Yesterday Helen and I celebrated 40 years of marriage. Forty is a biblical number, you may know. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. It took 40 years to travel through the wilderness to get to the Promised Land. Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days of fasting and temptation. All those experiences sound pretty dreary, but being married to Helen has been anything but!
In a culture like ours where we get to choose for ourselves whom to marry, it is no wonder there is so much divorce. Falling in love is hardly a rational process. It’s our hearts and our hormones, not our heads that are in control. So I consider myself very fortunate indeed that I stumbled into such a great choice so many years ago!
I don’t think any two people could be more different. A matchmaker never would have introduced us. And I doubt if the computer algorithms on all those dating websites would have either. But from the moment we met, I just knew. She says she did, too.
Different as we are, we are a team. One of our first adventures was a canoe race sponsored by our church. Neither of us knew anything about canoes. Yet somehow we figured out the rhythm of paddling, stayed in the canoe, stayed out of the water, and managed to cross the finish line first. We saw that as a good omen. (And yes, we are both competitive!)
What a wonderful teammate Helen has been in all our churches! It is not easy being married to a pastor, especially this one ☺. Another thing we share is a tendency to put down deep roots, and of course those roots get pulled up too often when you are an itinerant United Methodist. The scripture at our wedding was from Ruth: “Where you go, I will go.” She has. I never could have done this ministry thing without her.
We had three children over a span of 12 years. It took us a long time to get to the empty nest phase of marriage (technically, we still have one at home, but he’s usually pretty good at leaving us alone). I hear of couples who start having problems when it’s just the two of them. Just the opposite for us. I’ll let Helen speak for herself, but I am more in love now than I was 40 years ago, and I was head over heels in love then!
It hasn’t always been easy. I don’t want anyone to read this and wonder what’s wrong with you. We are all fallible and flawed. Just ask Helen. (Whether Helen has faults I cannot say, but if she does, that may be what kept her from getting a better husband.) Marriage is where we get to actually practice all those good things we read about in the Bible: kindness, patience, repentance, forgiveness, grace, self-denying love, etc, etc.
We are out of town celebrating right now. And no, I’m not working on this there. This is one Monday Musing I did in advance, with instructions to Margie Frasier to hit the send button some time Monday morning. After 40 years of marriage, I have learned at least that!