My husband and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary on June 4th. Yeah, we got married in 1983. The same year my friend Christel was born. She reminded me with a sly giggle that I've been married longer than she's been alive.
Okay, okay, I'm old enough to be her mom - and many of the rest of you who are reading this. Including the young woman at my chiropractor's office who asked, "What's the secret to staying married that long?"
Here's what I told her.
1. COMPROMISE. Find ways to turn a conflict into a compromise. For example, I was raised Southern Baptist and my husband was raised Roman Catholic. Opposites attract, but at least we were both Christian. We found a conservative Lutheran church that we agreed with doctrinally and where we were both comfortable. Not his and not mine, this church was a win/win.
2. DEDICATION. We were both dedicated to our vows, our marriage, and one another - no conditions, no pre-nup. (Not that either of us had more than five bucks to our name at age 21.) I know you're doing the math and I don't mind. I'll even help. Age 21 plus 34 years of marriage = 55 years. Yep, I'm getting age spots (!) and need a chiropractor. It's clear that wrinkles and gray hair are in my future.
But way back in the beginning, during that emotional and tempestuous first year of marriage, the arguments were loud and the ultimatums flew. But even with the threat of walking out the door, the "D" word never touched our lips - unless we were discussing someone else - because divorce was never an option.
3. PRAYER. The Bible tells us, "A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT When husband and wife entwine God's love and grace into their marriage by praying for one another and praying for the relationship - while doing their best to follow God's plan of faithfulness, love, and mutual respect - the marriage will not only survive, but thrive.
These many years later, our marriage has mellowed to be comfortable and stable, a shelter from the storms of life. This year, both of our children are engaged to be married. May their marriages - and yours! - be as lasting as ours has been. And hopefully those first years will be less tempestuous!
tem·pes·tu·ous: characterized by strong and turbulent or conflicting emotion. Synonyms: turbulent, stormy, tumultuous, wild, lively, heated, explosive, feverish, frenetic, frenzied
"I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm." Psalm 55:8