Natural Born Heroes. After we both worked a full day, we went out for supper last night at the Phoenix. We'd never been there, but had heard good things about it. It was nice. They had good food and a nice duo providing live music. A perfect evening.
Of course we had many congratulations on the achievement of 32 years of marriage on Facebook and in person. I had a few people - whether seriously or joking - ask me something along the lines of, "So how did you manage to stay married to the same person for that long?" I think what they actually meant was - how did my wife manage to put up with me for that long?! So I started thinking about it...
MARRIAGE IS NOT THE POINT
At first I kind of felt like, "Well, it's not really that big of a deal. Lots of people stay married that long and longer." A lot of them are pretty miserable though. That's the first thing I believe is significant about our marriage - we're not just married, but we still enjoy being together. It doesn't matter if we're going out on the town, plopped in front of the TV, or simply shopping for groceries... there is still no one else I would rather do it with than my bride of 32 years. We are not just married, we are a "couple." Somehow she has put up with me, and I have put up with her, and we haven't grown tired of one another. Somehow.
So, the first real piece of advice I could think of was: Marry "up." Find someone better than yourself; someone with the capacity to love you in spite of yourself; someone who is kind and gentle and who likes to laugh. It seems every couple has one partner that others like to be around, and the other one is tolerated. I knew a long time ago that I was the one people tolerated, and I lucked out in finding someone that others respect and want to be around.
However, all that said, there are some dangers in marrying "up." The "better" person could realize just how much of an idiot you are, and decide THEY want to marry up. More than that, though, is the fact that... no matter how special your significant other is... they are still human. Everyone has their faults. So this piece of advice isn't always valid. In fact, I've known some couples whom I thought were both "uppers" and things didn't work out. So... who knows.
Eventually I determined that the real reason we've been able to stay happily married for this long is because we both committed our lives to following Jesus as best as we could. It's not just about the two of us, but the Three of us (or 5, if you count the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit separately). When we got married there were not just a few people who said it wouldn't last. In many respects, it probably shouldn't have. There have been a number of justifiable reasons for us to go our separate ways. Yet, for some strange reason, here we are. And I really do believe it is nothing short of a miracle of God that we have survived, let alone thrived.
Again, though, I can think of numerous other couples who were probably more godly than we are... and things didn't work out for them. I'm not sure how to reconcile that in my mind. I don't know why God has chosen to bless us with a long marriage and not do so for others.
Ultimately, I guess I really don't know how to stay married for 32 years. I don't know how we have done it. But I know I feel blessed that God has chosen to intervene for us on occasion and somehow keep us together. I also know that love is a precious and precarious thing, and it can vanish as quickly as it comes - sometimes with no warning or reason. A good long marriage takes a lot of work and an even greater amount of humility, but more than that it takes something else... And I don't really know what that is. So I just thank God and thank my lovely wife. That's about all I can do.