“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Just a few months ago Doris and I celebrated our 62nd. wedding anniversary. If you and I ever sit down to have a coffee together I’ll explain why people look at us and say, “Not possible—unless it was a child marriage.” I assure everyone we tied the knot when we were 23 and 22. Now my lovely wife Doris lets it be known that her energy harks back to the fact she is younger than I—by six months. But in this note, I want to sow some lessons that have sprouted and grown in those 62 years.
During the time we’ve navigated along the river of life we hung on to our marriage vows. And those vows forged bonds to hold us together. During all our ups and downs we found security in the pledges we had made to each other. When the going was tough we didn’t give up. We found the reward at the end of this obstacle race was the prize of a mature happiness and contentment. We assumed it was true that it is not love that sustains the promise; it is the promise that sustains the love. We built our togetherness on promises made.
It is with all sincerity that I declare: I value, appreciate and love my wife more now during our mature years than ever before. Ever since I have known her, she had her own place and ministry. She developed her wonderful music and teaching talents so they contributed to whatever success I ever had. How terrible it would have been if when facing the rapids in the river to quit paddling and give up on our marriage. We would have lost all the sense of accomplishment in all that we have done together. If you wish to read something more of her life with me in Brazil, look up some past postings on my blog: rkennysite.wordpress.com.
There were no exceptions to our sticking together but you may have your own compelling list for tearing apart your marriage. Mental illness, physical abuse of any kind or verbal abuse for it can be just as damaging, some kinds of criminal activity, infidelity—and the list goes on. As for us, we never let statements such as these escape our lips: “We don’t love each other anymore” or “We see so many things differently now” or “I’ve found another love.” Don’t give up on that marriage or whatever relationship in which you find yourself. Hang in there. Someone has said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Tough it out. The sun will shine and the world you see will be more spectacular than during any previous day.
Books by the experts state that opposites marry and I think that may be true. But we never allowed our differences to dominate our lives. For example it is true I used to like to fish and I’ll share this little secret. Doris doesn’t like the water, the boats or fishing. Perhaps the reason is that I almost scared her to death on a lake one day shortly after we were married. You see, the outboard motor began to miss and we were a long way from our cottage–I wasn’t too happy about our predicament either. Anyway, just this evening I cooked up salmon for dinner and we had a wonderful meal. Doris also had some fish—but I needed to promise her she’d find no bones. Her piece was clear and we both smiled.
As I was writing this, Doris shared her insight that our common interest in mission work in Brazil united us even during difficult times. More—our common allegiance to Jesus was a powerful adhesive to help in those tough times. I agree with her about our uphill battle to learn Portuguese and endure the near poverty conditions in which we lived while in the interior of the State of São Paulo. But in some ways we did not recognize then, those struggles were a common battle; we persevered and the challenges bound us together.
Perhaps one truism applied to our marriage is more important than others and it can be a wonderful glue to bind any couple together, “Fall in love over and over again, always with the same person.” Barbara de Angelos said this about marriage, “Marriage is not a noun, it is a verb. It isn’t something you get, it is something you do. It is the way you love your partner every day.” Sixty-two years together have been great but now with those quotes on paper, I’ve stirred up enough challenges in my own heart to keep me busy the rest of my days.