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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Married for forty years, she is from Austria and he from California, six children and four grandchildren. The secret of a married couple who resist the wear of time.

Maria and John have lived in Italy for many years. “Even though we know that we were made for each other, we asked ourselves,” they recount, when they offered their testimony at the anniversary of  Renata Borlone, “if we could also be witnesses of unity in our own family – me an American and Maria an Austrian – in immersed in an Italian society.”

They are very different from one another. They are from the old European world and the world of America. They do not speak German or English with each other, but Italian. They come from different cultures, different families and different origins, different professional and intellectual formation, and different ages (thirteen years difference). And then, John recounts, “I’m simply a man and she’s a woman, with characters, needs and sensibilities quite diverse.”

“One episode involving this diversity, which is emblematic, occured during the honeymoon in Sicily,” he conitinues. Everything beautiful and wonderful . . . we reached Selinunte and Maria enthusiastically exclaimed: “What beautiful temples, they tell of a wonderful past.” And me: “What are these old stones and broken columngs doing here? It would be better to knock them down and build a nice skyscraper.” Where did our common point lie? Certain of God’s plan of love for us, we intuited that it would be found neither in temples (history), nor in skyscrapers (young new lands), but in accepting each other.”

“And this acceptance was taught to us by Renata with her life. She had an artful talent for listening to people, always giving first place to the other, it was an absolute for her. I felt completely welcomed, understood and loved.” Maria was recounting, touching on a few difficult moments the went through in their marriage. “I didn’t understand my husband. His way of being and of thinking put me in crisis, but we already had four children. One night I couldn’t do it anymore and I ran to Renata. I cast my huge doubt onto her. I had made a mistake in marrying John! As always, Renata welcomed me, taking my suffering upon herself. Then, with unwavering certainty, she reminded me that when I married, I had been certain that John was the right person for me, beyond our differences. That night I gained a new strength. Yes, we’d manage to love one another until the end!”

“Still today, after forty years of living together,” John concludes, “we experience how true it is that when we accept each other’s differences in a positive way, as something that can enrich and complete us, then a new harmony is born between us.”