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43 Years Later: “marriage is a marathon”

Man and woman post on their wedding day in 1977

By Madison Gummow

Edmonton couple, Carolyn and Joe Weleshuk, have been together for 43 years. They celebrate their anniversary on the day of their first date because they haven’t been without each other since.

“We met in June of 1977. I was with a friend of mine, who happened to be Joe’s cousin, and when we were walking back to our vehicle we saw Joe standing at the bus stop. So we offered him a ride home,” Carolyn said.

“We dated for four years then got engaged. One year later we had a lovely wedding and now we’ve been together for 43 years.”

Man and woman post on their wedding day in 1977
Carolyn and Joe Weleshuk on their wedding day. | Supplied photo.

Commitment played a major part in their ability to work through hard times in their relationship.

“Something that I’ve learned through our relationship is that if it doesn’t work 100 per cent both ways, it’s going to be tricky. If you’re not both committed … it’s not going to work,” said Carolyn.

“Love comes in many different forms. It doesn’t have to be infatuation, it doesn’t have to be flowers. It can be when you’re at your partner’s bedside because they’re ill or you’re supporting them through a hard time at work. It’s the things that aren’t often written about in Valentines Day cards,” said Joe.

Woman in white wedding dress looks solemn on her wedding day.
Carolyn Weleshuk on her wedding day. | Supplied photo.

The best advice they received before getting married was actually no advice at all. This gave them the space to work together to make things work.

“Interestingly enough, at our very young age, we got very little advice from our parents. You just sort of have to figure it out by yourself. But what we did get was a tremendous amount of support,” Carolyn said.

Growing as an individual can be tough in a relationship. It can be hard to remain your own person and evolve into who you want to become while also trying to stay the person your partner fell in love with.

“Let them grow. I’m certainly not the same person I was 43 years ago and neither is Joe, but you just sort of stumble along and figure out that letting the other person grow works towards your benefit,” said Carolyn.

Man and woman pose together holding hands in a church.
Carolyn and Joe Weleshuk in 2019.

“Sometimes it feels like as they’re growing, you’re moving apart but that’s not always the case,” Joe said.

Specifically in college, relationships can be difficult to maintain. Finding time to be with your partner or enjoying moments spent together can seem impossible under the stress of assignments and exams.

“We weren’t together a lot and I think that’s okay. I think you cherish the time with that person more when you’re not with them all the time. It just makes the time we could be together much more special,” Carolyn said.

“For us, it was simple. And I think that’s the key; keep it simple. Don’t try and do stuff that you can’t sustain, don’t try and be someone that you’re not. Just try to understand, respect and love the other person,” said Joe

Love isn’t always a fairytale, a large part of making it work is understanding that you’re not always right and you might not get your way.

“It’s never going to be equal all the time. Sometimes you give more than you want to and other times you get more than you could ever expect. And to me that is really great love,” Carolyn said.

“Be willing to sacrifice a little bit of yourself. You can’t always do what you want to do or even what you should do. But you both have to be willing to make sacrifices, and it’s never going to feel equal,” said Joe.

One of the most important things to remember is to be patient. Things won’t always be perfect – apologize if you do or say something hurtful.

“Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes you feel like you just want to quit. But then a few days pass, you work through what’s irritating you and you realize you have to shake that rock out of your shoe and keep at it because quitting isn’t an option. Not all days or weeks or even months are perfect but getting over the inevitable hurdles is gratifying and crucial for solidifying a relationship,” Carolyn said.

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