By the time you read this, my wife and I will celebrate our forty-second anniversary.
When we meet someone we have never met before and the fact that we have been married over forty years comes up, the usual response is amazement. “Wow!” is normally the first word we hear.
It is incredible to me that it is amazing to them.
By today’s standards, we did everything wrong before marriage. We were young. I was eighteen, Julie was nineteen. We did not live together first. We were both virgins until our wedding night. Our engagement was short, very short – 18 days. Many will read this paragraph and wonder how we made it. I will address these issues and more.
Being young – I was fresh out of high school; Julie, a year removed from high school. However, we were both mature. One of the significant differences between my generation and young people today is that the younger generations grow up quicker, but we matured faster. By growing up quicker, I mean that kids today are exposed to and involved with adult things such as sex, drugs, alcohol, and more as early as elementary school. Much earlier than my generation was. However, many of the younger generations still throw temper tantrums at age 35, do not understand the meaning of love, base decisions on their emotions instead of the facts laid before them, lack a general work ethic, and act like children in many ways. Even with the multitude of adult experiences, their minds and emotions have not matured. If you want a forty-plus year marriage – grow up.
Not living together first; being virgins – God has physical examples of spiritual truth all over the place. One of these is sex. God intended the bedroom to be the most enjoyable physical experience a person can have. God uses the example of how marriage should be as a picture of the perfect spiritual relationship with Him.
I mentioned earlier that there is a misunderstanding of the meaning of love. The world’s most famous Bible verse, John 3:16, contains the definition of love, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” When a couple loves one another, they give themselves to each other. Her joy, her needs, her wants are my top priority in the relationship. My happiness, my needs, my wishes are her top priority in the relationship. With the elimination of selfishness, both are happy. That is what true love accomplishes. When one or both parties of a relationship act selfishly, it drains the union of any happiness. The end is misery for both.
My love for my wife will not allow me to cheat on her because that does not fulfill her happiness.
Love branches out into all areas of life. The bedroom, the kitchen, the workplace, our finances, our decision-making process, everything: love or the lack thereof is the guide.
By holding the physical act of love back until marriage, we show that our commitment is to each other. This action, along with daily exhibitions of love, nearly eliminates all fear and jealousy from the relationship.
On to the short engagement.
The shortness of our engagement had nothing to do with the length of our marriage. Still, our preparation for a life together before our engagement did.
How we did what we did may not be right for every couple, but what we did is essential.
What we did – We decided how to handle money, discipline the children, our process for settling arguments, and more, all before Julie ever said “yes” to my proposal.
How we did it – we wrote to each other every day. It is not that we lived across the continent to each other; we saw each other at least twice a week (we went to different high schools). Both of us would sit down with our Bibles and write what amounted to our diary combined with a Bible commentary. The Bible is the book of life. Every life scenario is in there. As the Bible talked about the different life topics, we would write down our comments and thoughts. We reached down into our souls and wrote down our innermost feelings and opinions. When we were together, we would talk about the letters. Sometimes we disagreed. At that point, with everything laid on the table, and we came to a consensus.
Once married, there were a few occasions when one of us did not act as we decided before marriage. Instead of arguments, all the other had to do was bring up the letters. The guilty party would admit guilt, then both of us together would work to correct the wrong. After all, the vows do say, “for better or for worse.”
Of course, over the years, opinions of things change. When that happened, we already had a process laid out to amend our decisions from before. But it is always in love – acting in the best interest of each other, not ourselves.
Trust is essential to a happy and long marriage, but the foundation of trust is true love. We should always think of how we can give ourselves to the other. When both in the relationship have that, there is nothing that can sever the bond.
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Website: www.preachers-point.com; Email: email@example.com; Mail: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Timothy-Preacher-Johnson-101171088326638.