Today is my husband Doug and my 38 year wedding anniversary. After dating for several years, we married each other following our sophomore year in college. I cannot believe how fast time has flown. Our children, a son who is now 35 and a daughter who 28, are grown and have lives of their own. We have been grandparents for over nine years. Yes, life has moved on, but not our friendship or love for one another.
Thirty-five years ago–bringing our son home from the hospital.
I spent a lot of time with my Grandmother Esther growing up and she shared with me two wonderful pieces of relationship advice to consider when choosing a spouse. First, a person should never date anyone that you could not see yourself married to. You do not want to risk falling in love with a handsome entertaining jealous jerk. You would be just setting yourself up for future heartache. Her next words of wisdom were that you should marry someone who you like. Liking is different than lusting or “love”. She said, that you could always learn to become a good lover, but you cannot learn to like someone. Eventually, you have to get out of bed and have something to say to each other over a breakfast table.
I have always liked Doug. He has always liked me. If there ever was one person who I would pick to hang out with…it is him. We have fun together.
Our visit to Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois
Oh, our marriage has not been some perfect happily-ever-after story. We live in an imperfect world and stuff happens. Doug and I have experienced many challenges during the past 38 years such as joblessness; major medical bills due to being uninsured and having a baby by emergence c-section while jobless; the lost of three babies, me suffering through a major suicidal depression after one of the pregnancy losses; more major medical bills because our health insurance had no coverage for mental health services; my having thyroid cancer when we had very young children– I was only 30 years-old; and for over the past three years this latest health battle with a broken spine and the blood cancer Multiple Myeloma.
Together during my stem cell transplant for Multiple Myeloma. Doug was a great caregiver.
During all or any of these challenges it would have been so easy to grow a part instead of growing together. No matter how dark our world seemed at times, we have certainly lived up to our wedding day pledges made so long ago as we stood in front of a church filled with friends and relatives on a smoking hot and humid June day.
There is relationship strength in those traditional marriage vows. They remind you to turn towards each other and not away from each other during the hard times.
Marriage and weddings have changed so much in the past four decades since we exchanged vows and had our relationship bound before God for better or worse, in sickness and in health until death do us part. In the Christian faith marriage was intended to be blessing to both the man and woman and is filled with mutual respect, a commitment to monogamy, is absent of physical, mental or emotional abuse and has the security of permanency. Yes, marriage was meant to be permanent.
In the new testament in the book of Mark, Chapter 10, verses 2-9, Jesus personally explains that God intended marriage to be permanent: “And the Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is is lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Doug and I have been blessed to be together for the past 38 years and God willingly look forward to many more years together.
What is the secret of our long marriage? Well two things actually. First, Doug and I were friends long before we were lovers and great friendships last. And, Doug is a very patient man!