As their eldest child, I have had a "ringside seat" to their marriage for 44 years. While people may try to put on airs and fool other people, you simply cannot fake a good marriage within the walls of your own home. Kids know, sense, and absorb too much on a daily basis. They sniff out insincerity and hypocrisy with ease.
Accordingly, when we asked Mom and Dad to share their secrets for a long and happy marriage at their anniversary party, my brother Kevin and I knew they were dispensing the unvarnished truth:
- Choose someone who shares your values and faith.
- Marry someone who will love you when your hair turns gray and you get pudgy in the middle. (Amen!)
- Honor your marriage covenant.
- Pray together often.
- Laugh a LOT!
Mom and Dad entered into a marriage covenant on November 17, 1962, but their shared values and faith is the glue that has held them together all these years. The Beetles sang "All You Need Is Love." However, recognizing that "marriage is the union of two dreadful sinners"(as one pastor has said), Mom and Dad understood it was crucial to build their union on a faithful foundation. God and his Word were present at their wedding ceremony and have been at the center of their marriage since Day 1.
My parents were attractive young people when they married, but as years went by, hair fell out (Dad) and went gray (Mom and Dad). Their weight has inched upward since their wedding day. There are wrinkles and age spots and health issues that go hand-in-hand with growing older. But my Dad still looks at my Mom like she is the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, and I still observe them hugging affectionately and stealing kisses.
No matter what curve-ball life threw at them, Mom and Dad were determined to stay married and never let divorce enter their realm of thinking. They have been devoted to each other for better or worse--and their has definitely been some of both over the past 50 years. I definitely remember times when it would have been easy for one or both of them to throw in the towel, because life is HARD and even the best spouses DISAPPOINT. They had the integrity to persevere, and I am so happy that they did.
Mom and Dad prayed faithfully--both individually and together. As a child in our small house with thin walls, I would often fall asleep to the murmuring voices of my parents in their bedroom at night. Though I could not make out the words, I knew they were praying. This is one of my most cherished childhood memories. When times were happy, Mom and Dad praised God. When challenges, difficulties, and heartache entered their lives, they laid them at Jesus' feet and trusted in His Sovereignty. Mom and Dad truly "prayed without ceasing."
My parents both have a great sense of humor. Dad thinks his jokes are really funny, and my Mom does her best to laugh whether she sees the point in them or not. They frequently tease and needle each other in order to have fun and relieve tension. Their example has taught me I don't need to take everything so seriously. Having fun together and even being silly are good for a marriage.
Mom and Dad--thank you for the gift of a home where both parents are committed forever and genuinely love AND like each other. I attribute much of the success I have had in my own marriage to the example I saw in yours. Jeff and I hope to be celebrating our own 50th wedding anniversary on April 24, 2043 with you two looking down from heaven, cheering us on. I love you both so very much!
"Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned."
Song of Songs 8:7