My grandparents were married forty-six years before my grandpa passed away. I remember breathing a sigh of relief when my parents made it past that point. They celebrated their fifty-third anniversary before my dad went home to be with the Lord. I don’t know how many more years God will give Bob and me together, but I praise Him for the lifetime we have already shared. As Bob likes to say, “It’s been a lo-o-o-o-ng thirty-nine years!”
I was being facetious, of course, when I called this “Wedded Bliss.” It hasn’t all been bliss along the way. We’ve had our share of struggles. I was about to say, “more than our share of struggles” but, no—they were exactly the obstacles, hardships, trials and sorrows the Lord knew we needed to mold us into the people He wanted us to be. Many of these problems were totally out of our control; some of them were brought about by others; many of them we brought upon ourselves. There have been physical challenges, financial hardships, spiritual slumps, relationship struggles, worries about our kids, job upheaval, people problems, emotional distress, and uncertainty as to the direction we should go at times. Each of these can bring stress into a marriage, and being human beings, there have been times when we have fallen, but somehow, with God’s help, we have survived and faced these things together.
We go through seasons in our lives. That newlywed, young-married, starting-a-family period is our springtime. Love is in the air! New life is beginning. We are young and energetic, eager to embark on life and this new adventure called marriage, and looking forward to our happily-ever-after. Then comes the summertime. Raising our children; establishing our homes and careers and place in the community; having our day in the sun, so to speak. Along comes autumn, and we walk hand-in-hand, a couple once more as our children have moved on to start their own lives, as comfortable together as a cozy pair of old slippers. And then there is the winter of our lives, when the winds begin to blow and the ground beneath our feet is slippery, but we hold one another up and, warm and secure in a lifetime of togetherness, we face the cold realities of life.
Quite the rosy picture, isn’t it? Ahh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if life and marriage were really as simple as that! We all know the truth, though – each of these seasons has its own share of struggles and problems. Marriage is not a walk in the park. It takes total commitment, unselfishness, love, faith, trust, respect, an ability to forgive, a sense of humor, and plain old hard work all the way through to make it from “I do” until “death do us part.” Most of all, for the Christian, it means depending on God for the strength and grace to have all these characteristics because, in all honesty, it isn’t always easy.
There are times when my husband drives me a little crazy. There are many times when I fail him. We’ve had rocky times in our marriage two or three times in the last thirty-nine years. It is difficult for me to admit that, but praise the Lord, He helped us through them, and we have emerged stronger and more in love because of the storms we have walked through together. I know I can depend on Bob. He is always behind me, supporting and encouraging and doing his best for us. Bob knows when he comes home he has a soft place to land, someone who understands and loves him and listens. There is a constancy and trust between us that has grown stronger through the years as we have worked together and weathered whatever life has thrown at us. The card he gave me yesterday probably says it best: “Love is the reassurance that someone who understands you will be there at the end of the day. Love is the security of knowing your good qualities are appreciated and your faults forgiven. Love is the joy of giving your best to another person and receiving much more in return.”
We are in the autumn of our lives now. I’m not the pretty, young “chick” with the long blonde hair he remembers from that first blind date anymore. What I lack in youth and looks and energy, though, I hope I make up for with a little more wisdom and patience. Bob has not changed much over the years, but perhaps my perception of him has. As I have witnessed his faithfulness to the Lord, me and our family; his strength and determination; and his genuine goodness and generosity, it has made me love him more and more.
I was teasing him yesterday and happily sharing some of the verses I found in the Bible about wives – and what a treasure a good wife is! Proverbs, especially has a lot to say about wives – and why not? After all, King Solomon, who wrote most of the Proverbs, had 700 wives, so he should know!
Proverbs 5:18 “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Bob always calls me “the wife of his youth.” I don’t know if that’s a reminder to himself that he has to love me because God said so, or if it’s to differentiate me from the other wife he has hidden away somewhere! (Just kidding, of course!)
Proverbs 12:4 “A worthy wife is a crown for her husband.” (Big smile!)
Proverbs 18:22 “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.”
Proverbs 19:14 “Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the Lord can give an understanding wife.” (Bob, you are so blessed!)
Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-29 “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!’” (Really, really blessed!)
And for good measure, a verse from Ecclesiastes, also written by Solomon: “Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.” Ecclesiastes 9:9 (So there, Bob – you have your reward!)
Boy, I love reading those verses! Of course, he could have come back with several more selections from Proverbs – although he graciously refrained.
Proverbs 21:9 “It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.”
Proverbs 21:19 “It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. [!]
Proverbs 27:15 “A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.”
We sure haven’t “arrived” at that place where we can say we have the perfect marriage. We still have our spats from time to time. We still act immaturely and selfishly and let our mouths and pride get the best of us. Until the day God takes one of us home, we will have to work at this thing called marriage. It is worth it, though. Marriage is the very first institution God ordained on this earth, and the picture of Christ and His Bride, the church. It is a gift from God to help us through this life. Let us treasure it while we have it. It is not all bliss, to be sure, but it is one of God’s best blessings!