Happily Ever After

hippies

this card is framed and on display in my front room. My mom made it and it’s Perfection.

My parents recently observed their 45th wedding anniversary. We marked the occasion with a nice family gathering that involved dinner and celebratory toasts with some of their eight children and eighteen grandchildren (the most recent grandchild was born two days later, on their actual anniversary!).

Forty-five years. It’s really something. I’m inclined to use the word “impressive” but I’m sure most married people would agree, a better word would probably be “grace-filled” or “miraculous.”

I’m not saying it’s a miracle that my parents have stayed married this long, but even in the happiest of marriages, miraculous is not too strong a word. In life, in marriage, there are so many hurdles and challenges and when you look back at where God has brought you, well, it takes small daily miracles to get the job done.

Grace and miracles. Over the course of a married lifetime, that’s the trick. Putting one foot in front of the other and accepting the grace and tiny miracles. The miracle of another day. The miracle of a forgiving heart. The miracle of an act of love or self-denial. Small moments that build up, one kindness after another, to bring you to a 45th anniversary celebration.

The thing about my parents is that they seem to genuinely like each other. That always helps in marriage. My memories of my mom and dad as I was growing up is of them really having fun. These days, as I watch who they are as a couple now back to being “just the two of us” I can see so clearly that my memories are true. They are best friends. They have a good time together.

What a gift they gave us, their children, with that witness of love. My view of marriage has always been that it was such a good thing, and a really fun thing at that. As I got older, as I’ve been married now long enough to know, I realize that a good marriage also takes a lot of effort — but my parents always managed to showcase the positive for us.

I asked my mom and dad to tell me the secret to a happy marriage, and what has worked best for them.

“Having a strong faith base that you share,” said my mom. “Choosing to forgive, and laughing together as much as possible. And make the marriage relationship the most important, even over that of the relationship with the children because someday the kids grow up and leave and what you have again is each other.”

My dad added that it’s important to understand marriage is a sacramental gift from God, “for two people to serve each other so each may grow in love for God, as well as in love for one’s spouse and oneself.”

Like all couples, the day my parents said “I do,” they had no idea what they were getting into. They promised to love each other “in sickness and in health.” And that is exactly what they’ve done.

My mom is coming out of a season of battling breast cancer for a second time. And through it all, through chemo and radiation and hair loss and major surgery, my dad has been there for her. Driving her to appointments, making her meals, encouraging her to put one foot in front of the other; that and countless acts of love witnessed only by those two.

That’s just one example of the selfless love I’ve seen in their marriage, and I’m so happy and hopeful for them to enter a new season of health and joy. That was a hard time, but through it all, they kept their love for each other and their eyes on Jesus.

And that, they acknowledge, is what it’s all about. Jesus is the glue that holds their marriage together and my mom and dad are quick to point that out. Love him. Put your trust in Him. Do that and all these other things will fall into place, because you will have grace you need and the wisdom to see you through.

This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.

Comments

  1. Wonderful article, Rachel. You mentioned once that your father was in a rock band a long time ago. What was the name of his band?

  2. So good! I’m so grateful that I am IN a happy marriage and tomorrow it will be eight years. (We’re babies I know.) That said, we had three boys in two-ish years (twins, sigh) so does that add on a few “dog years?” It certainly multiplied the tiny miracles/miracle of a new day 🙂

    Also, that picture is a riot. Happy Anniversary to your folks! (Mine celebrate 45 this August.)

  3. What a beautiful testimony! My husband and I are inching up on 20 years this fall, and I totally agree with all of this – it takes God being in the center of your marriage to truly make it a sacrament, and treat it as such. I always say that marriage vows are almost wasted on the bride and groom, because you can’t truly appreciate the “better or worse, sickness and health” aspect until you’ve lived it together, and lived THROUGH it together.