It is a question worth asking


I know that anyone who looks at my bride would find this hard to believe, but this week we will celebrate 50 years of marriage together. Yes, that is the big 5-0!

When we met way back in 1972 at a camp facility in northeastern Ohio, we were both counselors on a church youth retreat. I was a relative newcomer to the church, and my new friend Bob and his wife Linda made sure that Susie and I had been properly introduced to each other. It seemed that every time I turned around Bob introduced me to her. Here in Florida, Bob is now one of my best friends, and we often reminisce about those days. Thos memories are refreshed, along with the fondness, joy and laughter they bring.

For those of you who are married, how did you meet your mate? After a night out with friends, David Brown, an Englishman, woke up with a series of random numbers rambling through his head. After much internal debate as to why they were there, he concluded they must be a telephone number, and he sent a text message to the listing, asking, “Did I meet you last night?” The recipient was a confused Michelle Kitson, who lived just 60 miles from Brown. They had not met the night before, but over time, they would meet. In fact, five years after the first text message was sent the two married. A new way of dating! You would think this would be somewhat of a haphazard way to find even a prospective mate, but “She really is the girl of my dreams,” Brown says.

It is a question worth asking. How do you know if she really is the girl of [your] dreams? In this day and age, when marriage commitments (that’s the “C” word) are taken so very lightly, and where the grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the fence, the issue of what it takes to have a long and lasting marriage is something that you always are asking, either on the tip of your tongue or in the back of your mind. How do you know?

I have come to one basic conclusion about communication and relationships: If two people absolutely agree on absolutely everything, then one of them is absolutely unnecessary. In talking with countless couples who are and have been going through marital difficulties, it is amazing how often they agree on everything before marriage and almost nothing after the “I do’s” have been said. So how do you know?

In his book “Sacred Marriage”, Gary Thomas writes: “If we are serious about pursuing spiritual growth through marriage, we must convince ourselves to refrain from asking the spiritually dangerous question: ‘Did I marry the right person?’

“A far better alternative to questioning one’s choice is to learn how to live with one’s choice. A character in the Anne Tyler novel “A Patchwork Planet” comes to realize this too late. The book’s 32-year-old narrator has gone through a divorce and now works at an occupation that has him relating almost exclusively with elderly people. As he observes their long-standing marriages, he comes to a profound understanding: ‘I was beginning to suspect that it made no difference whether they’d married the right person. Finally, you’re just with who you’re with. You’ve signed on with her, put in half a century with her, grown to know her as well as you know yourself or even better, and she’s become the right person. Or the only person, might be more to the point.

‘I wish someone had told me that earlier. I’d have hung on then; I swear I would. I never would have driven Natalie to leave me.’ “

I know this may be a hasty generalization but professional athletes these days – it really does not matter what sport – are great examples of people who do not care about commitment. They care about one thing – who will pay the most for the longest. The vocabulary term is called “free agency”, and it has made that previously only-dreamed-about thought a reality. Players, especially the good ones, can almost name their price and get it. And their athletic talents go to the highest bidder.

Commitment in marriage is not free agency. It is a trite statement, but love is more than an emotion. It is an emotion, of course. There is still no one on the face of the earth that gives me goose bumps the way my 50-year partner does. But love is more than emotion. It is, in a word, commitment. It says, I will stick with you through thick and thin. There should be no such thing as hiring yourself out to the highest bidder in this thing called marriage.

The beauty of marriage is that after a long time of commitment, you find that you enjoy being with someone who accepts you just the way you are, someone who will be there for you no matter what happens, someone who will chide you when you are wrong, who will encourage you when you are down, and someone who becomes the right person for you. I thank God every day for that someone!

What’s more is that God honors that kind of commitment as well. In fact, for husbands and wives who honor each other the way they should, through commitment to love, to accept and to forgive each other no matter what, He tells us that “your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7).

I don’t want my prayers to be hindered. Do you?

God bless…

Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor who now resides in Florida. He may be reached at [email protected].

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