November 10, 2019
November the 8, 2019, was mine and Sandra’s 54th wedding anniversary. We went to a nice restaurant and had a very good meal together. That may not sound too special to many people, but anytime you can have quality time with your soulmate, the love of your life, yes, it is very special. I told Sandra I wish we could have another 54 years together. She said, “Me too.”
People have often asked Sandra and me how we were able to stay married for so many years. The answer is not complicated for us or anyone else who has been married for a long time. But I will touch on a few high points of OUR marriage longevity.
First, you must really love your spouse, recognize they are not perfect, and be willing to forgive them if they don’t do everything just right as you would like. (The Bible teaches not to let the sun go down on your wrath.)
Second, and this is the main reason for longevity in marriage, recognize that marriage is a God-ordained Holy institution.
Ephesians 5:31, 33 says: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh………..let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife, see that she reverence her husband.”
That verse is not too hard to understand, is it? Absolutely not!
Sandra and I will never forget the day we got married. We were just kids, and we eloped. I had altered my birth certificate to get in the Navy at 16 years old. Then I altered Sandra’s driver’s license so we could get a marriage license. The legal age In Arkansas was 18 unless signed by a parent. So, we went to the county courthouse with our altered documents, and got our marriage license.
Then we went across the street where there was a county justice of the peace. He ran a feed store that had his living quarters upstairs. I asked him if he would perform a wedding ceremony for us. He said he would, and we went upstairs to his living room. Then he told us he wanted to ask us something that he had never asked a couple before. He said it was really none of his business, but that we looked so young he wanted to point out something to us about his ceremony. He asked, “Are you Christians?” We replied that we were.
Then he said, “Well, I just want to remind you that these vows I’m going to ask you to make to each other are also being made to God. I don’t want to hear about you all getting a divorce later on, because these vows are until death you do part. Do you two understand that?” We told him we understood. Then he performed a quick ceremony.
I wouldn’t try to mislead anyone; our years together have not been without some ups and downs – some pretty rough. That’s true in most all marriages.
Sometimes I felt like what Rev. Billy Graham joked about when he said he had never once considered divorce in his marriage: murder maybe, but never divorce! No, I never once ever considered divorce when we had a problem. I know sometimes divorce is the best solution in some bad marriages. There are even biblical grounds for divorce. But I think divorce is too common and too easy. With God’s help, most problems could be worked out.
Many years ago I had an elderly couple in my church. They had been married 69 years. Well, the wife died while I was their pastor. I was visiting in the home before the funeral and the four grown sons were there at the home of the deceased. Her husband said to me, “We were married 69 years and never had a cross word.” The four sons began to laugh. One of them said, “Daddy, you two used to fuss and fight like cats and dogs.” The husband said, “Well, if we did, it never amounted to anything.”
The secret to their long marriage? Love, forgiveness, and putting God first.
God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Sandra and I were blessed with three wonderful children and five grandchildren. The family is God’s most prized creation and the oldest ordained institution, even older than the church.
So, if you’re married or contemplating marriage someday, remember this: “Always put God first and everything else will work out.”
God Bless You,
November 10, 2019