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RUTA MAVE: A promise to love and to hold until death do us part

Monday 9 January 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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RUTA MAVE: A promise to love and to hold until death do us part

With the statistics of marriage these days saying only 55 per cent remain married, the average length of time for a marriage is around 20 years.

Sixty-eight (68) years ago in 1955 my Uncle Tangi had just turned 21 and he was in the taro patch below the family home in Aroko harvesting the roots up and out so the women could peel and cut them ready for the umu for his wedding the following day. He had lots to do – plant another taro patch, feed pigs and chores. Tired and mucky he headed home to help with the digging of the umu pit. The pit had to be dug bigger for the many pigs being brought as gifts. He finally slept only to rise early and move 20 piglets away to live another day. An hour before the wedding Tangi grabs a cold shower under the hose outside and dresses in his best Sunday suit. His older brother Lucky Mave finished reading his scriptures and said “Are you ready?” Because Tangi was smaller and younger he was seen as the Best Man, until the beautiful 18-year-old Reuera (Ra) walked down the aisle to stand beside him and has remained there until this day.

On Sunday, I sat in the same church they married in, the same church they attended as children and continue to do so every time they visit from Australia. Here was I ruminating what could I honestly do consistently day in day out as my resolution I was resolutely going to keep for 2023, let alone promising for eternity. If gifting Blue Sapphire is for 65 years surely 68 years is a medal of honour for survival?

Read more: RUTA MAVE: Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never comes, today is a gift because it’s the present

Standing at the altar with newly wedding bliss in their eyes, couples promise to love and to hold until death do us part.  Death – gosh after the gloss has worn off it can seem on some days that death can’t come soon enough. The promise of eternity can sometimes feel like a weight especially when they say the first 40 years of marriage are the hardest! With the statistics of marriage these days saying only 55 per cent remain married, the average length of time for a marriage is around 20 years. To last 68 years I figured there has to be a scientific formula we could apply.

The initial attraction is chemistry, the union brings biology and children, navigating the family dynamics takes physics on working out the loads one can carry and the angles and leverage required to move the mass and create momentum. Mathematics is the numbers game of juggling the weekly wage to provide but will the stress mean be another statistic? Environmental science can give the world as your oyster to make it happen. Genetics comes into play with health immunity and longevity. Is love a science?

They look good together, they laugh, they travel and they keep themselves interested and busy. Uncle and Aunty have chosen the way of the older folk and continue to dye their hair black so they look younger than their 89 and 86 years. Maybe this way they keep seeing their younger selves in each other and it reminds and reinstalls that love chemistry of the beginning. Or maybe the art of tradition and the loyalty to vows without building an exit clause holds and binds them. Or maybe the love is strong.

When we set our goals or resolutions for this coming year, we look at how we are going to become this new person – smaller, fitter, healthier and more successful person. Then we wonder if we can last the 12-week boot camp programme let alone 12 months. Come to think of it the next 12 hours on celery juice and intermittent fasting – doesn’t work for me. These fancy modern names – intermittent fasting – what is that? In my good old bad old day, it was called Bulimia. Eat nothing, gorge, purge repeat, like the Roman’s.

It was also Elvis’ birthday he would have been 88 years old. It seems a lifetime ago that he died yet he would be similar age to uncle who with his dyed hair looks like Elvis. With the new movie biopic released it is as if Elvis has not left the building. We continue to see him as his younger self and his later white suit Vegas self. How would he be now if he was alive? What if he took the same lifestyle habits Uncle Tangi has done? He would be playing golf, travelling the world, living every day. No doubt he would still be singing. On Friday night we had dinner out to celebrate the wedding anniversary. I was nodding off at the table, but Uncle joined his nephews at the Fishing Club to sing along and so Elvis lives on in others.