By Katrice L. Mines, Editor
My view of marriage growing up was traditional. My maternal grandfather, a preacher, worked in a steel mill for more than 30 years and busied himself with a gamut of odd jobs on the side. He was, as was custom in his era, the provider. My grandmother was wife, mother of 15 children and worked for many years at a veterans’ home in Ohio. Most wouldn’t call them a power couple, per se. But, I would. They were married for 58 years, very active in their church and highly respected in our small town. I grew up living in the same neighborhood with them, spending nearly every afternoon at their house until high school so as much of my socialization comes from them as my own parents. I don’t remember ever hearing either talk about balancing marriage, family and vocation. Theirs was an age of fewer options; Stability and progress were cornerstones of conversation for my grandfather. Neither was college educated. Neither enjoyed a chosen career, but they were enterprising and forward thinking. As I became an adult, I understood that their trajectory was heavily centered on opening a pathway of choice for the rest of us. My grandmother died around the time that I earned my bachelor’s degree, and I moved in with my grandfather for a brief period. I would pass him day in and day out going between one of my three jobs. I thought it commendable until one day he stopped me on my way out and said, “You don’t want to work your life away.” That brief interjection brought me back to reality. Balance.
That’s been some years ago now, but it’s never far from my thoughts. And each year as I get to know the Tribune’s Power Couples — this year Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. and his wife Dr. Carol Espy-Wilson; Dr. Albenny Price and Helen Smith-Price; and Bob and Jocelyn Stargel — through the stories we share, they affirm that I’m on the right track. The “right one” hasn’t come along quite yet, but I continue to believe that it’s possible to have it all. Balance. What I gather consistently and appreciate from each couple’s anecdotes and tips, however, is that it’s not a fairy tale but a real-life, day-to-day, concerted effort. Anything worth having, of course, requires some measure of work.
Each year, the advice is constant: Take your time. Do all the things you want to do while single. Focus on career and education. Don’t settle.
This particular issue always inspires lively conversations with my unmarried peers in and outside of the office. Most want to be married and are holding out for something similar to what AT’s growing collection of power couples boasts — spouse, career, family and success, i.e. “it all.”
Interestingly, what I’ve always found comfort in is having both my mother and grandfather, at different junctures in my life, assure me: If you don’t want to be married, you don’t have to be. Removing the pressure of that societal norm from the equation of what it means to be fulfilled has given me the luxury of waiting for the right one, and the luxury of balancing other pursuits. In the meantime, I’ll keep taking notes from our power couples. AT