On the Same Sheet of Music
Marie and Michael Garzone will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on April 19, 2013. The secret to happiness turns out to be surprisingly simple.
The deep bond between the pair of opposites is evident at first meeting. Mrs. Garzone is a warm hostess who retains a faint perfume of Old World reserve. Charming Mr. Garzone is full of energy, drumming on the table as he listens, touching her shoulder affectionately, and cracking sly jokes:
"Her parents were so happy when we got married, they sent me a thank you card!"
The Garzones do not so much finish one another's sentences -- rude interruptions would violate their longstanding rule:
"We were brought up in the same way, to respect," Mrs. Garzone explains. "If you do not have respect, you cannot love a person."
"And you gotta respect yourself, too," Mr. Garzone adds.
"So we made it, all these years," she finishes.
Conversing with the Garzones feels like dancing with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in perfect sync.
The sixty-year verbal pas de deux not only looks effortless, it falls pleasantly on the ear. Yelling and profanity have never had a place in the Garzone household. Mr. Garzone described a scene he witnessed in a local parking lot, with an annoyed mother calling her preschooler a name.
While he didn't intervene, the incident clearly disturbed him. He wondered aloud how these habits would affect the child's relationships growing up.
Simple Courtesies Create Peace
Respect extends to not making plans without checking first, even when Mr. Garzone's friends tease him about "checking in with the wife."
Most importantly, presenting a united front for the children is the first rule of good discipline. Both felt it was important to reach an agreement on childrearing matters first, then talk to the children.
A Legacy of Parental Sacrifice
Shared backgrounds made it possible for this pair of opposites to get along from the beginning.
Both are Italian-American, but Mrs. Garzone's comfortable childhood in Italy ended abruptly with the outbreak of World War II. War separated her parents on two sides of the Atlantic, with her father in America. Her parents were forced to communicate in code with the help of a sympathetic Italian-American soldier.
While her parents would have preferred to remain in Italy come peacetime, they deferred to the wishes of their children who wanted a new American life. Mrs. Garzone's warned his adolescent children that money did not grow on trees in America. They would have to work hard and learn English. Mrs. Garzone and her older brother accepted the challenge and the family never looked back.
Seven years later, the Garzones met at work, married, and settled in Newark. It was an elaborate sit-down dinner at a new Italian -American restaurant, not the "sandwich wedding" most of their peers made do with. Instead of homemade wine, American martinis were served. The couple honeymooned in fashionable Miami, making new lifelong friends with other newlyweds they met at hotspots like The Vagabonds.
"We didn't care what it cost," Mr. Garzone waved his hand. "we guys, we had the love of our lives!"
The good times gave way to difficult ones. When the children came along money was tight. Illnesses in the family meant extra caregiving duties after work. Like couples today, the Garzones seem to know scrimping and exhaustion firsthand. But the rule of mutual of respect has guided them through.
"Rules? To say we have rules is too...."Mrs Garzone shakes her head. "It's more...what we like."
Her husband readily agrees. "it's the way we like to do things. If anybody comes over, the grandchildren, anybody -- just respect it."
For photos and to hear more of the Garzones' interview, go to www.ninivaggiblog.com or click on http://ninivaggiblog.com/2012/09/28/couple-has-one-simple-rule-for-a-lasting-marriage/