Reflections on Marriage After Fifty Years

 

H. Lynn Gardner

 

When we got married (February 24, 1961) I had no idea of the serious challenges we would face and the wonderful blessings we would receive in the next fifty years.

 

A good marriage is not easy and does not happen without a lot of work, mistakes, patience, forgiveness, prayer, and laughter. But it is worth it.

 

Raising children teaches lessons not learned any other way. The people who have all the answers for raising kids apparently never had any of their own.

 

Being helped by your spouse when you face serious difficulties is important training for being able to help your spouse when he or she faces a serious challenge.

 

Marriage brings a unity between a man and a woman each with different backgrounds and personalities. The most important aspect of this relationship is the spiritual dimension. The foundation of common conviction and commitment to God and the lordship of Christ is essential to true unity and the ability to solve the conflicts that will arise with two persons who are selfish at times. A spiritual common ground needs to be supplemented with a social compatibility. In the close union of marriage, not only must we love one another but we must also like each other, having a core of common interests, values, and priorities. The physical “one flesh” union comes only after spiritual and social unity has been established and the couple publicly commits to each other in marriage. Marriages based only on the physical do not last because they lack the commitment of “for better or worse.”

 

The unity in marriage is not homogenized sameness. Faithful commitment and service in marriage takes two individuals and deepens each spouse in ways they would not have developed otherwise. A loving marriage enhances rather than diminishes the uniqueness of each individual

 

When conflicts arise, try to understand the other person’s point of view and feelings before you defend yourself.

 

If you don’t overlook your spouse’s minor weaknesses you will not be able to enjoy their great strengths. Some people never achieve marital oneness and happiness because they let the minor things become major.

 

Genuine love communicates. Important communications—“I am sorry.” “I forgive you.”

 

In a sense love is more a product of marriage than a cause. The love that prompts a man and a woman to marry, while valid, does not have the depth of the love for each other that develops from years of seeking to serve the best interests of your spouse.

 

In my late teens I was skeptical about people who claimed to have a happy marriage. A year or two before our wedding my research for a term paper on marriage helped change my mind. I wrote in the paper that I was convinced that marriage as God designed it provided for greater maturity, greater purity, and greater happiness. My experience of fifty years of marriage has confirmed this for me.

 

After accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior, the best thing I have done in my life is my marriage to Barbara.