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50 Years of Marriage: Life and Parenting Tips for You

Looking for insightful advice on marriage, life, or parenting? My parents, Connie and Stephen Ryan, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this June (2024). I was honored to give a short speech and toast at their celebration, and I’d like to share my reflections with you.

Why should you read this speech? It offers valuable lessons from a healthy and happy 50-year marriage, along with life and parenting advice. I hope you find wisdom and inspiration in these words.

Mom & Dad Toast 

For those of you who don’t know, I am Stephanie Mitton,the youngest daughter of Stephen and Connie.

If you have been wondering how they are aging, perhaps giving me the microphone suggests that their judgment is in question? 

Mom, you did say I could be funny.

But in all honesty I am honoured to speak today and bring words on behalf of my sister Amanada and me and our families. 

I am going to provide a few words about their lives together, and the advice and lessons learned, and then we will toast the couple, so please ensure you have a drink in hand. 

As you may know, the early beginnings of their relationship started in this very Church, Calvary Bible Church many many many moons ago. 

Aunt Jean, the maid of honour reminded me that, during their dating life, mom’s mother Margaret Bratrud would ask who mom was going out with, she would always say, Stephen and Chucky. 

One day Grandma Bratrud met Chucky, and just about died. 

She knew the Ryan's had a big family and assumed Chucky was a brother, so she was very surprised to learn that Chucky was a dog. And that in fact Connie had not been chaperoned as she expected. 

Many of you were here when they got married 5 years later. 

Within the following years they of course had my sister and me. Amanda was a blessing, and I was a welcomed addition and pain in the neck. None of that has changed. 

As parents, they have been the best parents we could have. 

We were cared for, maybe a little spoiled at times, sometimes with things but most importantly with love and time. 

Our parents were fair, you could always make your case (but didn't always get your way). An attribute that has carried through to my career as a skilled lobbyist. 

They told us we could do and be anything we wanted to be, then made sacrifices and supported us doing that.

I remember my mom joking that when Amanda was in college she was eating shrimp, while they were eating hotdogs. But then quickly clarified, Amanda was very good with a budget and that the shrimp would have been on sale. Amanda would go on to complete 3 higher education degrees. 

I also appreciate that as a man with only daughters, our dad (and mom) raised us with such limitless possibilities, and dreams for great things. They taught us how to get our hands dirty and pile wood, and do electrical work, but they also pushed our intellectual and professional pursuits. 

I remember one time when mom and dad picked me up at an event at the Prime Minister’s house. They were outside of the gate, and I was on the inside. They were not allowed to enter a space where I stood, and yet I could only be there because of them. 

They would drop anything, to be at a special event such as a graduation, a birth, or when someone was overwhelmed and just needed help. 

As adults and parents Amanda and I can see the imprints our parents have made on our lives, the lessons and the love that they provided to us. And today, the two of them remain our greatest cheerleaders, our biggest warriors, and our best friends. 

They are loving grandparents to Tyreese, Rachelle, Seth and Renee. From building many boats, to many hours on a tube, to crafting projects, there are countless hours of lessons, skills, gifts of time, and investment into their lives. 

As this event approached, I have been reflecting a lot on their 50 years of marriage. And these days there is no doubt that this is unusual and very difficult to achieve. 

These last few years as I watch them together, I am struck by their relationship, how endearing they are together, and how they support each other through the difficult and happy times. And just how happy they seem living through life together. 

This past September they went to Nova Scotia on a trip. And they went to a family reunion for mom and also traveled all over Nova Scotia, likely many places mom really wanted to go so dad took her, and they did it together. I was talking to my dad on the phone in the car during this trip, while my mom was inside a store shopping. A regular occurrence. I asked if he was having fun, expected he might be annoyed waiting for mom, and he said he was having a great time, he genuinely seemed like he was very happy even though he was just waiting for her. It is in these moments I can see how they have made it to 50 years of marriage. 

I asked my parents to share with us today what is their best advice for a long, happy and healthy marriage and it can be summed up in these words. 

  • A foundation in faith 

  • Teamwork 

  • And of course dad had to add one of his famous lines, a  happy wife is a happy life (not a surprise) 

Amanda and I have also reflected on what their relationship has taught us, and we agree with what they shared and would add: 

  • Friendship is the foundation to a healthy relationship 

  • The importance and prioritization of family. 

  • Work hard play hard (another one of their great lines) 

  • Investment in people is the best thing you can do with your life

  • and how to love on and support your partner well though challenging times, from the loss of loved ones, to difficult medical appointments and health challenges. 

  • Sharing the responsibilities of life and parenting supports a happy marriage. 

  • I am sure there are many more. 

I know that they have touched many of you throughout their lives, great friends, traveling partners, shared laughter and tears. And we are so pleased you are here today, many traveling far to help us celebrate mom and dad and their life together. 

So let’s lift a glass in celebration of Stephen and Connie! 


Happy 50th anniversary! 

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