge was named an unforgettable Xenophon P. Lang. We were just about to start our junior year in college, had no money (Mr. F was on an athletic scholarship, and I was a Regents scholar), and saw no purpose in throwing a big party for people who thought the whole thing was not such a great idea. I understand that the average American wedding now costs $30,000, which is just obscene. My personal observation is that there is a strong negative correlation between wedding costs and longevity–the more expensive the party, the less the people are really thinking about what they’re doing, and the shorter the marriage is likely to be. Over the years, people have argued that we still owe them a party, but we just never got around to it. Maybe for #50?

The future Mr. and Mrs. Roger Freberg

The future Mr. and Mrs. Roger Freberg

Roger and I haven’t known each other since these photos were taken (I think we were both 6), but we have known each other since we attended 7th grade at Henry E. Huntington Junior High in our home town of San Marino, California. I remember Roger caused a sensation in science class that year, as he constructed a laser that could pop balloons, while the rest of us were growing lima beans in the closet. On another occasion, my dad practically crashed the car when he saw a 10th grade Roger walking down Huntington Drive, shot put in hand, because he couldn’t believe that a high school boy could be so muscular. Little did I know, as I described my classmate, that my dad was learning about his future son-in-law for the first time!

But here we are, 36 years and three lovely adult daughters later, still wearing matching windbreakers and holding hands when we take our walks around the neighborhood.  You know you’re getting old when your younger neighbors refer to you as “cute.” But on the plus side, we did have the lovely experience of having one of the young dads on our route stop us to say that watching us walk by over the years had inspired him and his wife to work harder to be closer. I hope they’ve been successful at that.

So do I have any words of wisdom for people who want a long term relationship to work? Psychologists have lots of fancy ways of talking about this–communication skills, equity, and so on. It’s hard to improve on what John Gottman and his colleagues or the eHarmony folks have discovered through years of careful research. But we have our own marriage to-do list…ALWAYS be honest, never go to sleep angry, quality time does not substitute for quantity time, honor the simple services you do for each other (getting a cup of coffee, offering a shoulder massage) and keep laughing together (not hard to do around Mr. F, whose unique sense of humor is legendary in our family)!  But as one of Karen’s college dorm room posters said, #1 on the list is “marry the right person.” There is no #2.

So thanks, Roger, for 36 really fun years (plus the 3 others when we dated)! I’m currently banished from the kitchen, where the “Skinny Chef” is preparing something fabulous for the occasion!

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