Wedded bliss and other myths

One of the funniest quotes I’ve ever heard regarding marriage is attributed to Ruth Graham, wife of well-known evangelist Billy Graham. During an interview years ago, she was asked if she ever considered divorcing Rev. Graham. She replied that she’d never thought of divorce in all their many years of marriage, but she did think about murder a few times.

Before anyone reading this says ‘oh, how shocking’ (though how anyone could be shocked by anything these days is beyond me), be honest. If you’ve been married awhile, you’ve had the same thoughts yourself.

This week my husband and I observed 46 years of marriage. So am I about to share the secrets or the key to a long marriage? Goodness, no, I’ll leave that to the so-called experts. But I will tell you some things I’ve learned along the way.

First of all, we married very young. I was 17 years old, with still a year of high school before me, and my husband barely 18. I’ve joked many times that between the two of us, we had about enough sense to fill a teaspoon.

So what have I learned over 46 years of married life? I know that marriage is hard work, that worry never helps any situation, and how to compromise on a daily basis.

I realized over time that limited income is the least of problems one could have. I came to fully understand that marriage is about two people pulling together to build the life that works for them and, in our case, the good fortune to raise a family of our own.

I found that married life meant having someone’s compassionate care when you have the flu. I discovered that outer beauty goes out the window if it is not overshadowed by inner beauty. I learned to deeply appreciate qualities my husband had that I did not, such as bravely driving me to work on icy days. I found that patience, kindness and a soft answer truly does turn away wrath, just as the Good Book says.

One of the main things I came to appreciate about marriage is that it provides a help-mate. I’m reminded of a laugh-out-loud line from an old TV show that had the male character admiring the attributes of a lovely, petite neighbor. His wife, a larger-figured woman, pointed out the neighbor might be pretty but could she help him push a car out of a snowbank?

I discovered that it was not the romance of a young girl’s dreams, not about candlelight dinners and stars in our eyes. And definitely not “never having to say you’re sorry”—remember that sappy movie line? I thought it was pretty ridiculous then; I really think so now.

I learned that there will be outside forces that can crush you, things over which a couple has no control but without question affects the marriage. Illnesses. Job situations. The passing of parents, of siblings, best friends, close cousins. The death of a child.

Yet, I’ve often found that having that other person to lean on is what gets us through it all.

So here’s to marriage and 46 more years. Well, that might be stretching it a little.

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