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Fun on Friday: The Golden Anniversary Marriage Bribe

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Have you ever wondered where the idea of celebrating 50 years of marriage as a “golden anniversary” came from?

A lot of wives out there might think of it as a reward for putting up with their husbands for that long.

The funny thing is, there’s a lot of truth in that idea Basically, from what I gather from this marriage history expert, it seems to have evolved as a bribe to keep people married.

We can trace back the tradition of gift-giving on wedding anniversaries to medieval Germany and even ancient Rome, but it doesn’t seem to have been as formalized then as it is today. We first see the more modern idea of silver and golden anniversaries in the 1800s. Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, and author of Marriage, a History, said this actually makes sense because it corresponds with the time-period that people began marrying for love rather than financial reasons or family arrangements.

[This idea] originated in the late 19th century, during the Victorian era — it makes total sense. This was a period when it became an exchange of gifts or gifts from other people, because this was the period when the love match was triumphing. When the love match was first invented it was very destabilizing and traditional conservatives were horrified by the idea… What in the world will we do to get people married and keep them married if love is the main reason? And so there began to be this emphasis on building a love and commitment.”

So, if I’m reading Coontz right here, the silver and golden anniversaries came about as kind of a bribe. If you can manage to put up with this hapless oaf or nagging woman for 25 years, you’ll get some valuable silver. Manage to hold out for 50 years, we’ll up the ante to gold!

In Germany, the husband and wife both celebrated anniversaries, but they emphasized gift-giving to the wife.

The German composer Richard Wagner noted that his wife Minna’s friends presented her with a silver-spangled wreath as a souvenir of their 25th anniversary in 1861, from which she sent him a few silver leaves.”

This emphasis on the wife kind of makes sense to me. Let’s all be honest fellas. Our wives deserve a little sparkle for putting up with us.

Coontz told Time that as the idea of the love marriage proliferated, but traditional gender roles remained, celebrants began to believe that the wife’s achievement in reaching the milestone was the one worth celebrating.

There’s still not the idea that [marriage] takes work from the husband, but there’s more recognition that it takes work from the wife.”

Not to say some men haven’t earned a few gold coins along the path to marital bliss.

As Joe was cutting the cake for his 50th anniversary, his wife Sue noticed his eyes were filling with tears. She took his arm, and looked at him affectionately.

“I never knew you were so sentimental,” she whispered.

“No . . . No . . .” Joe said, choking back tears, “That’s not it at all. Remember when your father found us in the barn and told me to either marry you or spend the next 50 years in jail?”

“Yes,” Sue relied. “I remember it like yesterday.”

“Well,” Joe said, “Today I would have been a free man.”

Later that evening, Sue was speaking to Joe again, wearing a beautiful 24-karat gold chain.

The idea of celebrating silver and golden anniversaries reflects the inherent value of precious metals. After all, if you’re going to try to bribe people to stay married, you have to go big or go home.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for a wedding anniversary to invest in gold, keep it, and enjoy the wealth it affords. Call 1-888-GOLD-160. Our precious metals specialists won’t give you any marriage advice (Well, they might, but you follow it at your own risk.), but they can help you find the best way to make precious metals a part of your investment portfolio.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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