THE BEAUTY OF A MARRIAGE THAT ENDURES
“…rejoice in the wife of your youth…” Proverbs 5:18
I can hardly believe that forty years ago today I was preparing for one of the most exciting and life changing days of my life. Forty years! That’s a really long time! Is there any way I could convince you that we were only twelve and sixteen? In all seriousness, I remember our wedding rehearsal the night before I became Mrs. Don Currin. I was a naïve nineteen year old girl (now you can do the math and figure out my real age). I was also a fairly new Christian. When you put those two truths together maybe you can understand why I had such lofty aspirations. I thought because Don and I were both serious about walking with and serving the Lord we were going to have the best marriage ever. I’m serious; I really believed that! I had read a number of Christian books on marriage, particularly on the wife’s role in marriage. I had memorized Proverbs 31, and I thought I was all set to begin my wonderful new life as this man’s wife. I thought we were never going to argue. We were going to serve God together in perfect harmony, and have the most exemplary marriage. But, then we actually took our vows and became man and wife, and as Paul David Tripp says, “the war began”! Why, we didn’t even make it off our honeymoon before we had a major argument, and it wasn’t pretty. I quickly discovered that he was not another Apostle Paul. And I had no idea what a needy sinner I was until I said, “I do”. I found that I was much more selfish, self-centered, and self-willed than I had ever imagined. I discovered that it’s a lot easier to be spiritual when you live alone, or at least to convince yourself that you are. That sweet honeymoon (over all it really was) back in May, 1977, was just the beginning of a new chapter of sanctification, not only in my life, but also in that of my dear husband. That argument was just the first of many, but, those precious memories were also just the beginning of a lifetime of unforgettable memories we would create together.
I had no idea what a needy sinner I was until I said, “I do”. I found that I was much more selfish, self-centered, and self-willed than I had ever imagined.
As I ponder our life together, and particularly our marriage, I can only marvel at the grace of God and thank Him for sustaining us. With treasured memories filling the recesses of my heart and mind, I also find my love and gratitude for my man growing. The Lord has been incredibly kind to us. But it hasn’t always been easy. I think sometimes when young people see “older” couples who are still happily married to the same person after many years they think that couple must have had an easy marriage. They must have truly been “soul mates”. Well, I trust you hopeless romantics will forgive me, but I don’t actually believe there is any such thing. That notion was created by Plato, the Greek philosopher who surmised that a perfect human being was split in two. The sad result of this calamity was a race of people who would spend their lives looking for that one person who would complete them. Although that thinking sounds ridiculous to most of us, the concept of a soul mate has permeated our culture. In fact, one study conducted on the campus of a well-known university showed that 94% of people in their twenties consider the most important requirement of a potential spouse is that of being a soul mate. That may be one reason young people are marrying later and later in life, and of those who do marry so many end up in divorce court. The truth is every marriage is made of up of two hopelessly flawed sinners.
But thankfully there’s hope for hopelessly flawed sinners, and that hope is found in God’s word. The Bible teaches us that when two sinners marry they enter a covenant relationship that is not based on feelings or performance. And when a flawed man and a flawed woman truly commit to love, cherish, and serve one another the way the Bible instructs us to, it is a beautiful thing. When they actually carry that out, however feebly and imperfectly, year after year and decade after decade, it is even lovelier. And that’s what I really want to highlight in this blog post; the splendor of an enduring marriage.
While the majority of us like new things…new clothes, new cars, new homes; there are some things that become better with age. Things like cheese, cast iron skillets, art, antiques, wisdom, and friends actually improve as the pages of the calendar are turned. As we approached this milestone in our marriage, I’ve been thinking about how a good, Christ-centered marriage becomes so much better as the years pass. Persevering in marriage creates something that you can’t find anywhere else. There really is something wonderfully unexplainable about growing old with the person you’ve been united with for decades. A good long lasting marriage takes a lot of time, effort, forgiveness, and plain hard work. But there is something about a love that has endured many tests and trials that far surpasses the thrill and delight of young love. There is great comfort and reassurance in facing the constant changes this life throws at you with someone who has cheered you on in your pursuits, encouraged you in times of uncertainty, comforted you in seasons of grief, loved you in spite of yourself, and been there for you in “sickness and in health”, in the good times, as well as, the bad. Hollywood loves to exalt young love, but show me a man like Robertson McQuilken. This shining example of marital devotion gave up a successful career as a college president in order to spend many years lovingly caring for his beloved wife after she was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s celebrate loving commitment to a husband of more than thirty years like I see in one of my friends as her world has been turned upside down since her husband has suffered a series of debilitating strokes. Let’s commemorate the love I saw in a little old man who consistently came to see the love of his life in the assisted living facility where my mother-in-law once resided. I would observe him as he would tenderly hold her hand and talk to her. He would bring her something to drink or a snack to enjoy while they visited, even though dementia had stolen her mind and she could offer him nothing in return. These are examples of true love that should be celebrated and esteemed. Just as a tree grows stronger and more unmovable as the roots grow down deeper and deeper year after year, so does an enduring marriage. Romance in the early years of marriage is sweet, but even more precious is the love between a couple who have been married forty, fifty or sixty years. They have become one in almost every sense of the word. They can read each other’s thoughts. They can anticipate the reaction of the other. Gary Thomas writes, “They have perfected the dance routine…”, and there is something very enchanting in that.
I’m so grateful that God, in His kindness, brought a tall, lanky good-looking young man into my life almost forty-one years ago. I’m thankful that young man chose me to be his wife. And I’m even more grateful that the Lord has given us so many years together. I’m thankful that I have someone who knows me and loves me like no one else does to enjoy a good book with, to share my ice cream with, to laugh with me at a silly movie, and just to be there beside me in the evenings as we relax in our recliners. I know I would not be the person I am today if it were not for him. It amazes me to look back at that young nineteen year old girl standing at the altar in Lynchburg, Virginia, and realize how much being married to Don has changed me over the last four decades. I can’t even imagine where I would be if he had not asked me to marry him. I have benefited in innumerable ways from his wisdom, his ambition, his tenacity, his creativity, his strength of character, and his unwavering love for God and for Scripture. We have spent two thirds of our lives together, and most of what we have accomplished we’ve done so together. We are total opposites in many ways, but God has mysteriously used our different personalities, backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses to help both of us become who we are today.
And so, I want to encourage you young wives who may be struggling in your relationships with your husband to hang in there. There will be disagreements, disappointments, and seasons where it seems that romance is a distant memory. You will be sinned against, and you will sin against your man because that’s what sinners do. But choose to forgive. Choose to give him your undivided attention and to really listen to him. Choose to overlook the small irritations. Choose to make time to be alone with him and show him you really love him. Choose to fight for your marriage! Because some things are worth fighting for and some things really do get better with age!
Soli Deo Gloria