Sweeter as the Years Go By

Someone once quipped, "I didn't know what happiness was until I got married...and then it was too late!" Well, we hear a lot in the news today about "significant others," gay marriages and civil unions. But there are still a lot of old-fashioned marriages based on the biblical principles established by Christ.

Successful marriages still take a huge amount of commitment, determination and prayer. If that were ever true, it certainly is now. As Adventists we hold dear two institutions—marriage and the Sabbath—that originated in the Garden of Eden. The devil hates the Sabbath, and he hates happy marriages. I am convinced he will do all in his power to destroy the blessings of them.

Yet, in spite of his efforts, there are many of our experienced friends who are well able to share the reasons they lived happily ever after. They've enjoyed good times and weathered the inevitable storms. So I made a few phone calls and this is what I learned.

Cliff and Betty Sorensen, 50 Years: "We had our challenges but we had a commitment to the principles as laid out in scripture and endorsed by the church. And, self has to be put aside—not just looking at ‘what's in it for me.'"

Max and Ardis Torkelsen, 60 Years: "Right off the top I would say that we always made the decisions together. When we faced major issues we worked it out together...We have been so blessed."

Bruce and Marionette Johnston, 57 Years: "We were totally committed to Jesus, to His church, to its message and proclamation, and to each other."

Alf and Estelle Birch, 50 Years: "We were both so committed to our calling that we would not allow differences to jeopardize our marriage and in turn our ministry. At times one or the other of us had to eat ‘humble pie.'"

When I heard the next comments I couldn't help but recall the story of the old couple who had been married many years. One day the wife said to her husband, "How come you don't tell me you love me anymore like they do on the TV?" He replied, "I told ya once and if it ever changes I'll let ya know!" The marriages cited in this GLEANER would suggest that isn't good enough.

Lenard and Lois Jaecks, 53 Years: "Never lose the excitement of each other. Do the little things. Exchange kind words, give cards to each other. We have saved these over the years and have a scrapbook of them."

Jack and Edna Harris, 62 Years: "Our marriage is successful because my wife gets an 'A plus' in forgiving. Love does not consist in gazing into each other's eyes, but in looking forward together in the same direction."

As I thought about my own marriage in the context of my health crises last year I realized how thankful I am that Sue and I have stuck together for 37 years. I praise God for a loving, caring wife, and for a marriage that adversity has strengthened even beyond what it was.

Just listen to these words of experience from Bob and Carolyn Rawson, 48 years: "Tragedies sometimes drive you apart, sometimes together. We lost two children. Struggling through that together was a bonding experience. To get through those experiences you both count on God and the support of your friends."

So whether you are just now contemplating marriage, or have lived and loved together for 60 or more years, there is some wisdom from these "experts." They all agree that while there are indeed difficulties in every marriage, the challenges are worth working through, if done with God's help. Not one of these successfully married couples would say it wasn't worth the effort.

In fact, as Alf Birch says, "It gets sweeter as the years go by."

May 01, 2007 / Editorial