Nedra and I attended our daughter’s wedding on the beach at the Fort Pierce, Florida, state park. It was a lovely setting and I was asked to give a blessing to Erica and her husband, Dwayne Morrell. It was a second marriage for both. I too had experienced a failed first marriage but with Nedra it has been 55 years of happy marriage and it is still a pleasure to be together. I decided to share what makes a happy marriage and I told the newly wedded Mr. and Mrs. Dwayne and Erica Morrell that is what we learned in our 55 years of being Mr. and Mrs. Elof and Nedra Carlson:
2. Recognize that you also have different interests and learn to respect these because no two people should or can think and experience life alike. The world is filled with the ideas and contributions of billions of others and we can often learn from those differences.
3. Learn to sort out the household activities. I pay the bills; Nedra does the cleaning of laundry and the rooms. We both take turns cooking and shopping. In times of need we pinch hit.
4. Help other people. We both find satisfaction and meaning in life when we help causes we believe in and individuals in need.
5. Appreciate each other’s talents and skills and cheer for each other’s successes. Encourage each other for your failures or struggles.
6. Learn to sublimate your discontents and turn disappointments into creative acts and works that benefit others.
7. Be each other’s confidante and don’t be afraid to express what dispirits you and what your innermost hopes and fears are.
Nedra and I differ in our experiences and talents but we share many of the values expressed in these guidelines. I admire her gifts in sewing, especially quilt-making. She admires my capacity to write almost effortlessly. We both love the life sciences with her direction leading to a career in in vitro fertilization and mine leading to a career as a geneticist. We both have a capacity to be flexible. I am less secure than Nedra in social settings. Nedra is less secure than I when asked to give a talk in front of an audience. We still hold hands and tell each other “I love you.”