Richard and Beth Giard met on a blind date 50-some-odd years ago.
Today, on the cusp of their 49th anniversary they’ve shared laughs, challenges, children and all that cohabitation brings.
“It’s not easy and we have overcome a lot of hurdles,” Beth said. “[But] we’re still together.”
The Giards were wed in the summer of 1970 in the bride’s hometown, Wynantskill, N,Y.
“It was hotter than blazes,” Beth said, adding she wore a dress with long sleeves and a high neckline made by her mother. “It had 10,000 buttons,” Richard joked.
They had a traditional ceremony with a couple hundred family members and friends in attendance. While Richard was 24-years-old and Beth just 21, the duo wasn’t daunted by holy matrimony. It was more “go with the flow,” according to Richard. They were both ready to settle down.
The Giards’ early years together weren’t without challenge. They opened a Schwinn bicycle dealership, which proved to be a costly and demanding endeavor. “We learned how to budget because we only had a paycheck 10 months out of the year,” Beth said.
But the couple’s greatest challenge was raising their son who has a disability. Beth had to trade in a full-time job for flexible work so she’d have time to care for their child. When the couple had their daughter, five years later, they had to regain equilibrium.
“We had to remember sometimes we were going to be a family of four, sometimes we were going to be a family of three,” she said, adding physicians advised the couple to set aside one-on-one time with their daughter.
Life’s challenges brought the Giards closer together. The Lord watched over them, Beth said, adding all of the obstacles they overcame were part of their life.
While the Giards ran their bicycle shop they had no time for a vacation; after closing the business they decided to pack up and have a family road trip.
They borrowed a Winnebago and saw the East Coast stopping in D.C. and Disney on their way to Key West. Of course there were challenges; their son struggled with the lights and sounds of Disney, while their daughter wanted to explore the theme park. Beth and Richard managed to balance both kids’ wants and needs, creating memories to last a lifetime.
When their son grew a bit older he entered the Special Olympics. It was a bonding experience that saw Richard coaching and volunteering while Beth traveled alongside them. They made close friends as they lodged with other participants’ families for events like the Special Olympics at Notre Dame.
In 2001, the games brought them to Anchorage, Alaska where they not only watched their son compete, but also got to see the start of the Iditarod and dine in the same restaurant as Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“We got to see places that we probably wouldn’t have without our son,” Beth said. “He brought us lots of opportunities.”
Today, with their children grown up, Beth and Richard have more time to spend with each other and to explore hobbies they set aside while parenting. “We have a pretty good idea of what the two of us enjoy [together] and when we need time apart,” Beth said. She loves to quilt and has passed the skill on to her grandchildren. Richard goes out fishing whenever possible.
As for the most rewarding part of marriage, Richard was quick to say it’s living with your best friend.
Love, they said, is manifested in different ways. While Richard isn’t the most romantic person, he shows his affection in acts of service, Beth said. His “I love you” is a warm cup of coffee waiting for her, polished kitchen floors and trips to the grocery store. For Richard, it’s Beth’s outgoing nature and ability to bring new friends into their life.
The duo looks forward to celebrating 49 years together this summer. The key to long lasting love, they said, is empathy. It’s important to forgive and forget, Richard added.
“We’ve always accepted each other as not being perfect,” Beth said. “We accept each other for who we are.”