On a hot August Sunday afternoon almost five decades ago I walked to the altar to say, “I do” to a lovely young blond. I was a skinny nineteen-year-old kid and my bride, a cute little Colorado girl, named Amy Kay, was eighteen.
Now, I know that most of you hot dogs out there think it was a shotgun wedding; it was not. We didn’t do things
that way back then. We didn’t have a few kids first, then if we liked them, get married. It might appear a little old-fashioned and seem a novel idea for many of you, but back then we got married first and had babies later.
Of course, our parents worried about us, be we didn’t lose any sleep because we thought love conquered all problems. It wasn’t until we were in our forties when we heard that the divorce rate for those who marry before the ages of twenty-one or twenty-two is exactly double the divorce rate for those who marry at twenty-four or twenty-five. Good grief, we were teenagers, and we still made it!
Lots of folks asked us “How were you able to stay together for so long?” I always wanted to answer, “Because I was the most charming, generous and romantic man God ever created, and my wife was the luckiest woman on earth.”
The real answer is, we decided to keep the promises we made on our wedding day. You know the ones: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, sickness and health, etc. A young lady cutting my hair once asked me how we could be married for over fifty years. When I told her, “we just kept our promises!” She said, “cool,” as if she heard the idea for the very first time.
It’s not cool to stay married for over five decades; it’s work. It isn’t easy to keep promises while you live in a world that begs you to break them. Oh, a couple of times I suppose I’ve been made to feel cheated because I had only one wife. No adventure, no daring, no variety; just the same woman year after year after year.
But wait a minute, no adventure? No daring? No variety? Staying married to the same woman when you both have an intense desire to make life lovely creates its own forms of adventure, daring, and variety.
It’s an adventure to raise kids together: we wept together through their difficulties and rejoiced in their victories. It takes great daring to find ways to stay in love while your body changes, your desires evolve, and your mind matures. Do you want variety? You’ll find a tremendous amount of variety in one person if you take the time to discover the wonder, the miracle, and the matchlessness of that individual.
The experts tell you that if you want to avoid becoming a divorce statistic or live for years in an unhappy marriage, take seriously the need to wait until you have personally developed your identity and life goals. If you do, your selection of a mate will be based on the “totally grown up you” and prove to be as good twenty or thirty years from now as it is today.
They may be right, and I don’t recommend getting married in your teens. However, I was blessed to enjoy the excitement and weariness, prosperity and poverty, sickness and health, laughter and tears for over five decades with my cute little Colorado Girl named Amy Kay. We aged gracefully together and shared everything in life until she drew her last breath. And just like on our wedding day, there I was by her side, I held her hand, and looked into her eyes. This time I wept with sadness that she was gone, but also experienced a deep sense of joy because I kept my promise to be with her until we were parted by death.
If all this sounds a little sticky and gooey, it is. But, consider the advantages of doing this marriage thing the old-fashioned way:
- When you get married before you have babies, it means none of your children will ever ask, “Who’s my daddy.”
- If you and you’re beloved are married and faithful, you will never have to take a test for a sexually transmitted disease.
- When you stay married, you never have to hire an expensive divorce attorney.
- And the best reason to stay married is that when things on your body sag and wilt and bulge and emit foul odors, there is someone by your side who loves you anyway and any way.
Those are just a few practical reasons why I promote marriage.
See more at www.HeartfeltMarriage.com
1 thought on “Why I Promote Marriage”
Dear Dr. Ross,
I am sorry for your loss. I saw it coming as I read, but it still hit me like a ton of bricks … and completely felt your joy. Thank you.