Love is patient; love is kind. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing. Love never fails. --1 Corinthians 13: 4,7-8
When I was a young impressionable child, I remember going to a cousin’s 10 year wedding anniversary celebration and thinking, “Wow, 10 years. That’s a long time.” Since then I have had the honor of attending my parents’ 25th celebration, my parents’-in-law 40th celebration, numerous 50th celebrations for aunts and uncles, and even two 60th wedding anniversaries—both of which are now headed to 65 years of marriage.
Amazing in our world today that these couples could have made it that long. When ex’s are becoming the norm, and couples think “divorce” as soon as they have their first fight, what gave these couples the strength to hold on? I always wondered that myself.
Now, I’ve been married ten years, and the mystery is ironing itself out. When I look to my immediate family—my parents, brother, sister, husband, and the three sets of parents of our in-laws. Here is what I see:
My parents 39 years of marriage; me and my siblings 34 years of marriage between us; the three sets of parents of the in-laws married into our family an astounding 139 years of marriage. In case you’re not good at math, that’s a total of 212 years of continuous marriage in our family. Now, there’s a solid foundation for the grandkids to build on. Wouldn’t you agree?
How have these people amassed these amazing numbers? Maybe they were the lucky ones—you know, the ones who never had any problems. Let’s examine that:
One set suffered seven miscarriages; one the death of their youngest child at 12 years of age not to mention one spouse’s deterioration into Alzheimer’s disease; one set had two children diagnosed with cancer; one is now facing the cancer of one partner; one moved far away from family in order to get started in a business; one set had a child born three months early, spent two full months in the hospital, and brought that child home happy and healthy; and one has moved four times and had four kids in an eight year span.
No, “easy” doesn’t quite fit.
So, what is their secret then? Having lived around these people my whole life, I think there are many, but here are a few that I’ve been able to tease out:
Their relationships are founded on God’s love. They trust God’s guidance in their lives and in the lives of their family. They hold fast to the trust that they place in one another, and they respect the trust of the other person enough to behave so that they don’t abuse the trust of their spouse. Their priorities are: God, each other, their children, themselves, family, others. They believe in the hope of tomorrow even through the storms of today. And when they said: “until death do us part,” they meant exactly that.
The rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.
That was the gospel we chose to have read at our wedding, and the more I think about it, the truer those words become for me.
As an inspirational romance writer, these are the couples I have grown up around, the couples I have watched, the couples who have taught me how to be in a relationship and how to make not just a marriage work but how to make a relationship work. These are not people hanging on for the children’s sake. They are people who truly love each other as much or more now than they did when they got married.
No, every day is not wine and roses, but they never bought into either the myth that every day was supposed to be, nor the myth that once you’re married, wine and roses is a thing of the past. These are couples who cherish their relationship enough to work on it and to trust its power to endure on a daily basis. This is the kind of relationship I write about because in truth this is the kind of relationship that I know.
I wish everyone were so lucky, and yet I think of those couples now married more than 60 years. Every day of that 60 years they had a choice, and every day they chose to cleave together, to trust God, and to find a way to make it work. That’s a choice every single person now in a marriage has—if they have the courage to choose that option.