On Friday, June 30th, two events occurred that the media deemed newsworthy (one arguably more so than the other). A major water main break at New Jersey American Water Company's treatment plant at Swimming River Reservoir in Middletown Township affected thousands of residents in two dozen Monmouth County municipalities...and (gasp!) Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced their decision to divorce.
While Monmouth County residents faced water usage restrictions and a boil water advisory, shocked “Tomcat” fans speculated about the possible reason for the Cruise/Holmes split. Since Hollywood couldn't care less about the free water distribution at Middletown High School North (which operated smoothly and efficiently, but I digress), Entertainment Tonight produced an evening special, a sentimental recap of the wedding and happier times of the divorcing Hollywood “power couple”.
The Urban Dictionary defines “power couple” as follows: 1) a “power couple” is a “a couple who seems to have a fairy tale romance. Also, both parties involved in the power couple have tremendous influence over people around them because of their devastating good looks and seemingly perfect relationship with their significant other”. One could argue that “devastating good looks” are subjective, but The Urban Dictionary's meaning is clear. A power couple embodies superficiality and materialism...so why should we care when such a couple, like “Tomcat”, break up?
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are not a power couple. Nor are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie or Kim Kardashian and whoever she chooses to wed next. Being a so-called power couple has very little to do with wearing the latest fashions, posing for photographs, or expecting massive media coverage for the birth of one's children. It's more about mutual respect, shared goals and spirituality, and a certain “stick-to-it-ness” that defies definition.
At 84 years together, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of North Carolina currently hold the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage. Born in 1905 and 1907 respectively, the pair married in 1924. Imagine all they witnessed in the world, all that transpired in their lives together! Now that's a power couple.
Like all married couples, the Fishers shared good and bad times, as did my parents. My father was close by my mother's side while she battled a devastating illness; at the time of her passing, Dad and Mom were married 38.5 years. That's a power couple.
Similarly, my dearest friend, Lynn, and her husband, Alan, bravely faced Alan's cancer. Alan wanted to spend his final days at home; Lynn's love and selflessness made that possible. That's a power couple.
Without the financial benefits of a “Tomcat” couple, my Scottish immigrant grandparents stuck together during thick and thin and raised four children. My sister and her husband, together for decades, raised three wonderful children (who are now wonderful adults) in a happy home. American history is filled with married couples who braved life's storms together: John and Abigail Adams, Abraham and Mary Lincoln, George and Martha Washington, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower. These are power couples!
The “power” in “power couple”, then, is not derived from flashy notoriety; rather, it builds from a slower, far less showy, “slow and steady wins the race” attitude, a “stick-to-it-ness” that comes only from shared commitment and faith.