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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,044
October 12, 2020
55 Years of Marriage
By Mike McManus

This week, my wife, Harriet, and I celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary! We have been blessed with three wonderful sons and nine delightful grandchildren.

As a product of our marriage, we created Marriage Savers, an organization which worked with 10,000 churches in 230 cities to prepare couples for a healthy marriage, to enrich existing ones and save those in crisis. An independent study estimated that divorce rates in our cities fell 17.5% on average, with nine cities slashing divorce by 50% or more. Result: about 200,000 marriages were saved from divorce.

What wisdom can be passed on to the next generation? Much comes from others:

Claire Booth Luce commented: "To a daughter contemplating the flaws in her marriage, a mother observes, `Remember, dear, it's being together at the end that really matters.'"

Benjamin Franklin wrote: "Work as if you were to live 100 years; pray as if you were to die tomorrow."

Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet, is eloquent: "For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning."

Robert Lewis Stevenson observed, "Marriage is one long conversation with disputes." However, he adds, "Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up."

William Shakespeare put it succinctly: "My heart is ever at your service."

Gloria Steinem, who did not marry until she was 66, comments, "Being married is like having somebody permanently in your corner. It feels limitless, not limited."

Joyce Brothers is more practical: "Marriage is not just spiritual commitment. It is also remembering to take out the trash."

Luciano DeCrescenzo is inspirational: "We are, each of us, angels with only one wing, and we can only fly embracing each other."

Early on, Harriet and I made two promises to each other: First, to listen. As a writer, my first instinct is to speak. But I learned good communication requires careful listening. We also pledged not to let the sun set on our anger.

Diane Sollee of Smart Marriages stated delightfully: "To get divorced because your love has died is like selling your car because it is out of gas."

Tony Heath advises succinctly: "Be presidents of each other's fan clubs."

I Corinthians 13: 4-7 offers 14 definitions of love: "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 wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. II always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." Harriet and I have tried to live those virtues.

An anonymous person observed: "Love is a four letter word spelled T-I-M-E."

George Eliot asked a powerful question: "What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories of the moment of the last parting."

Ogden Nash quipped, "To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you're wrong, admit it; whenever you're right, shut up."

Martin Luther wrote, "There is no more love, friendly and charming relationship, commitment or company than a good marriage."

Elaine, aged 5, wisely observed, "Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken."

Former First Lady Barbara Bush observed, "I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell that to my children they just about throw up."

I close with an anonymous observation: "The question is asked, "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?"

"And the answer is given, `Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed, but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.'"

That's how we have been blessed. With times in the depth of the valley we can appreciate our mountaintop experiences and treasure the peaceful plateau times.

Love is more than a feeling. It is a decision.

"Together wing to wing and oar to oar." (Robert Frost)
_________________________

Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.commm. Hit Search for any topic.

 

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