Genes and holy matrimony

Dennis Warden

From 1990 to 2003 scientists from around the world worked on and completed the Human Genome Project with the goal of determining the sequence of nucleotide based pairs that make up human DNA.

Using this data scientists have estimated that there are anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 genes.

There are now more than 2,000 genetic tests for human conditions. These tests enable patients to learn their genetic risks for disease and also help healthcare professionals to diagnose inherited diseases.

Basically there are four different types of genetic tests available:

Paternity tests, used to confirm who is the father of a baby, child, or adult.

Genealogy tests, used by genealogists to determine ancestral ethnicity and relationships.

Gene therapy DNA testing, most commonly used for parents before they try to conceive or for fetuses to check for inheritable genetic conditions or if an embryo is carrying any birth defects.

Forensic DNA tests, used by police at crime scenes in order to identify victims or find criminals after certain crimes.

Genealogy tests are advertised heavily. Today you can order a genetic testing kit for around $99 that will reveal your ancestry. 

You may remember Senator Elizabeth Warren was recently in the news providing President Trump with evidence of her Native American ancestry — most likely from one of these kits. Without this information it would have been much harder for her to provide evidence of her connection to Native Americans. 

I wonder if there is a gene for long term relationships, specifically marriage. I just started thinking about this, but if there is such a gene I think I inherited it from my parents.

I can just remember attending my great-grandparents Tony and Sara Mertle’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was held in 1963. They were my maternal grandmother’s parents. A few years later in 1969 my maternal grandfather’s parents, Fred and Anna Koepke also celebrated their 50th.

This was Fred’s second wife. My actual great -grandmother passed away during the 1918 influenza pandemic that took so many lives.

At that time I was but a young lad and thought this was normal for those who were married, as long as they lived long enough, everyone must celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

My theory was once again proven correct when my father’s parents Ralph and Thelma Warden celebrated their “Golden Anniversary” in 1977.

My mother’s parents, Edgar and Alice Koepke, celebrated their 50th in 1982 and — holy moly matrimony — their 60th in 1992. Not many reach this mark. It’s an event so precious, 60 years is known as the “Diamond Anniversary.” 

Ralph and Thelma missed their 60th by just 17 days when grandpa passed away.

As I grew up I discovered some flaws in my theory. 

Searching the web I found these interesting statistics on the subject of marriage. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, only about 6 percent of married couples ever achieve their 50th anniversary.

Fifty-five percent of all married couples have been married for at least 15 years, according to the census report, while 35 percent have celebrated their 25th anniversaries and a special 6 percent have made it more than 50 years and beaten the odds of death and divorce.

Tomorrow my parents will reach the milestone of their 60th wedding anniversary. It seems like just yesterday when we held a celebration for their 40th.

To further demonstrate the Warden/Koepke clan is loyal and faithful consider these interesting facts.

My father and mother were high school sweethearts. Connie and I only dated two others before we were married. Our oldest, Jacob, only dated one other girl before his marriage to his wife Jess in 2015. Ethan and Hillary, also married in 2015, started dating in high school, never dating anyone else. Our daughter, still single, has been dating her significant other, Alex, (the only person she has dated) for the last four years.

Further along the family tree my sister Denise and her husband Charles Stanley just celebrated their 25th anniversary and Connie and I have been hitched for 32 years.

I have no doubt, God willing, that Connie and I will also reach the 50-year mark for our marriage. Of course it takes a little more than good genes — like help from one’s spouse. 

Maybe Connie has a gene that enables her to put up with me.