A Few Brief Thoughts on a Long Marriage

July is mid-year, a month that begins with a bold red, white, and blue attitude that never wanes the month long.  Bam! it seems to say, I’m finally here and aren’t you glad!   

I am glad.

Sam and I were married 37 years ago this month and my mind drifts back to that hot Missouri afternoon when a booming, midsummer thunderstorm nearly drowned out our vows. We were young, so very young, but optimistic and thrilled with life and with each other.

That we were from different cultures, had little money, and that my parents were, shall we say, apprehensive, were facts not allowed to get in the way of matrimony. We would marry. We would return to West Germany (where we met).  We would work, and lead a small German church.

Then . . . well, we didn’t know. But love would surely see us through.

Wouldn’t it?

Fact is, if you had polled the folks who knew us during that period, it is likely that few would have given our marriage much of a chance. Okay. I have to admit that the odds were very much not in our favor.

We did have one thing in our favor. Although our respective childhoods were poles apart – he was raised in a small village in northeastern Yugoslavia, I hailed from a middle class home in northern California – our religious upbringings were remarkably similar. Very solid. Very strict. A no-holds-barred approach to righteous living as proscribed by our church “organizations.”

We were industrious, a little naive, too unquestioning about a lot of things.

Yet, in thinking back over the years of our married life – some of them hard years – we seem to have simply applied that tried-and-true amalgam of love, hard work, and God.

Ironically, most of our married life has been devoted to pastoral ministry.

Having been raised in a pastor’s home, I remember distinctly telling myself numerous times as a young girl, “I will never marry a pastor. Never.” Well, as the old saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

But Sam has loved his calling. I love him. We made it work.

We have raised a family in the intervening years here in our beloved Sonoma County. And we’ve seen a good bit of the world. Our families are scattered around Europe, Australia, and across the U.S.

Not able to do near enough visiting over the river and through the woods.

So our little family tightened its bonds. And our children, now adults, have made us proud. I had never really thought about how interesting grown kids are until I had them. I highly recommend it. Sam and I, with our ultra-conservative growing up, have stood at times in – oh, what is it? – shock? astonishment? – at the way our kids navigate the culture.

They love God. They love us. They love each other. They love the church.

Ah. New season.

Any parent who can say that has a lot to be thankful for.

During the celebration of my paternal grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary many years ago, someone asked my grandma for the secret of their long marriage. “Well,” she said slowly, her eyes huge behind her thick spectacles, “you make up your mind and stick to it.”

Somehow, Sam and I have done that.

Bam! Aren’t you glad?

I am.

What, in your opinion – or experience, are secrets to a long marriage?

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Erin Smith on July 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Leave the unrealistic expectations at the door… Grace upon grace… forgiveness, give the benefit of doubt, carry your cross/ die to self… pray, pray, pray… Ask God for His direction and LISTEN to what HE says!!!.. Those are the secrets I have been using… so far, so good… 13 years:)

    Reply

  2. I’ve only been married 8.5 years, but one thing I have learned is where to be flexible and where not to be. We are flexible with each other and in our circumstances, but we are not flexible in our boundaries or priorities. Thanks for your insight!

    Reply

  3. Lock up the knife drawer!

    Reply

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