It was a hot August Sunday afternoon in 1963 when my teenage bride-to-be and her father walked down the aisle at First Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado. Before “God and these witnesses” we pledged to “love, honor and obey” until “death do us part.”
It seems to have stuck.
Against all odds, we have kept those vows for 50 years. According to ask.com, the 2010 Census reports only six-percent of first time marriages last 50 years. That puts my wife Amy and me in a very elite group we are proud to join.
After some discussion, Amy and I agreed on the following ten reasons our marriage has lasted 50 years:
Reason #1: We received the blessing of both God and our parents. We grew up in nearly identical homes, at least from the perspective of religion and world-view. Both of our families were in church whenever the doors were open. We attended and met at a Christian college, and before we were married, our parents gave their approval, albeit with some hesitation given the fact we were both teenagers.
We had the role model of parents who kept their vows “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” which helped us to live the same way.
Reason #2: We listen to each other. To be honest, I was a slow learner at this one. My brother and I had a riff we would often spout to our children, “If I don’t know it, Uncle Dick knows it. If Uncle Dick don’t know it, Dad knows it. If Dad don’t know it nobody knows it.” You can imagine, that kind of attitude inhibits listening.
A very special professor at Creighton University, Dr. Fr. Robert McInery, taught us to listen with more than our ears. He said that listening is more than hearing what someone says; it’s hearing what their heart says. Even I, the bloviater-in-chief, was able to become a good listener.
Reason #3: We speak love to each other. And we still hold hands too. We hug often, and snuggle in bed even after an argument.
Early in our marriage I read that a husband should tell his wife he loves her every single day. I started immediately to do so and have done a pretty good job. I don’t know why it’s so hard for most men to speak words of love; but let me tell you, it’s worth the effort. If you don’t know how, start learning today.
Reason #4: We spend moments together. I’ve used the word “moments” for a reason. Brief moments together can be wonderful – a cup of tea, a brief hug in the kitchen, even a short conversation on the phone to exchange loving words.
Longer moments come at lunch after church or a short drive in the country. We’ve also spent many much longer moments together on long journeys having visited all but three states and over 30 foreign countries. And there’s no one, NO ONE, we would rather spend our moments with than each other.
Reason #5: Our relationship is our top priority. We have three adult children we love dearly, but we do not love them as much as we love each other. We have great friends, but no friend greater than each other. We have a good business and great rapport with wonderful clients, but ten-times more important is the connection we have with each other.
People have tried to get between us. My wife has had more than one guy hit on her, and I know this may be hard to believe, but I too have had my opportunities. But no one has ever been allowed to get between us.
Some years ago I was in a bar with some male friends (I don’t go to bars very often, so I was uncomfortable). A good looking young single woman was chatting up the guys when suddenly she looked at me and declared, “You’re married aren’t you?” I said, “Yes I am. How did you know?” She responded, “I can tell – the good ones are always taken.”
Reason #6: We speak respectfully to each other. As a teenager I heard a preacher use his wife as the butt of his jokes, and it offended me. I promised myself then, I will always speak respectfully of my wife.
Everyone who knows me knows I love my wife because I always say nice things about her – which, of course, isn’t that hard to do.
Reason #7: We do little things that become big deals. I found out some years ago Amy really likes it when I wash her car. So, I wash her car, especially if I want something! Yet without ulterior motive, she irons my shirts. She cooks for me and sometimes I cook for her. I even open the car door for her from time-to-time.
Reason #8: We show appreciation for each other and for the blessings of God. I thank her after every meal whether it is a grilled cheese sandwich or a meal fit for a king. And she thanks me when I do things for her. Appreciation shines the light on what’s right about a relationship, and that fosters good feelings both ways.
However, the appreciation we give to Almighty God for His blessings may be more significant. It’s easy to forget we live in the most prosperous nation on earth and that we had no choice over where we were born. That is why we take time to thank God for good health, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to live.
Reason #9: We laugh and reminisce together. According to research, couples who laugh together and regularly reminisce about fun times tend to be much more satisfied with their relationships. We talk often, laugh easily and enjoy reminiscing about old times, especially the good old times.
Of course, we know how to yank each other’s chain. We know what words inflict the most pain, but seldom use harmful language. If we do, there is a quick and sincere apology. We would rather laugh and love than fuss and fight; it’s better for body, soul and spirit.
Reason #10: We believe the best is yet to come. What I’m talking about here is our attitude about our present situation and our future prospects. Both of us are in pretty good health: we are mentally alert and physically active. We love our children, grandchildren, and friends. We enjoy our business, are grateful for the state and town we live in, and are comfortable in our home.
We’ve noticed a level of contentment has come over us of late, yet we have no intention to sit out the final years. Our life and our relationship are NOT on the downhill side of life. No sir, we anticipate another twenty or thirty more years together filled with excitement and joy.
So keep your calendar open for our 60th Wedding Anniversary scheduled for August 4, 2023. We have not booked a venue for the occasion because no one will take our reservation, but you can be sure there will be such a celebration. See you there.
©2013 Ronald D. Ross
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