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Marriages for the ages

Sun Advocate publisher

For many wedding rings are the bond that binds a couple together, but the actuality of marriage is that the real bonds of happiness are seldom material.

For some people when they get up in the morning it's a beautiful day.

For others it is hell.

And a lot of it has to do with who they wake up to.

A good marriage, with stability, love, understanding and forgiveness, is a delight to behold.

One that is filled with animosity, distrust and rancor makes life miserable.

The Urbaniks as a young couple.

The questions are timeless. What makes a marriage a good marriage? What makes people want to be together for dozens of years? Why do some seemingly hard marriages last, while others that seem to have little strife in them fall apart quickly?

Carbon County has many people who could tell everyone the key to their happiness, but as with most human experience, what has worked for one couple, may not work for another.

However, the story of longevity of one marriage may give some clues to how people can succeed at one of human kinds oldest institutions.

Last month George and Lillian Urbanik celebrated 65 years together, one of the longest term marriages in existence in the county.

At 85 and 83 years old, they still may have many years left, but what has built their marriage is in the past and a look at their life might give some clues as to what it takes to get a marriage to last a life time.

Lillian is a native of Carbon County. As a matter of fact, she was actually born in Price City Hall.

George came to Price as a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) boy in 1939.

Carbon long term marriages
Bunnie & Dean Bradley
Oct. 15, 1959
Richard & Arline Powell
June 20, 1958
Frances & LaMar Hussey
May 26, 1952
Keith & LaRene Ockey
June 17, 1954

They were both children whose fathers died young, during the depression, leaving their mothers widows with large families to care for at one of the most difficult times in the 20th Century.

The young couple met and married. They returned to his home town of Gary, Ind. right after their marriage, where George gained employment at one of the US Steel mills. They remained in Indiana through-out World War II. Their first two children, Frances and George were born there.

Because of health problems, George was not eligible for the draft.

After the war, in 1946, they returned to Utah because they felt it was a better environment in which to raise children. They moved to Dragerton (now East Carbon) where three more children (Joe, Teresa and John) were born to them.

George was employed at the Horse Canyon mine for 35 years, from 1946 until 1981, when the mine closed permanently. He worked for US Steel for a total of forty years.

George and Lillian were active in community activities for many years. George helped organize the Horse Canyon Employees Credit Union at a time when the mines worked sporadically due to lack of demand for coal and also when unions were trying to protect the rights of miners in their efforts for obtaining medical benefits, job security, and the right to cash pay instead of script that was only good at company stores which sold goods at inflated prices.

George also helped organize little league baseball for the boys in town. He created and held the position of players agent because he saw that some boys never were given the opportunity to play due to the lack of skill, or because their fathers were not the coaches. He devised a plan where all boys were given the chance to play a certain number of innings, a practice that is now universal in little league ball.

During this time Lillian was busy too, she was the a 4-H leader, at on time teaching three different groups. She even had a boys cooking club because she believed all children needed to learn self-sufficiency.

For many years she was the Primary President in her local Latter Day Saint Ward, and also sold Avon products for years.

After having five children of their own, the Urbaniks adopted three additional children, George III, Christina and Andrew in 1971 at a time when most people their age began to look forward to an empty house and retirement.

In 1981, when Lillian's step-father died they also brought her mother into their home until her death in 1990.

George and Lillian still have seven children. George III died in 1988 in an Automobile accident. They have had 22 grand children, one of whom is deceased, and 12 great-grand children.

The Urbaniks have had a healthy history of raising children, working and being active in the community.

One could say in some ways they had a typical life, but what in their marriage, other than living into their 80's, has made it last so long? What makes a marriage last like this; what kinds of trials must they have faced over the years and how did they solve them?

Professionals in the field of marriage say there are some basic concepts that will help a marriage to last. For anyone contemplating marriage, here are six particular areas that they should think about before tying the knot.

First there is commitment. What that means is hard to tell when one is young, but it means finding someone you can't only live a life with, but someone whom you can't live without. It takes that kind of bond to get through the tough times. Love can be a foundation, but it takes more than that to keep it all together.

Carbon long term marriages
Sue & Leon Pilling
Aug. 13, 1951
Chester & LaDonna Hall
July 21, 1951
Lamar & Mabel Jones
March 1945

Second, never marry someone that has habits of characteristics you don't like. It's the old story about changing someone after you marry them. It seldom works. What you see is what you will probably get, and then some. Most peoples habits and characteristics were bred into them when they were children and those aspects of a person run deep.

If there is a characteristic that is difficult, it should be addressed before marriage, and not after. If this is done, and no resolution is found then marriage to this person should be strongly reconsidered.

That is not to say that everyone doesn't have flaws; but some are easier to live with than others.

Third, young marriages are often unsuccessful marriages. Teens who marry have a much higher marriage failure rate than those who wait at least into their 20's. Some teen marriages last many years; a few are happy, many are not. It's a lot like picking out a car. You would buy a different car when you are 30 than you would have when you were 16.

Fourth comes belief systems. It may be hard for a liberal to be married to a conservative, but it is even harder when it comes to religion. If someone is a devout Christian, for instance, it can be very difficult to be married to someone who has no belief in religion at all. Again, it's much like changing some ones habits. A few convert, but many don't and that can be frustrating for both people. One may want to be in church on Sunday while the other would rather be watching football on television or out fishing. Both can do their own thing, but it's hard to be one when some of the most pleasant experiences for one person is unpleasant for the other.

Fifth. Some people jump into marriage like they decide to buy a television set. They see something they like in the store, so they buy it. It's called impulse; and with impulse comes buyers regrets. Surprise in a marriage is seldom pleasant, particularly when unknowns are revealed once the wrapping paper of a new relationship comes off.

Finally, and probably most importantly, is that marriage is hard work. People change throughout the years, and the person one loves when they marry them often is a very different person 10, 20 or 30 years down the line. Stability, during all those years, requires a very strong will to make things work. People make mistakes; they do things that are not intended to hurt the other, but do. They say things that can be hurtful.

But that doesn't mean that it is over, or that it is on the downhill side and one should consider leaving it. For those who have outlasted the norm, calling it quits has never been an option.

But this kind of thinking must take place from the beginning. It's easy to say "I do" at the beginning of a marriage.

And that is the kind of commitment that must be renewed daily for a marriage to work for the ages.

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