From Roxann: My friend Gayle and I have walked together for over 22 years. We’ve knocked off the same few pounds—several times—and solved many of the world’s problems. She is a cherished friend. Today, she is The Marriage Dance’s guest blogger and is sharing about long-term marriage. Gayle Cloud’s blog can be found here.
This, it seems, is Happily Married Husband and Wife Week. What an appropriate time to pen (figuratively) some thoughts on long-term marriage.
God, Himself, ordained marriage as a covenant between man and woman, intending to bring two separate beings companionship and wholeness. And when the relationship works, there is no better reflection of His love for us. The complexities of will, gender, personality, background, desire, etc., are not easy to bring together. It certainly hasn’t been easy for us. And surely not for several marriages in our circle of friends and relatives which have ended in divorce, including my own husband’s teenage marriage. These thoughts are not intended to bring judgment to any of those who have divorced. It happens in this fallen world. But I can vouch for the fact that despite the obstacles life has brought and that we have caused, we have persevered to this most precious time of retirement and grandkids. Our quiver is most certainly full and bursting with life.
Hindsight is quite a useful gauge in evaluating life. I certainly didn’t know in 1973 what I know now, and that’s probably a very good thing. The experiences the mate and I have shared have carved us out and, fortunately for us, the Holy Spirit has filled us up. I really don’t know how a marriage survives without a focus on the God who created us. He certainly adds a dimension to life we otherwise wouldn’t have and a hope for a new tomorrow. That verse in Lamentations—His mercies are new every morning (3:23)—were a daily balm to my heart when I knew I had made a mess of things. Psalm 103:14 reminded me that He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust, which might not seem very uplifting until I remembered He created us and loves us in spite of ourselves.
We eloped to Las Vegas in the 1970s—the start doesn’t sound promising, does it?! I had just graduated from college, with long straight hair and John Denver glasses. He was just back from Vietnam, sported an Afro, and had big dreams. Both of us were on hiatus from our relationship with Jesus (so to speak!). His parents were happy he settled down and my parents were not thrilled about many things, including my backsliding ways. And yet God kept us in His hands, not that I’d suggest that model.
The things we’ve learned from long-term marriage:
Overcoming trials can bring us together when we’d rather pull apart. I clearly remember times I would have liked to run away—but was hampered by opportunity and money! God has His ways—and we’re happier if we see them.
Men are different than women—all men. And they will remain men. Yes, I thought that he would eventually see things my way. He didn’t.
God works in our differences—if we let Him. The husband is big picture. I am detailed. He is generally not complicated. I am. His faith is simple. Mine was always doubting (was!). He is more the feeler. I am more abrupt. I am more controlling. He lets go—of everything! We’ve certainly used our differences against each other. But God, the One who never gives up on us, is continuously conforming us into His image.
Our kids are the blessing of His faithfulness. As my mate said when I would doubt our parenting, God allowed them to be born in the USA and we taught them about Jesus, imperfectly to be sure. The rest is up to them. And they have done well, by His grace. We don’t have to share them with step-parents at the holidays and we can talk about them and their offspring endlessly to each other without boring our friends!
We know each other better than anyone else, albeit imperfectly still. In this world, we are imperfectly known and that yearning to be known will only be fulfilled when we see Him face-to-face. Until then, our spouse is our intimate.
We can depend on each other. It was the spouse who took me to the ER when I had kidney stones. He traps the skunks and rats and sends them to their reward. I cook his dinners (well, I did while the kids were here!). I pay the bills and keep him on schedule. We appreciate each other, especially our shared history. And we can laugh, now, over some of our biggest misunderstandings and arguments.
A good laugh clears the air if we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
We have a companion at night when our heads hit the pillow. We kiss each other goodnight and appreciate all the days He has given us.
A satisfying marriage is a gift from the Giver of life. A complex gift. But a gift.
This article was originally posted on Gayle’s blog on April 9, 2017.