Lessons on marriage from a successful couple
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a dinner in honour of a couple celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. They were both in their late sixties and did not have much wealth or were not in high positions but were extremely happy spending their time visiting their grown up children and grandchildren locally and overseas. I am sure they had their problems and challenges in their lives which they had managed to overcome and keeping their marriage intact for such a long time. I was impressed with what the wife said about the success of their married life.
She gave wonderful account of their secret of success being together despite the ups and downs in their life. It was nothing but love which we often take for granted. To her, love for her husband consisted of 2 things. Firstly it was forgiving him for whatever he said or did that hurt her as she believed that “he does not know what he was doing” and secondly she was always quick to say “I’m sorry” whenever she feels she had said or done something wrong. It was that simple which many couples find it so difficult to do thereby resulting in breakdown of their marriage.
Marriage is not about finding the right partner but being the right partner ourselves as there will be never a perfect person custom made for anyone. It is we who make the marriage not others as they will never be able to that. We often belief that marriages are made in heaven and pass the responsibility to God to keep us together in thick and thin, not realising that marriages, may be made in the presence of God, but is made right here on earth, in our homes and families. Others can only break not make a marriage.
Almost every marriage starts out as a huge and at times a grand celebration. Together with their family and friends, each couple is full of hopes and dreams for their future life together. But the road to a happy marriage is far from easy. As today’s divorce statistics demonstrate all too well, many couples opt not to complete the journey. Very often they drop off their journey for very trivial reasons.
Most problems that lead to the breakdown in marriage can be traced back to the most important factor - love, which we all think we have in abundance for each other. True, we may have abundance of love for each other when we started the journey years back but during the course of the arduous journey through rough terrain, we find the love that we thought was deep enough was just not strong enough to keep us bound together. It was just the physical beauty that kept us together not true love that could stand the test of time.
The type of love that is needed in marriage is well described in 1Corinthians 13, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrong doing. It does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.".Do we have such a love for our spouse?
The first 20 years of marriage is usually the happiest time when the children are small and we slog for their happiness and well being. Indeed their happiness brings great satisfaction to us. All that is needed is hard work for which we had energy in abundance at that stage in our lives. We have the strength, charm and beauty of youth which keeps us together as husband and wife.
The second 20 years is the most trying time as during that time we begin to lose our physical beauty and vitality. The children leave home and their peer influence becomes stronger that our own. They become independent making important decisions by themselves at times not even consulting us. We watch helplessly with dismay when our children make wrong decisions in major events in their lives.
It is the period of trials and tribulations when sickness and other tragedies may strike us and our families. It is a period of great difficulties, uncertainties and trials which can drive apart even the most loving couples.
It is the time when our trust in God is being put to the test. It is very easy to say “Lord I love you” when times are good but extremely difficult to say that in times of tragedy. If we can remain united, endure and overcome the pain together as husband and wife with unwavering trust in God during this period of great difficulties as we promised to God when we took our matrimonial vows, then He will bless us with success, peace and happiness in the final stage of our journey in life.
It is in difficulties that we become closer if only we keep our promise to God and to our spouse to be “true to each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love and honor each other all the days of our life till death do us apart.”