To sit at a keyboard and try to sum up 40 years of marriage is impossible. The usual platitudes of real love and soul mate don’t do anything to aid understanding on the reader’s part – too many movies under the bridge? As you wish . . .
I also recognize that many would see this as bragging about ‘accomplishing’ 40 years of marriage, and using this blog to do so! I do not brag about it, I am celebrating the privilege of being part of something so amazing, so divine, that I cannot take it for granted and must make a declaration of wonder at it all. 40 years!
While others have made it farther – I have personally known couples that have made it over 70 years of marriage – this is the first time I’ve ever been married 40 years! And it’s the first time I’ve been old, and the first time I’ve had empty nest. You just don’t get to practice before hand, you know what I mean?
I must give all glory to God for this, for I did not do this on my own, nor did Dane. I told my sons over the years, “Marriage is hard work! But the rewards are so worth it!” Anyone can walk away from difficulties. Anyone can quit when it hurts. Anyone can run from the truth, but you can’t get away! Marriage reveals very ugly things about ones self that nobody likes to see. But when you acknowledge these things and agree to work on changing them, with the Lord’s help, love grows and matures into something very beautiful and deep rooted and unique to each couple.
And when I say ‘agree to work on changing them’, I do not mean one spouse pointing out faults of the other and trying to get them to change, because it doesn’t work that way! I have found that the need to change can’t be imposed on someone else, so you might as well ask the Lord to change YOU! I can control my reactions, my moods, my attitude. I cannot control someone elses.
Way back when, I had an image of my ideal mate – which I think most girls do. Tall dark and handsome comes to mind. I believe that would have been on my list. I’m tall and fair, and the thought of having someone taller and able to make me feel small and delicate (HA!) would have been a fantasy. But I found out quickly that picking guys for their looks and height didn’t prove to fulfill the other qualities that should be there. Humility, kindness, patience, selflessness.
My husband married a brat. Though we have known each other all our lives from kindergarten on, he had no idea of what he was in for. I did not like to hear the word ‘no’, and was so head strong that I would mow over anyone in my way.
But events had happened in my life that had knocked me sideways, and I had been broken in spirit. I had come to see that life didn’t revolve around me, and that other people should be more important. I thought about all the people in my past who had ‘put up’ with me and saw past the brat and into my heart, and I realized they all had something in common that allowed them to love me – they had been lifted from the lives they once lived by the Lord, Jesus Christ! They had a great peace that I was missing, and a JOY that was unquenchable! I recognized that I needed to stop running and stop ruining my life, and let the Lord make decisions for me, which would also mean that He may tell me ‘no’ and that I would have to accept it. Hard thing for me . . .
I moved to Virginia in June of ’72. My first job was working the fuel counter at the now closed truckstop by the interstate. It was Exit 44 back then. Night shift. Oye vey, I could tell you stories! Eventually, I landed a job with a interconnect telephone company which had me traveling the Eastern United States and Texas, in a company car, with company credit cards.
One weekend, I found myself in Michigan and decided to zip over to Minnesota for the weekend. I called up my old friend, Dane, and we went with friends to a picnic by the riverside. The mosquitoes put out an APB that there was fresh blood in town and ate me alive, biting through my slacks and everything! I don’t miss mosquitoes, affectionately called “The Minnesota state bird”. Why, God? Why mosquitoes??
Anyway, Dane and I talked for hours and I wound up inviting him to come down to Virginia and see me sometime. Two weeks later he was at my door and managed to land a construction job at the Cement plant where my dad worked. I remember thinking, what have I done?
I was still traveling, getting home most weekends and would swing by Dane’s apartment that he shared with his buddy, Wayne, that had moved down here with him. I could see that he was, shall we say, very fond of me? But the feelings were not mutual on my part. He was a great friend, but he did not match that magical ‘list’ I had in my head. But! (And there’s always a big but where I’m involved!) Remember that part about letting the Lord make decisions for me? I told Him to let me know if this was His plan for me, His man for me, and that I would follow where He lead me. After all, I had to admit, that I hadn’t been doing too well on the decision making so far as far as men goes.
Little did I know what a perfect fit this guy was for me. Often struggling with depression, I found Dane was as upbeat and optimistic as they come! He cheered me on and turned on the lights in my heart! They have burned for 40 years! Oh, sure, we’ve had to change the bulbs a few times here and there, but – he’s an electrician! (You can thank me later for not venturing into all the ‘plumber’ jokes at this point . . .)
Turning point in our marriage: The second year of our marriage, Dane was working out of town 4 days a week, and I called him one evening at the home of the family he boarded with to tell him that I had just found out we were pregnant. (No insurance, birth control had failed). I was afraid that he would say, “Oh no! We don’t have any insurance! How are we going to pay for this?” But the first words out of his mouth were, “Praise the Lord!” as he turned to the family he was staying with and exclaimed, “I’m going to be a dad!” That year, our tax return was enough to pay the bill within 35 cents. God was faithful to us, as He has been all along during this adventure called marriage. Three sons and so many laughs later, Dane is “Still the One.” Which is ‘our song’ by the group Orleans:
We’ve been together since way back when
sometimes I never want to see you again
but I want you to know – after all these years
you’re still the one I want whispering in my ear
You’re still the one I want to talk to in bed
Still the one who turns my head
We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one!
We were dining at a local restaurant a few years ago when our waitress excitedly told us of her up-coming marriage. We wished her a marriage as happy as ours had been for 35 years, to which she replied, “You two look in love! ” Which was just about the nicest thing anyone could have said to us. When we are together, we are delighted in each other’s company.
Again, I give all glory to God for this marriage. He provided the wisdom and guidance for 2 people who worked hard to get along. Two people who decided that divorce was not an option, and that we’d have to give 100% – not 50/50, to make things work.
We’re in it for the long haul, and enjoying every moment. May your marriage be as fun as ours has been and your love as strong, and may God bless you as you strive to honor Him in all you do.