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Fifty Years and Counting: The Marriage of Mr. and Ms. Heimer

For me, I don’t when it started, or how it even began. But, somehow my life began to resemble that of Zsa Zsa Gabor. My relationships score is almost on par with hers.

If our love lives were scored like an MLB batter, we would have been out of the game a long time ago! And that, my friends, seems to be a growing trend.

The world is moving too fast, and our concept of love and marriage is changing. When I was younger people would marry, and stay married, that’s just how it was.

But that has changed. It seems that more and more people change spouses as often as some of us change our underpants. It’s sad.

I spoke to a few of my friends about their thoughts on marriage and was blown away by their ideas and beliefs. Let me share just a few of their thoughts with you.

Stephanie told me that she thought marriage was never to be only one man and one woman. “Getting married is like when my grandparents, or parents were going steady,” she told me. “You get married to someone you would date long term. Then, when you are done a divorce is easy.” She snapped her fingers when she said “easy.”

Then there is Muhammed Siraj Adeel. I’ve known Muhammad since the army from the United Arab Emirates was stationed, and training at Ft. Bliss. Muhammad and I are the same age, and I expected him to have a much different belief on marriage than what he expressed.

“Marriage must be equal partnership,” he began. “Most think because I am Muslim I must have many wives. Not so. Amina is all I need for this life, and we teach this to our children. We teach they must find one love, and love them with all they have.”

Then there is my sister, Nancy Gomez. She has never said “I love you” to the person she is with. “I think people over use that word,” she said. “And what most people perceive as love is lust or comfort.” I need to find someone my sister will fall in love with, and then be able to say “I love you” to! (Hey, one can wish, right?)

Muhammad, who now lives in New York City comment on what he sees today.
“Too often marriage is seen as a throwaway part of life. ‘It didn’t work so I will find another woman or man’ is what younger people think. I won’t even start on this thing I see of open relationships and open marriages!”

After talking to another of my friends, David Sabor.

“The marriage Bri and I have works,” he pointed out, sounding just a tad bit defensive. “It works because we have a truly open marriage. If just to show you, Bri does not feel like being with me, or me with her, we can seek other partners and still come home to each other.”

Again, he sounded defensive in his answers, so I must wonder about that.

I also wanted to ask some of my friends what makes a marriage work. What keeps them with that person, even when they want to tie bricks to them and toss them into a river.

“Being equal,” is how Muhammad started. “And being in love.”

“Lots and lots of liquor!” Okay, when Ryan said this he was laughing. “It’ takes a sense of humor at best. And a vast quantity of forgiveness!”

Jay and Daisy Wills I met when I lived in New York City. They used to own one of my favorite bookstores in all of NYC. “It has to be give and take, finding the happy middle ground,” Daisy mentioned.

“What you need, we all need, is time away from one another,” was Jay’s answer.
“Once a year we take separate vacations and sow our wild oats, be who with who we need to be.”

When I told them this is almost the definition of an open marriage, or of swingers, they both laughed.

“No,” said Daisy, “It’s in the Bible. We are commanded to do this.”

I wondered just what version of the Bible they were reading. But, that got me thinking. I do know one couple that has been married for almost fifty-two years. FIFTY-TWO YEARS! I can’t even figure out what I am going to be doing ten minutes from now, much less fifty-two years from now.

Karl and Jeanette Heimer met over fifty-two years ago in Central Texas. Back then people didn’t rush into marriage or sexual relationships. They took the time to get to know each other, and the other person family.

That seems to be a very rare thing these days.

I was able to sit down with them and talk about their marriage, and what they would say to people looking for someone to marry.

Listening to the both Mr. and Ms. Heimer, I think the world be a better place, as far as marriages go. Some of their advice just seems to be lacking in today’s modern world.

One of the things Ms. Heimer pointed out is taking the time to get to know the other person before you marry them.

Oh, and do I know more than a few people that were married after only a week or two of dating. That’s what happened with me and my ex-wife, we were married after only a couple of weeks. No surprise that it didn’t last.

Mr. and Ms. Heimer also point to their faith as another key part of making their marriage work. Muhammad and Richard and Beth Owens agree.

“The ten commandments are a good guide,” says Ms. Heimer. “Do not kill, do not steal, do not take, do not trespass into the other person’s territory.”

“I agree with Ms. Heimer,” said Beth after she watched the video. “We can take what we read in the Bible and apply it to our lives, which will give us the happiest of marriages,” Richard said he couldn’t agree more.

“Though I am Muslim, I must agree with these wonderful people, the Heimers,” said Muhammad.

“For me, Allah has said for me to be most faithful to Amina. I believe God will bless us we make the keeping of this commandment. Jew, Christian, Muslim. Make God partner in marriage, and marriage will be most beautiful.”

“We must not if we are persons of faith,” cautioned Amina, “have a marriage that bars God.”

Pastor Heimer says we must continue to improve our relationship, “by going out for dinner, doing things she likes, and from my point of view, doing things I like.”

Another bit of advice that Pastor Heimer mentioned was to think of the other person. It’s too easy for us, even if we are married, or in a long term relationship, to become self-centered. Think of the “man cave” where guys go to escape and do many things. This was just how my father acted.

William Cottingham, my father, was rather self-centered. For me, he was the worst example of how marriage was to work. Over the last few years, I’ve determined to do the exact opposite of what he did. And what did he do? Would come home and watch television. That’s it. TV from the time he came home until he went to bed.

What family outings we did have were mainly because of the grandparents.
When my grandmother Josephine invited us somewhere, we would go. Outside of that, he was not thinking of anyone else, much less my mom, Janet. So Pastor Heimer’s advice is something I wish my father had known and taken to heart.

“Love the Lord your God with your all your heart,” the Heimers say together. “And love your neighbor as yourself.” Then, Ms. Heimer adds, “and you have to start with yourself.” That is a good place to start.

“I got this belief that all my marriages fall flat,” says Divina Sobiach, “because I just hated myself. Nothing good came from my childhood. Not a thing. That left me just not liking myself for some reasons. Ms. Heimer is right. When I turned thirty, I began to love myself. That changed my life.”

Divina says she is making sure that both of her daughters grow up not only their value and self-worth but also how to love themselves.

“Marriage is like a lifetime workshop,” says Ms. Heimer. You also get to know yourself during that life time she points out, and I think she is right.

We could all learn a lot from Mr. and Ms. Heimer. The lessons they have for us are the same ones they shared with their children.

There is one thing most everyone I showed the video to agrees about, “You want your marriage to work,” said Amina, “no matter your faith, or where you may be finding yourself in life, watch and listen to what these two dear people have to say.” What Amina says summed it up for the others.

You can watch the video by clicking the picture at the top of the article.  Watching this video, and spending twenty minutes with the Heimers will be time well spent.

About Steven Cottingham

Steven Cottingham is an artist, poet (haiku, tanka, senryu) as well as a photographer. Growing up, he wanted to be a columnist, as well as photojournalist. Life, and poor decision, led him down a different path. Today, Steven is chasing those dreams. He is currently working on his next book, as well as starting a small poetry journal. You may visit Steven, online, at www.StevenCottinghamPhotography.com

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2 comments

  1. They are great together. I hope I can find the right girl and be married for this long.

  2. You could not have featured a better couple for this. I’ve known the Heimer family for a long time. The Pastor is a very selfless individual who always trys to help others. His wife is a kind and caring person. I hope everyone gets to meet them through this feature.

    Glad you featured this, and other positive news.

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