The story is told of a seminary student who preached his first sermon on the topic “The Ten Commandments of Marriage.” After he graduated, got married, and took his first pastorate, he changed the title to “The Ten Principles of Marriage.” Then he had his first child, and changed the title to “The Ten Suggestions For Marriage.” Finally, when his children grew into teenagers, he changed the title once again to “The Ten Questions About Marriage.”
I was 21, and Cheryl was a month shy of 19 when we got married on October 13, 1973. As we said our vows, “I take you for what you are now, what you will become, and what we will become together”, neither of us knew where we would be 45 years later. Fortunately we’re, still together, still in love, still committed to our relationship, and still growing in our understanding of what marriage is all about.
Science tells us that the human body completely rejuvenates its cells about every seven years. This would mean that Cheryl and I are different people physically than we were in 1973 six times over!
We have changed inwardly too. We survived the challenge of raising two teenagers and seeing them transition into adults and then dealing with subsequent life challenges. We survived moments of doubt about our relationship, Cheryl in her 20’s, and me in my 40’s. Fortunately, these seasons did not occur at the same time, and neither of us crossed the line of trust during those times of testing.
Cheryl and I are very different. I am tall, and she is short; I am Jewish, and she is gentile, I am from New York, she is from Minnesota; I am an introvert, and she is an extrovert; I am neat and orderly, and well, she is an artist. I love to work out, she loves to garden. I eat only healthy food, and she eats the other stuff. The key to our marriage has been giving each other a lot of individual space. We do a lot together, but we have our own interests, and we support each other in those interests.
Some of the things we share in common are our spiritual, political and financial perspectives, our friends, our interest in movies and watching Survivor together every week since it came on the air, and of course our involvement with our daughters and granddaughter. She is also a great complement to me. Where I often miss social cues, she is very in tune to people’s feelings and gives me helpful input. She also edits my posts and has prevented some of my mistakes from going to press. And best of all, she gets me – which is not an easy task. She has been my chief supporter and best friend for 45 years.
So not knowing as much as I should know about marriage after 45 years, let me give you a movie, TV, and two book recommendations, plus a concluding song.
My favorite marriage related movie is “The Four Seasons” starring Carol Burnett and Alan Alda. It tracks three middle-aged couples who take vacations together in spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Along the way, we are treated to mid-life, marital, parental and other crises.
One of my favorite TV shows is Madam Secretary because it exemplifies a healthy marriage between Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) and Dr. Henry McCord (Tim Daly).
The book “His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage” by Willard Harley identifies the ten most vital needs of men and women and shows husbands and wives how to satisfy those needs in their spouses.
The book “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” by Gary Chapman identifies five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
I am very thankful for my wife, so here’s a song for us now and for the next 45 years because you’re still the one!