Thirty five years ago today, my husband and I took that step of love and faith, and committed to love each other “until death do us part.” Entering marriage in our “older” years (he was 39 and I was 31) and each of us for the fist time, we began our marriage marathon.
As part of our vows, we committed to be “forever by your side”, running this marathon, not sprint.
In spite of the reported increase in domestic violence, Covid stressed lockdowns, finanical strains, political discord and declining marriage and divorce rates we are still running our love race.
We have survived the bruises of that brutal first year together, when two lives are thrown together in marital bliss only to discover that two being made one is a painful and pertetual process. During those days I remember looking at Den and thinking, “Oh my goodness, how are we ever gonna make it a lifetime?” We were (are) both so strongwilled. We had lived on our own, doing thigs our own way for a long time. We were both “successful” in our careers and involved in leadership away from our careers.
The following years continued to rub off edges, smooth our dings, and sharpen us up, as “iron sharpens iron, and so a man his friend.”
At year five, we had our son, after some pregnancy challenges, and prenatal medical forcasts. He was perfect! Now our family was complete. We were elated and still running our marathon.
Somewhere around year 8, 9 or 10, (I can’t remember exactly) suffice it to say, we were dangerously close to dropping out of this marathon. I told a friend I was ready to, and without her love and commitment to pray us through, we may have become a statistic. Perhaps we were mistaken and this race was really a sprint!?! Den and I went to counseling, (after much opposition) and found our way back to each other and continued the marathon.
The next 10 years we lived life as a happy family, with focus on our son’s activities, and managing our own differences and issues as best we could.
As our son grew into manhood, becoming his own person, the focus in our marriage shifted now. Our careers became the focus and lots of time was spent in logging hours on work projects. Lots of introspection too, on who we were, who we wanted to become and where we wanted to go together. What was important to us had to be shifted through and priorities set or renewed.
As eventual empty nesters, there was nowhere else to focus the spotlight now. We had each other. Is that what we wanted, is that who we desired? Were we still committed to running this marathon together?
YES! A resounding, yes, pierced our hearts.
When Den retired, again things changed. He was now “on the sidelines” from what he had known and done for over 50 years. Who was he, what was he, where was he going? So many questions swirling for him. The best I could do for him was be there and support him, encourage him. Ya know, “Forever by your side.”
Years later, I retired and now we were full time together, with no other focuses. Would we kill each other? How would we manage those two strongwills in the same house all the time?
It has been an amazing welding together these past 3 years. We are closer than we have ever been, on every level. We share deeper, talk more, laugh more, cry more, and pray more – together. I can proudly say we are running together, in stride toward the same goal, supporting each other along the way.
Marriage will be like a freeway. There should be a destination in mind for your marriage and you both should travel towards it together. But, along the way there are off ramps. Some are rest stops and vital for completion of the journey or relieving of wasteful buildups. Others are off ramps that will change your direction and still others are off ramps that will take you out of the race altogether. Your marathon will come to an end if you take that off ramp.
The traditional 35th Anniversary is said to be coral.
Let me close with making a comparison.
Coral takes a long time to form with a lot of dying polyps along the way, just like a 35 year, bond of love has alot of dying to self. Both take a long time to form. But, healthy coral are able to withstand 97% of a waves energy as it buffets the shoreline, taking the rough current, waves and storms. Additionally, when corals are stressed by changes in conditions like temperatures, light, or nutrients, they expel an algae that lives in their tissues, thus causing them to turn completely white. This is called bleaching. The coral is not dead, when it is bleached, it can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and subject to mortality.
Whether it be through the pounding waves of life, the death of ideas, or the stress of conditions and bleaching out, Den and I have survived and are growing stronger. We’ve taken off ramps but always choose to re-enter the marathon.
We continue to be “forever by your side” through this marathon called marriage.